Thorkel's Profile

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Blue cheese vs. Feta cheese

Here in Austin there's a farmer's market every Saturday morning, and one of the vendors always has oak leaf. You may need to check out the smaller specialty places to find it.

Oct 26, 2011
Thorkel in Cheese

Decent quiche?

I don't get upset about such responses, but I know from too much experience that I am a lousy cook.

Thanks for all the pointers. I'll give those places a try.

Oct 26, 2011
Thorkel in Austin

POSOLE!!!!

The South Congress Cafe does a pretty good red pozole.

Sep 28, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

Looking for a restaurant near Fredrickburg

I found Hill Top Cafe and gave it a try last Saturday. I screwed up and tried the chicken fried sirloin. It was nothing special. The meat was OK but any flavor it had was overwhelmed by the gravy. The crust was so light and flaky it felt almost like it was made of phylo dough. Under the gravy it disintegrated so it was obviously too light for that application. After a minute instead of having cream gravy on top of a crust, I had cream-gravy based crust soup.

It was accompanied by okra, which I can't stand, in a tomato-based sauce, and potatoes that were cooked in some kind of herb mix. Judging from the color the potatoes were done with some kind of curry mix, but the taste was so mild I couldn't be sure. Overall, an entirely bland meal.

My girlfriend, on the other hand, loved what she got - oxtail soup. She said that it was some of the best she had ever had and that if it had been just a tiny bit less sweet, it would have been the best. She was also very favorably impressed with the cleanliness of the kitchen and the bathroom.

We're willing to give it at least one more try, to see how they hold up when things are busy. Since we were there on a Saturday afternoon the place was mostly empty. It may prove to be a viable choice on days when we're in F'burg for something else, but I certainly would never dream of driving 2 hours for it by itself.

Sep 27, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

Looking for a restaurant near Fredrickburg

Hill Top Cafe on 87 - that was it. Once you reminded me I was able to Google it.

I didn't remember a single thing about it or how I heard about it. It was derned annoying - there was something buzzing around in my head about it but I could not come up with even one bit of information. Must have had temporary brain damage.

Thanks.

Sep 22, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

Looking for a restaurant near Fredrickburg

I have to be in Fredricksburg this weekend, and want to try a place I've heard of. But now I can't remember the name. There's a place that is supposed to be pretty good on Hiway 87 west of town. Or is it Hiway 290? Anyway, if anyone can think of the name, I'd much appreciate hearing it.

Sep 22, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

Dining lineup

I've never eaten at La Condesa, but I know that brunch at Green Pastures can't be beaten in this hemisphere. Great food and LOTS of it, and a really wonderful setting in an old house that looks like something out of Gone With The Wind.

For a different take on brunch, try Vespaio Enoteca. They have fantastic food. And, for people who may have gluten-related allergies, they have lots of dishes that do not include wheat.

For great barbeque at lunch, you could stop in Lockhart and hit either Smitty's or Black's. The one time I ever ate in the Luling City Market, I was not impressed.

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Vespaio
1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

Enoteca
1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

Green Pastures Restaurant
901 W Live Oak St, Austin, TX 78704

City Market
633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648

La Condesa
400-A W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

Sep 22, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

Old Tom and Genever Gin Cocktails

Try a White Tulip. It's made exactly the same way as a classic martini, except that instead of dry gin and vermouth, you use Genever gin and Lillet. Same proportions.

Sep 09, 2010
Thorkel in Spirits

Alamo Drafthouse

Bummer. I've never had any problems with the food at any of them, but then again, I always just get a pizza or something like the basket of cheese strips.

Sep 09, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

Simplicity Wine/Tapas

I agree that Simplicity is a great place. I went there for the first time last evening. They have a very good list of wines by the glass, all from 5-7 dollars. No really big name vintages, but a nicely balanced selection and all very drinkable.

Only bad stuff I noticed was the light. If you go there before sundown, sit way back in the back or be prepared to sweat. The late evening sun comes *straight* in the glass front so the front half of the place becomes a serious greenhouse.

It was surprisingly quiet for a place with no carpet and not a speck of sound-deadening material. They must have a fantastic white noise system.

I tried the bacon-wrapped hearts of palm and the pork satay.

5 palm hearts each wrapped in a full piece of smoked bacon, and a little bowl of garlic aioli. They were fantastic. But they were so piping hot I almost blistered my mouth on the first. If you order these, force yourself to give them a few minutes to cool.

The satay was two skewers with half a dozen grilled pork chunks each. It was not quite as good as the palm but it was still good food. Not comparable to the pinchitos at Fino, but good quality meat, flavorful and cooked right, done all the way through with just a touch of grill char. The peanut sauce that came with them was a little milder than what I've had at other places, but not mild enough to be a problem. If they can do something to kick up this dish just a little, just adding a bit of salt or pepper or maybe some lime, it would be excellent.

Both the small dishes were $5 each. The total bill for two orders of tapas and two glasses of wine was $17 and change. I think that was a GREAT deal. It's probably the most bang for your buck in town, for food as good as what I had. I've been lots of places in Austin where the fare was not as good and the bill would have been twice that or more.

I am definitely going to start hanging out there more.

Aug 05, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

Surprised nobody has weighed in on the news about Katz's

Katz declared bankruptcy (chapter 11) and is talking about having to move because he can no longer afford the rent. Nobody has any thoughts on it?

Jul 28, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

Restaurant Jezebel fire

If they reopen, I will definitely go. The restaurant deserves the business and the "animal rights" nuts deserve bastinado.

Jul 27, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

The Dogwood Opens on West 6th

I will make it a point to check this place. Thaks for the word.

Jul 20, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

What can you tell me about Mullberry?

I finally got around to trying Mulberry yesterday, when I needed to hide out for a while until traffic got a bit saner.

It is tiny and there's not a speck of soft material other than the napkins, which means that when it starts to get full it will be as loud as 747 taking off. Be ready for that.

I was there during happy hour and I remember them as having only 8 wines by the glass - 3 red, 3 white, and 2 sparkling. Maybe you got a different menu?

I tried the meatballs on the happy hour menu, and frankly I'll take the suppli or the polpette at Vespaio Enoteca any day. The Mulberry meatballs were a bit undercooked - pink in the middle. Maybe that was why I had some seriously painful gut rumbles later that night. They were not toothy enough for my liking; they were so soft that if I were blind I might not have been sure they were meat. And as they soaked in the sauce they got softer, until the last one was more like eating boiled oatmeal than meat. In my opinion the combination of ground beef and white wine/lemon sauce did not really work. What should have tasted like beef came out tasting like chicken picata. The cheese grated onto the meatballs was so overwhelmed by the sauce that I literally couldn't taste it at all. The smell of the sauce was so strong I could not detect any smell of meat.

On the good side, the malbec and the bread with the meatballs were GREAT. I also tried the white Bordeaux and it was pretty good.

Final note: my bill for two glasses of wine and 4 meatballs came to $30 and change. And that was at happy hour prices.

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Vespaio
1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

Enoteca
1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

Jul 15, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

Some people really, really need to buy a sense of proportion

A couple of guys at a cooking contest actually got into a dustup over where a pig came from. Alcohol was involved.

http://blogs.wweek.com/news/2010/05/1...

Jul 14, 2010
Thorkel in Food Media & News

Anyone been to Malaga?

I haven't been there in over a year; every time I did go it was excellent. They have a huge wine list and some really great food. I highly recommend the lamb.

They're located at the far west end of 2nd street, a block west of City Hall.

Jul 13, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

visiting from michigan; recs for austin/hill country

PS: In Austin, try the tapas bar Malaga, and the French bistro Chez Nous. Both excellent.

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Chez Nous
510 Neches St, Austin, TX 78701

Jul 13, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

visiting from michigan; recs for austin/hill country

For the wineries, I'd recommend Becker (near the town of Stonewall), Sister Creek (near Sisterdale), and Spicewood Vineyards (Spicewood, naturally). I've had good luck with their products. Here's a link to a site where you can get more info: http://www.weekendwinery.com/Wineries...

You have GOT to go down to Lockhart, which is 38 miles south of Austin, and try the barbeque joints down there - Smitty's, Black's, Kreuz Market. Best in the state and maybe best in the country. In my opinion they blow the Salt Lick out of the water.

Go to Fredericksburg and spend the day hiking on Enchanted Rock to build up an appetite, then go into town and check out the Auslander restaurant - great German food.

Go down to Grey Forest, which is north of San Antonio, and go to the Grey Moss Inn. They have a wine list which is second to none. And pretty good food. http://www.grey-moss-inn.com/

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Kreuz Market
619 N Colorado St, Lockhart, TX 78644

Jul 13, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

What shouldn't we miss?

Why?

Jul 06, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

What shouldn't we miss?

I assume you're going to be here for ACL?

OK, you gotta do the Oasis, if only for a round of drinks; the food is not memorable. It's Austin's answer to Las Vegas. It's like somebody took a Spanish hacienda, a juke box, a tikki bar, and no sense of style or taste, and smashed them all together.

For my money, the absolute best restaurant in town in Jeffrey's. Very expensive, but also I think one of the best in the state.

If you're into small plates and wine, there's a Tapas bar on 2nd street called Malaga, run by a guy from Spain. I've been in several tapas places in Dallas and Houston and Malaga is far and away the best of the bunch.

Fun bars - Maggie Mae's is good. Nice and loud and you can go up on the roof and drink and sneer down at the peasants in the street. :-)

Jul 01, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

What shouldn't we miss?

Well, the hotel has a restaurant called "Trio" which is a contender for the title of best restaurant in town. Right next door is the Shoreline Grill, which is also very good and has the same beautiful view of the river bank out back.

"Best view" and "best food" are, other than those two, pretty much separate. Most other places you can have one or the other, not both. The Oasis and the Iguana Grill have great views of Lake Travis, but the food is average at best.

The best nachos in Austin are at the Hula Hut, which sticks out into the lake at Tom Miller Dam. It's a good place to get liquored up and watch the sunset.

Will you be here on the 4th? They put on a fireworks display over the lake by the Long Center, just a block upriver from your hotel.

My favorite bar in Austin is Peche, a place styled like a French bistro on 4th Street. They can mix any drink you've ever heard of and a LOT that you haven't. And they specialize in absinthe.

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Shoreline Grill
98 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701

Iguana Grill
2900 Ranch Road 620 N Ste A, Austin, TX 78734

Peche
208 W 4th Street, Austin, TX 07739

Jul 01, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

Liberty Bar San Antonio

They still have the same menu and bar stock. But the bar is on the second floor and the floors are higher than average. No serious drinker is going to want to stumble up and down 40 steps to drink.

Jun 30, 2010
Thorkel in Texas

Best Restaurant Not in a Major Texas City - Texas

I assume you're leaving out barbeque places?

Try the Wahlburg Restaurant, in the town of the same name. They do a damn good schnitzel plate. Or at least they used to. I haven't been there a couple of years.

There's also a really good place called Silver and Stone in Georgetown.

Jun 30, 2010
Thorkel in Texas

RIP part III: Austin Restaurant Closings

Sweet baby Jesus.

$4 for a handful of olives. Grilled peaches. Eel bacon. EEL BACON.

Apparently this place is determined to be unique at any cost. The menu makes it sound to me like a beautiful people place where people go so they can brag about how "special" the food is. I am already prepared to hate it. From the look of that menu I think I'd rather go to the Poodle Dog Lounge and order a pizza.

Jun 24, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

RIP part III: Austin Restaurant Closings

I just saw that the Saba Blue Water Cafe on 4th Street is closed. It's being made into a night club called M2. I know this place was no great shakes foodwise but they used to make a fairly decent paella, and I like the fish tank behind the bar.

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Saba Blue Water Cafe
208 W 4th St Ste D, Austin, TX 78701

Jun 23, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

RIP part III: Austin Restaurant Closings

It is definitely closed; place is dark and there's a "for lease" sign out front. But I have no idea what happened. I think mac8111 is right - given the location, it was probably an expense account business trip place, and that sort of traffic has pretty well dried up since the dot-bomb blowup. So why the people who run this city still have this damnable "if we build it they will come" attitude about putting up more hotels, I sure don't know.

Jun 23, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

Round Rock visits - help a Boston hound out of a rut?

Pork is no problem for me. Now I definitely have to try it out. Thanks!

Jun 18, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

Jeffrey's V. Fabi and Rosi for 30th Bday Dinner

Bench seating is more cost effective. It takes less room per table so you can get one or two more tables in the same space. More tables = more people seated = more income.

Jun 17, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

Round Rock visits - help a Boston hound out of a rut?

Go south a bit to Pflugerville and try the European Bistro. It's run by a couple of little old Hungarian ladies. The goulash and the cabbage rolls are fantastic. But don't eat the cabbage rolls unless you will spend the rest of the day in the open air.

There is supposed to be a new Bavarian restaurant open in Pflugerville, but I don't know anything about it.

Jun 17, 2010
Thorkel in Austin

Drinking, Eating and Watching the World Cup in Austin, Texas 2010

The Apothecary wine bar on Burnet is showing all the games. They have a fair wine list and some good food selections. It's a pleasantly dark place. If you have any allergies to glutens or wheat, this is the place to go. They have recipes that are entirely gluten and wheat free.

Jun 16, 2010
Thorkel in Austin