Lucy’s

 

 
James Holmes has taken the wildly popular chicken offered at brunch at Olivia and also sold at the Austin City Limits Music Festival and turned it into a new casual concept Lucy’s  Fried Chicken.  They are located at 2218 College Avenue near the corner of Congress and Oltorf.  I grew up in Travis Heights very near here and can definitely see this place turning into a neighborhood favorite.  Yet another reason to miss my old hood.

The place offers a full bar with craft cocktails and all Texas beers, a covered porch area with heaters and fans for whatever Texas weather might hold, and a music selection that is fine blend of classic Country and Honky Tonk.

 

Of course, the most important question is, “How’s the chicken?”  Best. Damn. Chicken. In. Austin.  They use locally sourced farm raised birds that they obviously butcher themselves.  My three piece basket actually had four pieces in it because the breast was so large they split it in two.  I love breast meat but sometimes with larger pieces you have to sacrifice the perfect crust to meat ratio you get with smaller pieces.  Not at Lucy’s.  Oh, and that crust.  Crispy, crunchy, salty, and slightly spicy.  At $9 for 3 pieces of chicken with no sides, it is a little pricey compared to chain places but the quality is well worth it.

I got the black eyed peas and cornbread stuffing as sides.  They were good versions of country classics but not as outstanding as the chicken.  I will have to try some more of their offerings like collard greens or Mexican Coke sweet potatoes to find a better match.  I did really enjoy the starter I had of fried chicken livers with an extremely spicy dipping sauce.  Again that crunchy crust won me over especially against the creamy interior of the livers.  The menu offers many diverse options like oysters both raw and grilled, chicken boudin, deep fried deviled eggs, and even calf fries.  Reasons for many more visits.
I ended my first visit to Lucy’s with a piece of Sweet Tea Pie from Olivia pastry chef Taff Mayberry.  I was intrigued when I first heard about it and despite being stuffed to the gills, I had to give it a try.  It was a custardy filling and the tea gave it a caramel flavor.  Loved it!  Loved it even more when I got the recipe in an email from Tasting Table.  Try it at Lucy’s and if you like it give the recipe a whirl.

Sweet Tea Pie
Recipe adapted from Taff Mayberry, Lucy’s Fried Chicken, Austin, TX
Yield: One 10-inch pie
INGREDIENTS
Crust1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold and diced into ½-inch cubes

⅓ cup ice water

Filling

1 cup hot water

2 orange pekoe tea bags

2½ tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons medium-grind cornmeal

⅔ teaspoon kosher salt

2½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into cubes

11 egg yolks

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS
1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Using the paddle attachment on low speed, add the butter into the flour mixture, beating until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on, gradually add the ice water. Beat until a dough just forms.2. Form the dough into a rough circle and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Remove the dough and set aside to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch-round-and-¼-inch thick circle. Carefully place the dough over a 10-inch pie pan with about 1½ to 2 inches of dough hanging over the edge. Press the dough over the edge and use a fork to crimp the rim of the crust. Refrigerate the dough while you prepare the filling.

4. Make the filling: Preheat the oven to 350° and move the rack to the center of the oven. In a coffee cup, pour the hot water over the tea bags. Set aside to brew for 5 minutes, then remove and discard the bags. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal and salt. Set aside. In a large, heatproof mixing bowl, whisk together the yolks and sugar. Whisk in the reserved tea and lemon juice. Whisk in the flour mixture.

5. Fill a medium saucepot with water and bring to a simmer. Place the mixing bowl with the sweet-tea filling over the simmering water and add the butter in four batches, whisking until each batch is melted before adding the next batch. Pour the filling into the chilled pie shell and place in the oven on the center rack. Bake until the center jiggles but does not ripple and the top is a deep brown, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes (cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil if it begins to brown too much). Remove the pie from the oven and set aside to rest at room temperature until cool. Refrigerate and serve cold or at room temperature.

I noticed on the chalkboard wall where the special were written that Lucy’s was offering their first steak night the following Tuesday.  At $19 for a 13 oz. strip steak with 2 sides of potato gratin and spicy green beans along with bone marrow and a roll, I had to check it out.  I was going to a book club meeting on later in the evening so I found myself back at Lucy’s right at 5pm and I was honored to be the first customer on the first steak night and it was indeed worth the trip.  My steak was charred  on the outside and a perfect rare in the middle.  The gratin was slightly underdone but I chalked that up to being so early in the evening.  The green beans had a nice crunch to them without being undercooked and a nice punch of tomatoey spice.  I used the marrow as meat butter on my roll. Mmmmm, meat butter.  So check out Lucy’s and let me know when you are going because I will probably meet you there.

 

 

Week of 1000 Cocktails Part 1

As the weather gets colder, Austin turns from the outdoor festival mecca to the indoor cocktail soiree.  I kicked the season off with a bang last week doing 4 parties in 1 week.  That may seem like a long weekend to some but it was a wonderfully exhausting tour of some of the best in town for me.

First up was the Amuse Bouche party at the Carillon.  Josh Watkins and his team came up with 8 delicious bites paired with matching wines.  The  guests were free to nibble and socialize between the stations and revisit their favorites as often as they liked.  My favorite was the lobster rillette with caviar and curry aioli but other bites included duck confit ravioli with duck consomme, grilled bronzino with chorizo, charred tomato and corn, and hamachi with foie gras mousse, citrus riesling chutney, and currant reduction.  

The service was impeccable with each station attendant giving not only great descriptions of the food but also the wines and why they were chosen to pair.  Unsightly dirty plates were quickly whisked away and fresh real silver readied for the next bite.  The best and the brightest stars in the Austin food scene were there as well making for a delightful evening of food related chatter.  The regular tables were all full as well as a private party going on upstairs but the kitchen cranked out small batches continually ensuring a fresh taste.  I hope they put on another show like this soon!

Next up was a fundraiser for the Sustainable Food Center which is a marvelous organization that promotes eating locally and runs one of the biggest farmers markets in the area.  When I saw the chefs list for the dinner, I immediately bought a ticket.  Seven of the best in town in one meal!  The dinner was held at La Condesa with a pre-dinner cocktail party upstairs at Malverde.  We even had mixologist rock stars including local legend Bill Norris.

Hors d’oeuvres from Zack Northcutt at Mulberry included Richardson’s farm pork sausage wrapped around quail eggs for a delicious scotch egg and foie gras hot dogs with chutney.   The spices used for the hot dog masked any of the delicate flavor of the foie but I appreciated the creative effort.

After munchies and cocktails upstairs, we were seated downstairs in a family style setting.  I was seated at a booth with a couple of very interesting ladies that I enjoyed getting to know as the best in local produce and meats were showcased for us by the finest chefs in town.  First up was Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due Supper Club.  Get on Griffiths’ mailing list for dinners as well as charcuterie offerings at the farmers market.  The catfish terrine he made for the dinner that night came from fish so local that they probably had relatives swimming just blocks from us.  The fish was neither muddy tasting nor overpowering in this creamy concoction.  Fresh herbs and crunchy flatbread dressed up the common catfish.

Todd Duplechan from Trio was up next with gulf shrimp served on top of bear boudin.  Cajun boudin is basically a sausage casing stuffed with a rice dressing similar to dirty rice.  Crawfish, alligator, and pork are more traditionally used as the protein in a boudin, so the bear meat was a nice riff on the classic.  The taste of bear meat depends on age, size, and even what his diet consisted of but most closely tastes to me like a cross between venison and pork.

Rene Ortiz, our host at La Condesa, did not disappoint with one of the best bites in a stellar night with caramelized pork hock and belly, beetroot and chili marmelade, and watermelon radish and basil salad.  The pork was a meltingly tender blend of meat and fat encased in the thinnest crackle of a perfectly caramelized shell.  A spicy marmelade on top played off the sweet sauce beneath to strike a harmonic chord on the tongue.

James Holmes from Olivia served an absolute work of art with crispy braised lamb topped with bison bresaola with mustard tuile.  Bresaola is an air dried salty meat, so gourmet jerky bits on top of chicken fried lamb.  Delicious!  Somehow I have not found my way to Olivia yet.  But I will very, very soon.  Holmes even joined us at our table after his course and we chatted about his use of offal and other cuts of meat not commonly used like his famous lamb’s tongue.

Paul Qui from Uchiko has to be the hottest thing in town with the very successful launch of Uchiko in July as well as his wildly popular trailer East Side Kings located behind Liberty Bar.  He is kind of Austin’s version of David Chang taking Asian flavors and street food to a new level.  Tonight we had quail with fuyu persimmons, fried cashew miso, and marigold.  The delicate quail was cooked to perfection, only a shade past pink so it was still moist and tender.  Sweet persimmon on top with the crunchy fried cashew miso beneath blend to create contrast of taste and texture.

Shawn Cirkiel from parkside served a salad course with the best produce he could find at the farmers market.  There were ribbons of roots, veggie chips, table pickles, relishes, as well as fresh herbs and greens all arranged in an abstract canvas.  So much more than a simple salad, this veggie plate was an absolute showcase of produce all grown within fifty miles of Austin.


Dessert came from La Condesa’s Laura Sawicki with goat’s milk cremeux, apple and quince confit, and sherry gastrique.  Cremeux translates literally as “creamy”.  It is a cross between a mousse and a custard, very light.  The tart quince contrasted nicely with the apples giving a taste of fall to the barely set cream beneath.

Whew!  I’m worn out just reliving the festivities.  Next up is part two with a mixology class and a $500 bottle of wine.

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