Barley Swine

Back in October, I spent several days working at the University of Texas at Austin. I’ve previously blogged about the UT-Baylor football game, dinner at Uchiko, and the concert itself.

There’s one more thing that has to be blogged : a delicious dinner at a (fairly new) Austin restaurant called Barley Swine. Jerry Junkin took me and his grad students to dinner there on my last night in town. (As I pointed out to both Jerry and the grad students, this is not how most grad students eat outside of UT. Leftovers stolen from the band refrigerator this was not.) The food was maybe the best I’ve had in Austin, and it looked pretty, too. I just hope that more than two months after the trip, I can match up the pictures with the descriptions from the menu…

Okra is gross, right? Turns out: no. It can be really, really good, as it was in this dish: grilled okra, black-eyed peas, hush puppy, and goat feta. Not surprisingly, the hush puppy was even better than the hush puppies I grew up on at Long John Silvers.

This is soft duck egg, grilled zucchini salad, popcorn, and goat cheese. Yeah, popcorn. With duck egg. How they imagined this would be good — and be right about that — I’ve no idea.

I think this is the blue crab scrambled egg, almond, papaya, and avocado…

Ah, but this is grilled butternut squash, peanut, jalapeño, and coconut milk. These combinations are all crazy and somehow perfect.

This is pulled pig face, potato salad, pickle, egg yolk, and apple. Lordy, this was good. I don’t eat much meat anymore, but I’m glad I made an exception for this. I had no idea that “pig face” could be a compliment.

This was another special — a crusted, grilled fish. It was so good, we ordered another round of it.

As he does at every meal, Jerry Junkin ordered a bottle of the blood of a sacrificed band geek.

Crispy stuffed pig ankle, fois gras, beans, and hot sauce.

Grilled lamb loin and sausage, eggplant, falafel, and persimmon.

Rabbit, schnitzel, shishito pepper, radish, and chanterelle.

This was a special, I think, and I don’t recall exactly what it is, but I think it was another amazing pork dish — and I think we ordered two of this one, too.

Dessert number one: olive oil mousse, meyer lemon, parsley sorbet, and chickpea cookie. None of this sounds good, but all of it was.

German chocolate cake.

Lastly: Hefeweizen (wheat beer!) donuts, smoked pork ice cream (!!!), whiskey, and chile. Yes, that’s a strip of bacon sitting perfectly on the smoked pork ice cream. This had to have been one of craziest, most exciting desserts I’ve ever had. Salty, sweet, and spicy — with BACON?!

This place is incredible. It’s in a weird location in south Austin, and it’s pretty small, and they don’t take reservations, and it’s communal seating, but all of that is worth it as soon as you taste the first dish. Go with a big enough group so you get the full table of 6 (and don’t end up sitting with strangers) and you have a large enough party to order one of everything on the menu like we did. This may be the best restaurant in Austin right now.


Mitch says

Wow. Holy wow.

Jer says

Dang. Times have changed. When I was in Austin the $3.95 chicken fried steak at The Stallion was the standard for good food.

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