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Birthday coming up, Best French in town?

Arro? Chez Nous? Justine's? LaV?

I should add I don't mind dressing up but I don't want to wear a tie and I don't drink so I don't give a damn about the wine list. Please advise .

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    1. I like LaV and Justine's. I haven't been to Chez Nous in a while. Didn't like Arro the one time I went.

      1. Arro - overpriced and just doesn't feel French to me (their prix fixe is $25, but I don't think a croque is birthday-worthy)

        LaV - best atmosphere, so-so food, can't believe they have the gall to call themselves Provençal(-inspired)

        *Chez Nous - old-school bistro

        *Justine's - newer, hipper version of Chez Nous; con (or pro, depending) - loud; funny how it calls itself brasserie, though

        Péché - best for happy-hour/Warehouse-bouncing

        Annies - a cut below Chez Nous and Justine's

        *recommended

        ps You wouldn't feel out of place in shorts in any one of these places maybe except LaV.

        pps Post-Aquarelle, Austin's sorely missing un restaurant.

        8 Replies
        1. re: conquer

          Pleas say more about what you didn't like about Arro.

          1. re: Rptrane

            I just found Arro overpriced.

            For example, I don't mind paying for bread especially if its good bread. But listing it as charged per person ($2) and also charging separately for whipped butter ($3 per type) irked me.

            Conceivably if I wanted to try all 3 butters and breads for two people, I'm looking at $13. I don't understand why there isn't a breadbasket option at say $7 where you get a sampling of everything.

            The 3 course pre fixe seems like a good deal until I realize the entree section is dominated by sandwiches and salads and it seemed more lunch appropriate.

            I ended ordering the Grouper and the Duck. The duck was pretty good but the Grouper was an end tailpiece that did not justify its 27 dollar price. And while the top was nicely crisped, there were spots within that were underdone and chewy.

            I suppose I shouldn't judge a restaurant based on just one outing and usually I don't but with many other casual French options around, I haven't been back yet.

            With regards to LaV:

            I thought the service and atmosphere is great. Makes you feel like you are dining in a fine dining restaurant in Paris. The decor is almost reminicent of Robuchon in Vegas but much less decadent and quite a bit rowdier.

            The service was phenomenal as we felt we had 3 or 4 servers always at the ready and there was nary an empty glass or dirty unscraped table, yet there wasn't a constant asking of "how are we doing" thus service was invisible when we needed it to be.

            I thought the meat dishes were oversalted and a bit small for the price.

            I had a very enjoyable grilled octopus in tuna sauce though. A reference to likely the Italian dish Veal Tonnato, except more refined with a very smooth and rich tuna sauce. It really evoked the Mediterranean for me.

            I also had a very tasty skate wing dish off their bar menu that I remember was under $20. Its not a dish I see often and I always tend to order it if I see it as I love the taste of fish flesh near working muscles : collar meat, fin meat, etc..Unfortunately, I see that now its on the dinner menu for $30 so maybe they're charging more for it due to popularity.

            1. re: lixlix

              We had that grilled octopus on Thursday night, I could eat about 5 of those...

            2. re: Rptrane

              I've been to Arro twice. Once was fantastic. The other was terrible. Others I've talked to have had similar experiences. It just seems too inconsistent.

            3. re: conquer

              Didn't know that Justine's proclaims brasserie - does that not fit? I have never been to Justine's.

              1. re: rudeboy

                I've been bashing Justine's on another thread - too lazy to rephrase, so please forgive me for cutting and pasting here:

                I've been five times. Once was good, once was great. The other three were slow - two of these, the service was abominable and one was hands-down the worst service experience I've EVER had in a restaurant. And I eat out an average of probably 12 times a week. I'm pretty convinced our server was on drugs. In case you're bored and want to read my blow-by-blow (first time I've ever written a Yelp review that exceeded maximum length and had to be edited back!), here ya go. ;)

                http://www.yelp.com/biz/justines-bras...

                1. re: rudeboy

                  The founder of Justine's was once associated with Chez Nous. Sort of continuing the tradition, so to speak.

                2. re: conquer

                  Justine's has good food but in the restaurant itself, it is incredibly,unblievably, ear-damaging noisy. Better in the tent in front if it is there.

                3. I'd recommend Justine's, as long as you aren't bothered by a somewhat boozy scene.

                  1. If casual atmosphere isn't a problem, Hopfields puts out great food.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jwynne2000

                      A late dinner (10-11 pm) in the private backroom of Hopfields sounds charming.

                      1. re: jwynne2000

                        but it is kind of "pubby" for a birthday celebration for somebody who doesnt drink

                      2. I had a remarkably nice time with my two small kids at Chez Nous. The servers were very polite and (luckily) Amysuehere was not at the adjacent table ;-) As conquer stated, it is just an old school bistro with a decent prix fixe. Feels the most French to me, but it isn't upscale. Having said that, it is my favorite. You can take the train as well - just a block away about.

                        2 Replies
                          1. re: rudeboy

                            AWWWWWW Chez Nous was one the first daddy daughter outings I went on when I was little.... I thought I was oh sooooo fancy.

                          2. How is Artisan Bistro lately?

                            1. I still like Oliva--Non drinker-- and they dont act like it is a major dinning faux pas to not order wine( take note LaV )

                              Arro-- not so much I found it pretentious..( they charge for bread service??? who does that?)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: girloftheworld

                                Great suggestion, @girloftheworld. Olivia isn't overtly French, but they do a mean steak frites, the service is always great, and I love their space. Try to get one of the booths on the south end of the restaurant - they're much quieter.

                              2. Thanks for the feedback. I'm going to Chez Nous. Any recs for what to order?

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Rptrane

                                  I usually get the 3 course. the fish dishes have always been nicely prepared (especially the trout). crepes for desert, or the iles flottantes for something a bit lighter.

                                2. I'm a fan of Arro; I've only been there twice, but both times were great. I've always liked the cheese / charcuterie options, and though yes, the bread presentation is a little pretentious, it's still delicious.

                                  The steak frites were especially good – very impressive char/flavorful crust but perfectly cooked center. Excellent fries. Nicoise is great, also the mussels. I found their croque madame to the be the best in town, in my opinion (although it doesn't have much stiff competition, from what I remember elsewhere).

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: popvulture

                                    I should also add that I love love love Justine's. I think Arro wins in terms of food, but Justine's ambiance and general experience can't be beat. I love the fact that they're fine if you want to sit for hours, and for the most part, the food has usually been pretty damn tasty to me. I've been disappointed once or twice, but that's never clouded my perception of the place due to its always, ALWAYS excellent vibe.

                                  2. Went to Chez Nous. I did not enjoy charcuterie plate that much. The meats were good but I only liked half of the pates. At 16.50 I totally could have skipped it. I had the duck confit and my dining partner had the lamb chops. Once I mixed the duck with the fruit compote they served with it I really enjoyed it. We each got fried potato puff with our meals but two spheres of fried potato seemed needlessly skimpy. The highlight of the meal was the crepe, which we shared. It was light and appropriately spongey.
                                    All and all I'd go back but skip the app. I'm eager to give Justine's a try for comparison.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: Rptrane

                                      Haven't been on in a few days, so it was too late to tell you what we had. Since they were 3 and 6 at the time, I didn't want to order too much. We shared the wagyu flank prix fixe, the chocolate mouse, and added two soups and a salad. No wine since I was with them, so the total wasn't too much. Was trying to keep the price down and was partly successful.

                                      Sounds like your experience was just okay. Does one really get four lamb chops with the meal?

                                      1. re: rudeboy

                                        Yes she got four lamb chops. They weren't massive but it was a good portion. It was just okay. Service was excellent. Probably didn't feel special enough for a birthday dinner. Assuming I'm still living in Austin next year it's back to the Carillion to have my socks knocked off.

                                          1. re: girloftheworld

                                            Been there several times. I like trying new places. Plus service wasn't as good the last time we went.

                                              1. re: Rptrane

                                                Buuuuutttt we allllll know I am Uchiko biased ;)

                                            1. re: Rptrane

                                              I like Carillon but I would probably check some more recent reviews next year due to Josh Watkin's departure.