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Help for business dinner in Austin

venkreddy Nov 12, 2013 12:22 PM

Hi all -

Need to pull together a small dinner (4 or 5 people) while in Austin for work. Staying on the south side of the river across from downtown, can take a taxi if it's not too far. Trying to avoid steakhouses in case there are non-steak lovers. Cost isn't a huge deal, but prefer no prix fixe or romantic atmosphere. I had originally planned on Barley Swine, but on further thought, small plates seem a bit awkward for this particular group. Any recommendations? Thanks in advance.

  1. v
    venkreddy Nov 22, 2013 09:50 PM

    Hi all. OP here. Closing the loop, thanks so much for the great recommendations. Almost ended up at Searsucker or Roaring Fork, but no fewer than 4 other dinners from our conference were going to those two (the others were all going to Zax since it was close to the Hyatt), so I called an audible and headed away from downtown.

    We ended up at Carillon. Perfect upscale business dinner atmosphere, great food, nice and varied wine list, reasonably priced. Good bar service also: I asked for a drink they hadn't heard of, and we made it on the spot and modified it a few ways to see if we could make it better. Re: food, the best part of the night was the British waiter with the Michael Caine accent and a very good sense of wine. He had opinions on the menu and didn't steer any of us wrong. A special call out for the hamachi, the pork belly and the short ribs!!

    Only weird think about Carillon is that it's *inside* the UT business school building (or something like that). I was trying to avoid hotel restaurants (though I know there are some that are just tops in Austin, I wasn't sure how my guests would react), and I ended up in a school building. Go figure.

    Anyway, fun night without being loud or crowded (until I found myself at the Continental Club watching Jimmie Vaughan - not really sure how that happened, but glad it did!).

    Thanks to everyone here for your suggestions. Sadly, I had just the one night there, so I will have to go back for longer to get through the list of places that I want to try!

    2 Replies
    1. re: venkreddy
      jwynne2000 Nov 23, 2013 04:33 AM

      Thanks for the report back. By the way, I love this:

      (until I found myself at the Continental Club watching Jimmie Vaughan - not really sure how that happened, but glad it did!)

      1. re: venkreddy
        Ashforth Nov 23, 2013 09:05 PM

        Thanks for filling us in on the outcome, I was hoping to hear from you. I'm glad your selection turned out so well!

        Plus, yeah, Jimmy Vaugn is a great old school Austin talent. You scored all the way around.

      2. girloftheworld Nov 16, 2013 09:37 PM

        You all know I am Uchiko baised ... but it is probally too intimate for what the OP is looking for with the plate sharing
        same with Qui

        What do all think about Searsucker? I like the food better than RF and the atmospher is good
        or Congress for a good solid meal and service.

        2 Replies
        1. re: girloftheworld
          Ashforth Nov 17, 2013 11:22 AM

          I haven't been to Searsucker but the menu looks interesting (a little precious but whatev), it's a celebrity chef joint, and it is much more likely to be a place that the people who live in town have not been to before.

          1. re: Ashforth
            girloftheworld Nov 17, 2013 01:07 PM

            Searsucker it is alot less"corprate" than you would think I was pleasntly surprised.
            as far as precious it isnt like they bring you your check in a pulpfiction novel or anything...
            I think when you dont "know" your guest it is a good safe place when not wanting to go the Sullivans route

            In my perfect world I take everyone to Uchiko and Qui :)

        2. j
          jwynne2000 Nov 14, 2013 04:07 PM

          For business meals in the downtown area that are not steakhouses:
          - Roaring Fork
          - Max's Wine Dive
          - Trio

          Just south of the river:
          - Zax Pints and Plates (my #1 go-to for business lunches/dinners... and your guests can actually park here without having to valet)

          1 Reply
          1. re: jwynne2000
            rudeboy Nov 15, 2013 11:21 AM

            I like Zax's, too.

          2. susancinsf Nov 13, 2013 12:06 PM

            I was very pleasantly surprised at how nice my group business dinner at Second Bar and Kitchen was...small plates, sort of, but for us it worked well with minimal sharing (the burger is most definitely NOT a small plate). some of the same group who went to Max's Wine Dive another night were not as happy with it...anyway, if you at or near the Hyatt, you can easily walk to Second Bar and Kitchen.

            Uchiko was lovely but (worth it) a very pricey cab ride to and a major hassle to get from and further from the area you are staying in that I would have thought based on descriptions and CH reports.

            We also had a successful business dinner at La Condesa, a longish but quite doable walk from your location, and the right atmosphere if the group would like upscale Mexican food.


            2 Replies
            1. re: susancinsf
              ampeg66 Nov 13, 2013 06:08 PM

              Note that La Condesa is temporarily closed due to a kitchen fire. Not sure about their timeline for reopening.

              1. re: ampeg66
                susancinsf Nov 13, 2013 07:12 PM

                sorry to hear that, and thanks for the update.

            2. v
              venkreddy Nov 13, 2013 09:42 AM

              OP here: Any thoughts on Carillon, Olive & June or Swift's Attic? Swift's Attic in particular looks like the kind of place that might not be on the radar screen of the locals I'm meeting. But it might be all small plates?

              1 Reply
              1. re: venkreddy
                amykragan Nov 13, 2013 11:02 AM

                Olive in June is pretty far from where you're staying.
                Swift's attic is small plates mainly
                Carillion would be a good choice. on/near the UT campus and there are lots of business meetings held there. I've enjoyed the food there.

              2. slowcoooked Nov 12, 2013 08:10 PM

                among the trendy places i prefer uchi or uchiko, the former closer to you than the latter up lamar. but at the risk of a hearty lambasting from my CH friends here, I often take my UTexas business VIP out of towners to Roaring Fork. The menu is nicely varied and overall they have a great grill and pump out a great steak or chilean sea bass with typically great service. It's not small plate service, for sure, and the lighting is dim and not country french marry your neighbor Lenoir either. Lamb, fish, steak, etc. We've not had a complaint over many meals. great happy hour deals too (e.g. the big ass very good burger). Edit - just saw Ashforth's comment - looks like a +2 on a couple counts.

                2 Replies
                1. re: slowcoooked
                  venkreddy Nov 13, 2013 09:31 AM

                  Roaring Fork is getting some good momentum here. At first glance, it felt potentially too casual, but your review for business dinners is spot on to what I'm looking for. Thanks for the second vote!

                  1. re: venkreddy
                    slowcoooked Nov 13, 2013 11:36 AM

                    Regarding the casual meter, RF is just as good in a suit as it is in a polo and jeans. But that's really Austin in general. I've worn many a jacket and tie to the fork and feel right at home in their dining room. The hotel too is on the swanky side so there's always a bunch of suits running around. Another poster mentioned Carillon, another good "business" call.

                2. a
                  Ashforth Nov 12, 2013 06:46 PM

                  Roaring Fork is a place I enjoy a lot and has sort of a Texas-y menu with fish, pork and chicken along with steaks and a well known burger.

                  Uchiko is excellent, a little further away from downtown than some of the other suggestions.

                  Where are y'all visiting from? Part of me wants to say you need some Tex Mex! But maybe you're from Houston or something.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Ashforth
                    venkreddy Nov 13, 2013 09:27 AM

                    In from SF, but everyone coming is local, so I was aiming for something they wouldn't normally do out to themselves (i.e. nice but not break-the-bank, with a good atmosphere to talk business, i.e. not romantic). It's a bit of a high maintenance request for sure. Roaring Fork is one that wasn't on my radar screen before. Thanks!

                  2. r
                    Rptrane Nov 12, 2013 05:13 PM

                    Max's Wine Dive, Trio or Trace would work too.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Rptrane
                      venkreddy Nov 13, 2013 09:30 AM

                      Thought about Trio and Trace - too hotel-y?

                    2. s
                      SlickTheCat Nov 12, 2013 01:49 PM

                      Uchi, Wine Belly, Parkside, Barlata, Qui

                      Barley Swine is now prix fixe - $50/head for full menu.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: SlickTheCat
                        venkreddy Nov 13, 2013 09:29 AM

                        Ah that knocks out Barley Swine. Sharing small plates may be too weird for this crew anyway. Parkside looks like a fit also, along with Roaring Fork mentioned below. I might go to Uchi on my own one night!

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