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Sichuan River

yeah, the cold bar is adjacent to the soup cart. sichuan house on burnet has something similar, though i think they only stock it on the weekend.

Aug 12, 2014
Steven Dilley in Austin

Sichuan River

had lunch here today as well. only dish we had in common was the dan dan. not my favorite style. chongqing chicken, otoh, was pretty good. could have used a bit of salt, but it's the dry-fried, no-batter approach that i prefer with this dish. spicy fish fillets were good as well. but the highlight was the cold bar in the back. spicy beef shank, a chilled chicken dish with a chile / sichuan peppercorn sauce, a refreshing cabbage dish, and another item or two. service was super friendly.

Aug 11, 2014
Steven Dilley in Austin

Szechuan House

I had an underwhelming meal here last week. A couple of ho-hum dishes--under-seasoned, very light on the sichuan peppercorn--pretty good red oil wontons, and a slightly above average cumin beef. So-so dan dan noodles. Despite that, had a return trip today as we were curious about the cold station, which is only available Fri, Sat, Sun. Much better meal. Sharper, cleaner, more pronounced flavors. Seasoning was better. And the cold bar was great. We had the cucumbers, soybeans & kale, spicy bamboo, smoked pig's face, pig's ear, and a spicy beef stomach. All good. In addition, the mapo was above average, red oil wontons had noticeably more Sichuan peppercorn this week, and chicken & jalapeno was tasty as well.

Sep 21, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Sad News - Blue collar Arkie's lost to yet another hipster joint

Las Manitas still burns me up.

Sep 21, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Migas

fwiw, migas taco on corn from veracruz all natural this morning was pretty good. thick, crunchy chips. and, as always with their tacos, served very hot.

Jul 24, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Migas

Unfortunately, Elsi's is closed. I believe they based that dish on the one from Las Manitas.

Jul 21, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Migas

Absent Las Manitas, Habanero is about as good as anyplace.

Jul 13, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Fredricksburg peach stands

That sucks. I've had great luck (15 or so baskets) with the vendor who sets up at 2222, just west of MoPac, and (same farm) at 2222, just west of 360.

Jul 07, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Pizza in Austin like "Dion's"

If it's pan, it could be Detroit-style, in which case you should check out Via 313.

Jun 24, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Is Lupe Tortilla Open?

I'm a fan of Habanero and eat there frequently--2 to 4 times a month--but it's a different type of fajita. I've been to El Tiempo and Little Pappasitos in Houston (and the original Ninfa's, which is perhaps overpriced, but which I like, at least for fajitas) and would welcome something similar in Austin. (Haven't been to Lupe's yet.) Habanero does a very thin cut of beef (not skirt, unless it's cut unlike any skirt I've seen) over mesquite. Not very toothsome or meaty but tasty--esp with their salsa, etc.--at least to my palate. Ninfa's and the others are meatier, a bit deeper in flavor. And, in my experience, El Tiempo and Ninfa's manage to add a lot of grill flavor to their meat... whether through the actual grill or not, who knows. (For those who have only experienced Ninfa's in Austin... it wasn't the same, for whatever reason. Maybe the prices were, but, in my limited experience, the food wasn't.)

Apr 30, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Searching for Kobe beef to cook

Cut Steakhouse in Beverly Hills offered real Wagyu from Japan, Saga Prefecture, a few years ago, though that may no longer be the case. Roughly $20/oz and maybe A3/A4. Pretty insane marbling. Like Sqwertz, I've seen some domestic stuff at The Meat House before, though it was fresh, not frozen. The counter guy mentioned they received it infrequently. Elpaninaro mentioned the stuff Central Market used to get... I'm guessing they still have access, but the meat guys I've talked to there claim there isn't much demand, considering the price. Snake River Farms does a pretty good job, as does Heart Brand, as CWG mentioned. A friend recently gave me a strip, ribeye, skirt, and a couple other items from HB, and the meat was impressive.

Apr 24, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Overall view of dining scene in Austin

Sorry, I've been traveling.

I was speaking to the quality of the list and location, meaning that the list would hold its own in some generic, comparably upscale restaurant in NY or SF or wherever. By that I'm not claiming the list is comparable to Daniel. I mean if there were a Congress restaurant in NY, its current list would hold up just fine.

Now that I think about it, though... Congress strikes me as a restaurant with one-Michelin-star aspirations, or whatever the equivalent is, and its wine list holds up in that category. (I'm not arguing it would be the best wine list in that category.)

It sounds like you might have an single objective standard when it comes to evaluating wine lists, and that's fine, but I can be quite happy if list is well-curated and interesting, like Ten Bells or Isa.

As for eating steaks out... maybe you're not eating them at the right place. ;)

Mar 20, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Overall view of dining scene in Austin

Obviously, I'm not suggesting its on par with RN74 or Veritas or the old Cru list or Daniel, all of which rank with the world's top lists. And it's pretty obvious that's not what I suggested.

Mar 15, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

The Taco Joint - San Jacinto / Campus

I think Scrumptious might have started a thread on this place, but I could be wrong. Anyway, I agree. Good stuff. Reminds me I'm due for a visit.

Mar 14, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Overall view of dining scene in Austin

"Not many of the great Burgundy producers make it into Texas"

I respectfully disagree. When I think of great producers, I think of: Domaine Leflaive, Roumier, Ramonet, Rousseau, DRC, Montille (at least old Montille), Dujac, Coche, Raveneau, Dauvissat, Mugnier, Fourrier, d'Angerville, Lafon, maybe Vogue, maybe Leroy, Meo Camuzet, certain Drouhin, certain Jadot, Ponsot, Bachelet, maybe Chevillon, a handful of others, maybe more. All of the above, with the possible exception of Ponsot, Dujac (past two vintages... previously available), Leroy, and Chevillon make it to Austin. The odds of walking into a store and buying Coche CC are pretty much the same as everywhere else on the planet. But you can usually walk into the Austin Wine Merchant and walk out with Montille or Ramonet or Roumier, Lafarge, Lafon, Martray, Jadot, Drouhin, Leflaive, Mugnier, etc. New releases, sure, but that's what they do. I can think of very few other shops in the States where that's reliably the case.

As for local lists, I haven't been in awhile, but I don't think Olivia's list has ever been as strong as when it first opened. Was special then. And Uchi/Uchiko's lists haven't been interesting since J. Rodil left. (I like those restaurants and frequent them but their doesn't seem to be a big focus on the wine program.) Congress' list is very strong and could hold its own in any market. Esp once you've taken a look at what's available via proper channels.

As for food, well, I can't think of a time when Austin's food scene was any better than it is now. More later.

Mar 14, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Overall view of dining scene in Austin

"There's little incentive to go bid at auction for bottles that won't move, however interesting they may be."

Not to mention, illegal in Texas. Places like Bar Henry can create interesting, mature, reasonably priced wine lists via auction. Not an option here.

Mar 13, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Austin restaurants that use natural ingredients

As long as you avoid fast-food chains and their sit-down equivalents, it seems like a pretty low barrier to entry, assuming you're able to speak to a well-informed member of the staff. And even with places like Kirby (which you should avoid for other reasons), it seems that it would be relatively easy to safely navigate the menu... eggs, salads, simple pastas, juices, etc. Within my regular small rotation of spots (including places like Ruby's, Franklin's, Lambert's, Counter Cafe, 24, La Canaria, Barley Swine, Takoba, Uchiko, etc.), it seems like it'd be pretty easy to order a safe meal. And in the case of Ruby's, Franklin, Lambert's, you could spare your son the bbq atrocity that is Stubbs. (BTW, I'm a pretty fanatical label reader and could swear that certain Stubbs products contained caramel coloring and various gums, at least as of a few yrs ago.)

I know that Ruby's and Franklin use steroid and hormone-free brisket as well. You might want to avoid the packaged white bread, though... who knows what's in that stuff. But if he can eat packaged white bread, that opens up more options... 5 Guys, etc.

Feb 25, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Best Croissants?

I missed this earlier. With respect to almond croissants, I disagree. A mediocre croissant is a mediocre croissant. A mediocre croissant loaded with Christine Ferber's finest or piled with Joselito Gran Reserva or turned into an almond croissant might be more palatable, but it's still a mediocre croissant. Much like a Katz's pastrami sandwich is awesome, despite being served on crappy bread (and would be even better served on something decent).

Feb 24, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Best Croissants?

FWIW, it looks like La Boite has switched to Elizabeth St Cafe for pastries, including croissants.

Feb 24, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

I know it's been discussed before, but... Ramen?

A few recent noodle-related meals. Lunch at Musashino was okay... I thought the ramen was a bit one-dimensional and the noodles overdone. Katsu curry was on the tough side. Tempura udon at Maru was a bit better. Well-flavored broth, though a bit on the sweet side. Noodles also a touch overdone for my taste. The coating on the tempura shrimp was a bit gummy. The shoyu ramen at Kome was much better and a dish I'd order again. Great texture to the noodles, a very good egg (well, half of an egg), flavorful broth. Very clean flavors, perhaps lacking the umami pop I've experienced in Japan and various EV spots in NY. Two very lean pieces of pork. Not tough but lean. Personally, I prefer a fattier meat component and a more umami-rich broth, but, like I said, I really liked it and will return soon. (The sashimi lunch dish looks esp good. FYI, a 40 minute wait for lunch on Sat.)

Feb 20, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Tex-Mex Catering: Matt's, Chuy's, Santa-Rita...Maudies?

I can't speak to the catering and logistical side, but with respect to food, Habanero is the best of the bunch. Fresher flavors, less of a reliance on melted, processed cheese, above average salsa, rice, and beans, and very good grilled items. The others are all pretty similar to one another.

Feb 17, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Best Croissants?

The croissants at La Boite are the same croissants popvulture mentions from Barrie Cullinan. I love them, esp the almond version.

Feb 17, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Where is the best Spicy Fried Chicken in Austin on par with Prince's in Nashville

Not only have I not seen that style of fried chicken in Austin, I haven't seen it outside of Nashville. (Certainly it exists outside of Nashville, I just haven't seen it.)

Feb 04, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Marrow bones...

That meat place on Bee Caves has 'em sometimes. (Meat House?) They're frozen, which is pretty standard when it comes to marrow bones, in my experience. And they're cross cut. Doubtful they'll be 6", but I've seen some in the 5" range there. I prefer bones cut lengthwise if I'm going to roast 'em, but they're tougher to find.

Feb 03, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Where to buy oak chunks?

I buy oak chunks from BBQ Outfitters on 620, just south of 2222. Might want to call first, as I haven't bought any in over a year (last batch was huge, plus I've been going through some pecan, plus a friend loaded me up with even more cured oak). I'd avoid the roadside dealers... in my experience, their stuff isn't always as cured as they claim.

Jan 18, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Hard Hat Report Vol 7

I grabbed some breakfast tacos at the one on S 1st a few weeks ago... agreed. Good stuff.

Jan 11, 2012
Steven Dilley in Austin

Looks like Elizabeth St. Cafe is open?

I'm not sure why people are skeptical considering the Lambert's folks have repeatedly shown they know how to _do things right_. (Not implying you're in this contigent, Popvulture.) Seems to me they've earned the benefit of the doubt, and that Eater piece only serves to underscore that belief.

Dec 23, 2011
Steven Dilley in Austin

Taquito Anaya truck FANTASTIC pastor and carnitas corner of airport and guadalupe

I'm not Slow, but Rosita's is likely your best bet. Close to Franklin, too.

Nov 22, 2011
Steven Dilley in Austin

Favorite Taqueria Or Taco Cart For Scratch Tortillas

I wish I could. The unfortunate evidence was sitting in the cooler across from the Coke fridge. Hopefully it was some sort of emergency substitute. Everything else was cooked to order, including a small batch of migas for a single taco.

But, yeah, I noticed the bag while sipping my coffee... was too late to back out.

Nov 17, 2011
Steven Dilley in Austin

Favorite Taqueria Or Taco Cart For Scratch Tortillas

Sadly, a recent trip to Cafe del Sol involved store-bought Mission tortillas. Guess the scratch ones were too much to sustain.

Nov 17, 2011
Steven Dilley in Austin