Friday, September 5, 2014

Odd Duck in Austin

I recently celebrated a birthday, and on a wild hare decided to spend an extended weekend in Austin to celebrate it. So the Lovely Spouse and I made the trip.  So where in Austin will a foodie such as myself decide to celebrate?  At the much lauded Odd Duck, of course.  I didn't make the choice on the accolades, although those don't hurt, but because I've been waiting for this restaurant to open ever since visiting their food truck a number of years ago.

Image source.  Where it all began.
Odd Duck started out as a farm to table concept food truck along Lamar.  The food was sourced from local farms and served up in such a way to highlight the ingredients. The dishes were what you would expect to find at a modern food truck, but with a noticeable improvement on technique.  How many food trucks do you suppose sous vide ingredients for a slider?  Maybe all of them do where you live, but this was novel for someone living in College Station. Therefore I was thrilled to find out they would move on up to a restaurant.

Where they are now. If you go, the valet parking is complementary, but tips are welcome.
A few days before we went I made reservations from their website. It's a good thing I did. Each night was fully booked, however I managed to find a 5 pm reservation.  When we got there the restaurant was already bustling.

Much of the seating at this time was at the bar, however there were tables in the dining room and on the outdoor terrace.

Bar seating looks right into the kitchen.  You can talk with the kitchen staff while deciding which delicious item to order. 
We started with pre-dinner cocktails while perusing the menu.  I got a very nice Moscow Mule made with in-house-made ginger beer, lime, and vodka.  The Lovely Spouse got a melon margarita. True to the name it had a distinct melon flavor.

The menu is designed around small dishes, therefore it is recommended that people order 3-4 dishes each. When making my reservation I mentioned a food intolerance and requested only to be informed of which dishes would be heavy on a certain ingredient.  The service and kitchen staff were absolutely amazing at assisting me. Truly above and beyond what I expect any time I eat out.

The Lovely Spouse started with onion bread served with house-made butter. I didn't eat the bread, but the butter was sweet, creamy and delicious. 
I started with pretzels filled with ham and cheese. Whipped mustard bechamel on the side. 
My next course was the heirloom tomato salad.  I love tomatoes. This salad was light and highlighted the great heirloom tomato flavor. 
The Lovely Spouse got the smoked boudin served with arugala on a saltine. Nice smoky flavor. It tasted like a very refined boudin. Good spice mixture and clean finish. Not at all like the greasy (albeit also tastey) boudin you find at the state fair. 

Next The Lovely Spouse got, would you believe it, tater tots.  These are the most refined and out-of-the-box tater tots ever. Served with smoked chicken, cheese, and green chile sauce.  He didn't share even a bite, so it must have been awesome. 
This looks like another salad but is actually a pasta course. This is house-made ricotta cavatelli served with chanterelles, apples, walnuts, and hot sauce (on the side).  Unexpectedly bright and fresh. I decided on the spot that I now want chanterelles in All The Things.  There was a nice blend of sweet, creamy, and fresh, although none was too much so. 
This was a special occasion so we had to get dessert.  If you visit you will absolutely want to do the same.
The Lovely Spouse opted for the seasonal sorbet.  Shown here are basil sorbet on the bottom and lemon sorbet on the top. Both were perfect in every way.
I opted for the most refined birthday cake ever: the Kouign-amann croissant.  Kouign amann are pastries made by much of the same technique as croissants but typically baked in ring molds or cupcake pans, giving them a different shape and texture. This one was topped with St. Maure goat cheese, apples, honey, and micro greens. I love the combination of soft cheese and fruit - the creaminess balances out the sharpness and sometimes overly sweetness of the fruit, and the fruit balances the fattiness and funkiness of the cheese. 

Prices?  They were reasonable for fine dining in a major metropolitan area. Each dish averaged $6-12 each, times 3-4 per person. Drinks ranged in price from $4 for a draft beer (great selection) to $18 for a barrel aged Manhattan.

We didn't make it to their brunch, but I heard wonderful things about it from a variety of people.

Will we be back?  I hope so.

If you go: make reservations. Get there early and enjoy a cocktail. If you drive valet is complementary but limited.  Save room for dessert.  The menu changes regularly.

1 comment: