Review By: Stefanie Parks –
I was having lunch with a friend of mine from school, and when I mentioned that I was going to Austin for work, he told me that one of his good friends recently opened up a restaurant there and that I HAD to go check it out. It’s the new hot-spot in Austin for foodies, and my friend even went as far as to say that he would call his friend to make sure that I could get in (they don’t take reservations).
Well, he stuck to his word. The day before I left for Austin, my friend texted me and told me that I had a reservation at Barley Swine at 8:15 on Wednesday night. I was pumped!
When my brother and I arrived at the restaurant, the hostess told us that a table would be ready for us in just a few minutes… Right after she told the party of two just ahead of us that it would be an hour for their table. Good thing we had a connection because trying to convince Jason to wait any amount of time, let alone a whole hour for a meal would probably be near impossible. It was hard enough to convince him to go to a place where we’d be eating fois gras, rabbit, and pig ankles for dinner (just kidding – he was a great sport!).
A spot opened up at the bar, and I was secretly praying that it was ours. It was the best seat in the house, in my opinion, because we could see everything going on in the kitchen, and more importantly, all of the food coming out of it. We got lucky again, and were seated at the spot at the bar that I had been eyeing!
As soon as we sat down, I asked our waitress what the best local beers were on tap. There were exactly two beers from Austin, so that’s what we went with. One of them was a little on the heavy side, but they were both really good.
Once we were settled in with our drinks, our waitress told us that we should order everything at once and she would take care of spacing out all the dishes. Little did we know that this was because they bring the food out one dish at a time and so that literally each dish is better than the one that came out before it. It was amazing.
Everything on the menu looked awesome, but she recommended three dishes per person, so that’s what we went with. The first dish to come out was the grilled okra, black eyed peas, fig, hush puppy, and goat feta. I love okra and rarely see it on a menu (unless I’m at a Southern restaurant), so once I saw it, I knew I had to order it. I also love hush puppies, but then again, does anyone not? Each ingredient on its own was delicious, but the combination of all of them was out of this world. And that is exactly how I felt about each dish that came out after this one as well.
Next was a special of the night that our waitress recommended. Sweet potato, chipotle, house made bacon, Oktoberfest pecans, meyers lemon. It tasted like fall, and I loved every bite. Especially the bites with the house made bacon. It was thick and juicy and really unlike any bacon that I’ve ever had.
Then came the scrambled egg, blue crab, english muffin, papaya, and avocado. It was the dish that really stood out to my brother when we were ordering. It was a very interesting and different take on a breakfast dish, and even though it was probably my least favorite of the night, all of the flavors were still great.
Next came the rabbit, schnitzel, shishito pepper, radish, chanterelle, followed by the grilled lamb loin & sausage, eggplant, falafel, persimmon, followed by the crispy stuffed pig ankle, foie gras, beans, hot sauce. Each one of these dishes was literally out of this world and they were three of the best dishes that I’ve had in a very long time. Every ingredient in every dish was fantastic on its own but then when combined with all of the other ingredients, it just made the whole experience of the dish that much better. I can hardly even put it into words, but all I can say is Bravo to the chefs. What great planning and pairing of ingredients. I see why there is an option on the menu to buy beers for the kitchen. They certainly deserve them for putting together such an excellent menu with such fabulous and delicious ingredients.
As great as every single dish was at Barley Swine, the pig ankle really stole the show, in my opinion. I’ve never had pig ankle before, and to be honest I’m not even sure I ever knew you could eat pig ankle, but it was insane.
And then came the Hefeweizen doughnuts, smoked pork ice cream, whiskey, and fermented chile for dessert. As soon as I read the words “smoked pork ice cream,” I knew I had to try it (I was all like “smoked pork ice cream??? What!!??”). And I’m so happy I did because it was amazing. Give me some doughnuts, smoked pork ice cream and bacon any day and you can be sure that I will be one happy girl.
When I booked my trip to Austin, I knew I’d be having some awesome Mexican or BBQ, but I never expected the amazing foodie experience that I got at Barley Swine. Thank you, Jordie!!