Menu for the Big Chill

big chill logo (1)

 

Menu is in for the Big Chill on June 26. Tickets still available here.

 

Drinks

Chameleon Cold-Brew   The Dude- Orange White Russian

 

Good Pop   “Pop”tails featuring Strawberry Lemonade and Hibiscus Mint

 

Bites

The Carillon   Chilled Cucumber-Avocado Soup with Jumbo Lump Crab, Crisp Wonton and Yuzu-Koshu

 

Celtic Seafare   Irish Soda Bread with Traditional Smoked Salmon, Dill Butter and Pickled Mustard Seed

 

Dolce Neve   Fromage Blanc and Peaches Gelato

 

Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts   Shrimp Ceviche with Coconut Lime

 

Finn & Porter   Basil Parmesan Cannoli

 

NadaMoo!   Bananas for PB & Chocolate and Vanilla Cha-Cha-Chai

 

Noble Sandwich Co.   Bierchiken- German style sausage with ground beef, pork and studded with chunks of ham

 

No Va Kitchen & Bar   Grilled & Chilled Watermelon Salad with lemon, pistachios, and basil

 

Pleasant Storage Room   Snapper Ceviche with Lime Mayo and Tostones

 

The Soup Peddler Real Food & Juice Bar   Green Gazpacho with Local Cucumbers

 

St. Philip   Savory-  Cherry Tomato Salad – yogurt, cucumber, herb dressing, lavash

 Sweet-   S’mores Chocolate mousse, torched meringue, graham cracker

 

Swift’s Attic   Silver Fox Snowcone- Caramelized white chocolate, almond granita, vanilla bean sherbet, and caramelized peaches

 

Thai Fresh   Green Curry w/ Bastrop Cattle Company Grassfed Beef and Thai Eggplants (Simmons Family Farm)

 

Trace   Coffee Custard Mandarin Creme with Streusel Crunch

 Nutty Passion Fruit Cake

 Citrus and Berry Mousse Shot

So which restaurant are you most excited to try??

Gus’s Fried Chicken

2014-01-07 16.13.12Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken started out in a tiny shack in a tiny town outside of Memphis more than 60 years ago. Fifth location in the chain just opened in Austin at 2nd and San Jacinto. With only 5 locations, it really is more of a spreading of the word than the opening of a chain. Austin, like many Southern cities has suffered from a lack of non-fast food, bone-in, slap your Grandma, authentic home-style fried chicken. Gus’s is definitely not fast food. Count on at least a 20 minute wait from when you order. That is a good sign of fresh fried, piping hot chicken. The breading is a thin but tasty crisp crust with a spicy kick. The chicken is juicy and moist with flavor to the bone. 2014-01-07 15.49.23

Here is the menu for Gus’s. Meals come with baked beans and slaw with other sides available for a small substitution fee. The baked beans are of the canned variety with another welcome dose of heat. I opted for mac and cheese over slaw which again was more from a box than homemade but they do sprinkle a healthy bit of real cheese over the top. I went on one of our rare cold days, so the barely warm mac failed to melt the added cheese, which probably would have been a nice touch. Instead it was an unpleasant combination of odd textures.

2014-01-07 15.49.36Your meal comes on styrofoam plates with plastic silverware and slice of white bread. Nothing wrong with that, it isn’t supposed to be fancy. It is just the sides might stay as warm as the chicken if they were served on something that could hold the heat.

2014-01-07 16.39.51I confirmed that the pies are made in-house but was disappointed with the sad chess pie that they brought to finish my meal. The crust was obviously pre-made and slightly burned. The filling, although tasty, was weepy from being overcooked. Considering they have been open less than a week, these small failings are easily overlooked and most likely will be improved upon in the weeks to come.

2014-01-07 15.49.53The restaurant has a casual vibe with plenty of neon on the walls and blues in the background. There are several beers available including 4 or 5 locals. I hear that there have been lines at times but when I went around 3pm on a weekday, the only waiting was for the fresh, hot chicken.

2014-01-07 16.12.35I had to try Gus’s after seeing several shout outs from my favorite local high end chef’s in town including one who went here 3 days in a row when they first opened. Despite the few small criticisms, I get it. The chicken is damn delicious and some of the best in town. I still think Lucy’s is the best but Gus’s is a welcome addition. I suggest you check it out before the hipsters standing in line at In-N-Out figure it out. I was sitting next to a pedicab driver who wandered in and said it was as good as he remembered from Bonnaroo, so I think the word may be out soon.

 

Wink

winkcircleOne of my favorite restaurants in Austin is Wink.  Mark Paul and Stewart Scruggs do upscale with a certain casualness that is required in Austin.  The restaurant is small and can feel a little cramped but the service is adept at making you feel comfortable. 

The menu changes daily to highlight the best available ingredients.  They feature many artisan products and local farms like Pure Luck Dairy and Boggy Creek Farm.  Portions are on the small side to encourage multiple courses.  They also have a wine bar next door which has a fantastic happy hour.

I dined at Wink recently with a couple of ladies I had met at a Gonzo dinner.  One of my dinner companions was a foie “virgin” and I told her we must go to Wink for your first time!  They serve it as an appetizer AND as a dessert.  Unfortunately on the evening we were there they had run out of the foie dessert but it is spectacular and I highly recommend it.

We started off with the foie gras appetizer portion served on cubes of brioche with a marvelously tart-sweet balsamic gastrique.  The liver was perfectly seared, giving a slight crunch to the buttery velvet texture.

Next came the scallops.  They were large U10’s with a carmelized sear that gave way to a meltingly tender interior.  I wish I had kept better notes because I remember this being served with a rather unusual mushroom that lent an interesting textural contrast. 

Since we couldn’t have the foie dessert, we went for another culinary adventurous course with the sweetbreads.  Wink is the first place I ever tried this delicacy of thymus and pancreas glands.  I am not an eater of all things disgusting nor do I enjoy the Fear Factor type shows where contestants have to eat pig testicles.  But I do love some offal when it is cooked right and Wink does it RIGHT.  A crisp exterior with a creamy interior perfectly seasoned.  Almost as good as the foie.  Almost.

Then my favorite course at Wink, dessert!  Mark Paul is a freaking dessert genius.  My all time favorite dessert anywhere is his Chocolate Soup.  A bittersweet chocolate soup is paired with quenelles of milk chocolate ginger mousse and garnished with candied bits of ginger and orange rinds.  We also had the sampler plate of some of his other greatest hits which has a simple creme brulee, a flourless cake made with El Rey chocolate, and the divine lemon curd served in a crisp meringue shell with candied lemon zest.

I floated home on a cloud of foodie contentment, occasionally giggling as I recalled such a decadent dream.  (Yes, I realize this sounds like pretentious crap but an evening at Wink allows for a little self indulgence.)

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