Nestled in a cozy neighborhood right off historic Sixth Street, Nightcap is a delightfully welcome reprieve from the fast-paced hustle of downtown Austin. From the moment you step inside this quaint bungalow-turned-restaurant, it feels like being at home with close friends. The world slows down a little and you can relax and enjoy all the little things that make this place so wonderful, from the coat racks adorned with scarves and plush armchairs with throw blankets to the gorgeous original wallpaper in the dining room and antique hardback novels used as check presenters. Nightcap is a true Austin gem that has been imagining and serving up one-of-a-kind fusion cuisine for four years, along with charm, character and super inventive hand-crafted cocktails from Austin’s top mixologists.
Since owner Christin Rowan opened Nightcap in 2013 along with chefs Drew and Adam, they have used feedback and input from their guests to evolve the restaurant from a late-night dessert and drink concept to a full service dining experience complete with tasty apertifs, soft candlelight and course after course of divinely delicious cuisine. The passion and love that owner Christin Rowan and chefs Drew and Adam have for food and people is evident in every detail and every bite.
Take a seat at the bar, at a table or outside on the sweet little porch where you can people watch while you dine. The whole restaurant includes a bar, main dining room, ‘Purple Room‘ for private dining and even an adorable backyard complete with lawn furniture and astroturf! With so many friendly faces and so much flavor, Nightcap makes the perfect dinner date, group date, friend date or even solo date for the south Austin foodie. Here’s a closer look at a four course meal at Nightcap:
First Course: Hamachi with “Vanna Blanco” Cocktail
It’s 6:15, the sun is setting in south Austin and warm light is streaming in through charming paned windows. The cocktail menu features a variety of fun drinks with fun names like “Miss Moneypenny” and “Rye you No Call?”. I sip on a “Vanna Blanco” cocktail with banhez mezcal, lillet rose and orange bitters while trying the popular Hamachi with puffed sorghum, lemon puree, yuzu kosho and ponzu sauce – recommended by both the server and the owner. The yellowtail is fresh, chilled and beautifully presented on a pristine plate, puffed sorghum and tart lemon provide the perfect tang to the flavor of the fish and each unique flavor is complemented by the dark citrusy Vanna Blanco. Note: every meal can be modified to accommodate all kinds of diets and restrictions.
Second Course: Charred Broccoli with Parmesan and Broccoli Puree
Just as the moon appears, so does the second plate and it looks even more delicious and beautiful than the first! A few pieces of charred broccoli are surrounded by drops of burnt lemon and light parmesan foam and topped with delectable parmesan crisps to create a perfectly salty, cheesy creation. The sweet lemon drops are a surprisingly good pairing with the savory flavor of the broccoli and parmesan. And every accompaniment, from the broccoli puree and pickled broccoli tops to the unbelievably good parmesan foam, creates a mouth-watering mélange of both flavors and textures that keep your mouth guessing! Just leave your faith with the chefs, and they will not disappoint! This dish is highly recommended for vegetarian, omnivores and anyone who loves parmesan!
Third Course: Seared Atlantic Salmon
As evening turns into night, more couples and groups make their way into the restaurant and the sounds of laughter and friendly conversation fill the dining room. Outside, a group partakes in a fun game of Corn Hole as they sip their cocktails and congregate on the lawn. I start the third course of Seared Atlantic Salmon with roasted baby russet potatoes, horseradish olive oil puree and crispy sunchoke. The delicate fish is impeccably paired with the rich, salty flavor of the sunchoke and horseradish. The roasted potatoes, usually sprinkled with rye, are instead adorned with peppers to both accommodate a gluten-free diet and provide a warm spice that complements the salmon flawlessly.
Fourth Course: “Ants on a Log” with “Coffee and Cigarettes” Cocktail
It’s 8 PM, the restaurant is filling quickly and I receive a post-dinner cocktail of “Coffee and Cigarettes“, which contains bonded bourbon, coffee liqueur, house bitters, orange oil and a soft tobacco smoke rub! The cocktail is presented with all the flare and panache as the rest of the meal, along with a totally off-menu dessert recently created by the chefs. The cocktail is dark, smoky and fragrant, like orange incense, turning every sip into a delight for all the senses! “Coffee and Cigarettes” makes the perfect post-dinner sipping treat. The mystery dessert is presented as an updated version of the childhood treat ‘Ants on a Log’, and is comprised of cool celery sorbet, peanut butter panna cotta, dehydrated celery, raisin jam and, last but not least, actual dehydrated black ants!! I tentatively take my first bite (complete with a few pieces of ant) and I am immediately reminded of all my favorite flavors from childhood! The light celery sorbet and creamy peanut butter panna cotta are absolutely genius interpretations of the beloved after-school snack, and even the black ants provide an interesting raisin-like texture to the whole dessert! Once you get over the fact that you’re eating bugs, this dessert-along with just about anything else you try here-will quickly become one of your all time favorites!
Check out a video clip of ‘Dinner & Drinks at Nightcap’ here.