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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Upmarket restaurant

Tue–Thu 6:00pm–10:00pm
Fri–Sat 6:00pm–11:00pm

Features Date-friendly, good wines
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


Congress Ave. Area
200 Congress Ave.
Austin, TX
(512) 827-2760
A world-class act that’s a standard-bearer for food, wine, cocktails, and service

The grande dame of the Congress/Bar Congress/Second triumvirate is elegant and self-composed. She doesn’t fall all over herself to convince you, with thumping music and garish colors, that she’s worth your time. Her attendants are informed and efficient, but congenial. Although imperfect (hardly), she strives to show us the very best of the world, and she often succeeds. Yet her tastes are never so far down the path that we cannot follow.

These tastes are revealed either in a seven-course chef’s tasting, or a three-course prix fixe menu (with an optional fourth course, plus dessert). In the latter, each course offers several choices that change frequently, but may include such lofty and often exquisitely balanced combinations as sous-vide artichoke with tart grape agrodolce and a creamy burrata that escapes wateriness. Lobster bisque outdoes itself with the addition of fruity tomato jam and a fritter studded with chewy, sweet tail meat. While there is invention—Campari pop rocks, parmesan foam, Clementine beignets, uni meringue—it never feels showy or smug; a capable precision brings purpose to each bell and whistle. Likewise, at the bar, near-perfect frothing, blending, and muddling gives weight to the cleverness of certain combinations. The spectacular wine list is generous with its range, yet makes no concessions, and great advice is easy to come by. Rare is the Austin restaurant that nails all the necessary elements, but when it does, it’s worth every penny.

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