Review: Franklin Barbecue. Austin, TX.

Franklin Barbecue
900 E 11th St
Austin, TX 78702

That’s right. BBQ Mecca. I went there and you’re jealous. We all know the drill.

After my original attempt to eat delicious BBQ was thwarted, I returned early the next morning (8:38AM to be exact) to wait in line for the 11AM opening. I was fourth in line (actually sixth when you consider spouses not seen in photo).

Hanging out wasn’t too bad. I sat and read GET JIRO!, drank some coffee (sorry about my hairy legs) and before you know it, the wife and daughter had shown up and the doors were open.

No Tom Petty, the waiting wasn’t hardest part.

The hardest part for me about eating here is writing a review. It’s recieved so much praise, I wasn’t sure that I had much more to contribute to the conversation. It’s amazing. Everyone knows it. What else is there to add?

But after stewing on it, soul searching, and consulting with my spirit-animal (it’s an alpaca in case you’re wondering), I decided that it was still worth getting my thoughts on the matter out there.

So here they are:

If you grew up in Texas like I did, everything about Franklin Barbecue will seem familiar. The building is like a million other barbecue joints in the state. The aroma of the smoldering post oak permeating from the smoker out back will remind you of another time when you had really good Texas barbecue. Like I said, it’s familiar.

At the same time (and this is the hard part to explain), it’s completely new. It’s fresh and it’s like nothing you’ve ever had because….. well…….. it’s perfect. Aaron Franklin puts on a clinic daily. And that clinic is about how to make flawless Texas barbecue. It has to been eaten to be believed. It’s the kind of meal that makes your eyes light up on first bite. The kind of meal in which you immediately know you’re eating something special, dare I say magical. It’s similar to barbecue you’ve had, just way (way way way…) better.

Here was our spread: 1.5lbs brisket (1/2 lean 1/2 fatty), 1lb ribs, 2 sausage links, .5lb pulled pork, potato salad.

The brisket (especially the fatty) is pure magic. As are the ribs. Juicy, savory, fatty, perfect. That’s how I’d describe them. The sausage is different than what you’d expect, but every bit as good. The pulled pork was for my wife and tasted fine (didn’t want to waste too much room for it). The potato salad was standard tasting mustard based fare.

We actually didn’t eat all of this, but we did down most of it.

We also ordered Banana bourbon and pecan tarts, but we didn’t eat them until about an hour later. They were great, though I can’t remember who the vendor was.

As we drove off from Franklin in a complete state of protein-overload, we both had smiles on our faces. I propositioned my wife for some filthy BBQ sex and lucky for her she declined. Later I blamed the meat, it had put me in a state of euporia in which I thought anything would be possible.

RATING:*****

Franklin Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Review: Salty Sow. Austin, TX.

Salty Sow
1917 Manor Road
Austin, TX 78722

During our trip to Austin, I wanted to try one of the newer joints in the area. After reading about Salty Sow, I thought it would be a nice choice. It’s from the guys who recently sold Eddy V’s to the parent company of Red Lobster and also behind the recently expanded to Dallas Hopdoddy. Apparently the inspiration behind the restaurant is the Purple Pig in Chicago.

We went here with our daughter and some friends with kids. It isn’t set up super great for kids, that’s not meant as a criticism, just a note because I don’t think it was meant to be.

The menu reads like a list comprised of the hottest trends in restaurants. Ex. fries cooked in duck fat, pork belly, house made charcuterie, brussel sprouts, etc. While not coming across as super original the results were outstanding.

Starting off were the oyster boudin fritters with chipotle remoulade. They were oysters covered with rice, made into balls, covered with batter and deep fried. I dug em, Mrs. Roadrunner thought they were just okay. The remoulade was nice and had a good smokey / peppery flavor.

With the oyster fritters came out the triple fried duck fat french fries topped with a 110 minute egg. The fries were great, though I thought the egg on top didn’t add a ton to them (besides sogginess). The housemade ketchup and cold bernaise were good, but the fries stood on there own plenty.

The truffle deviled eggs with smoke pork belly were outstanding. The small pieces of porkbelly mixing with the intoxicating aroma of truffle oil was completely intoxicating. I don’t care what you say, I still love truffle oil and I’m not afraid to say it.

For sides, we ordered crispy brussel sprout leaves with pecorino and golden raisins. THEY ARE BONKERS. The best brussel sprouts I’ve ever had at a restaurant. So good. Must have if you go here.

The crisp chicken thighs with smashed potatoes and neck bone gravy appear to be on the menu to satisfy the less adventurous eaters. Not bad, but nothing to write home about.

The other main course we had was Petite bone-in filets with shiitake mushrooms and bone marrow red wine sauce. As opposed to the chicken thighs, these were amazing. The steak was cooked perfectly and seasoned perfectly. The bone marrow red wine sauce mixed with the juices from the meat combined to make sheer magic. Running the mushrooms through the sauce was purely dleightful.

The dessert, Bananas foster beignets with honey nutmeg ice cream, was the low point of the meal. Not sure I can place what was off with them, just weren’t very good. It seems to be a common complaint after amazing meal that the dessert isn’t that great (see Riffle NW, Toro Bravo).

If I gave half stars, this place would be 4.5. It’s definitely the best restaurant in my grouping of 4 star restaurants. Like their other restaurants, I expect this place to start expanding and be a big hit wherever it opens.

RATING:****

Salty Sow on Urbanspoon

Review: Counter Cafe. Austin, TX.

 Counter Cafe
626 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703

One weekend, with my wife needing to be in San Antonio for a bachelorette party on Saturday, we decided to spend our Friday in Austin (of course eating). The plan was to get down early for lunch and wait in line at Franklin’s.

Unfortunately, a wreck on I35 slowed us down an hour and by the time we got to Franklin’s they were out of brisket.

Disheveled, distraught, and a million other words that begin with “dis”, we regrouped and headed over to Counter Cafe. I intentionally left the part out where we listened to Coldplay and cried in our car.

Counter cafe is a tiny little diner with a handful of 2 top tables and counter service. When we got there, all the tables were filled and we waited a bit for something to open up. After a while, 3 seats opened up at the counter (not the best situation with a 2 year old, but we went with it).

The food is gourmet diner food made with organic and as local as possible ingredients. It’ a common concept idea these days, but Counter Cafe was a pioneer of the genre.

The first plate we ordered was the Counter Burger. Topped with organic veggies and cheddar, the all natural beef was a nice thickness and plenty juicy. The white bun had a sweetness that I’m not super into, but the burger was solid none-the-less.

The fries were outstanding. Simple but amazing.

Mrs. Roadrunner ordered Crab Cake Benedict. The crab seemed like it needed to be pick through a little better (too much shell). The toast and egg were fine, nothing to write home about.

Overall, this place is a solid choice for the hipster diner scene. The food won’t blow you away, but you could do a lot worse.

RATING: ***

Counter Cafe on Urbanspoon