The endless lists of where and what to eat in Austin can be daunting if you don’t know where to look. Just about every local restaurant in the city offers the chance to venture out of your comfort zone and discover a new favorite dish. With so many flavors and so little time it can be difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for – especially if you don’t even know what that is! Which is why upscale restaurants around Austin are taking the pressure off and letting their chefs run the show with unique prix fixe menus. Every chef has a story to tell, and they use these exclusive tasting menus to tell it. These fixed food menus are creative, spectacularly fresh and truly one of a kind. So if you’re trying to romance a date – or just your taste buds – take a journey into the culinary unknown and boldly taste what no one has tasted before in these 8 scrumptious chef’s tasting menus around Austin.
Three-Course Prix Fixe Menu @ Lenoir
Started in 2012 by talented husband and wife cooking duo Todd and Jessica Duplechan, Lenoir is a fantastic new concept in fusion cuisine in south Austin. Using sustainable, locally sourced meats and produce, Lenoir has created a farm-to-table menu that blends the fresh flavors of the season with all our favorite foods from the south. Referred to as “hot weather food”, each dish is thoughtfully prepared with zesty, citrusy flavors and a little bit of Texas flare. When it comes to what tastes good, the chefs know best. Which is why dinner guests are guided directly to the divine three course prix fixe menu, which includes an array of yummy selections like refreshing Melon Ceviche, Ginger Chili Eggplant and sinful Guava Layer Cake. If you’re still feeling peckish after three courses and wine pairings, you can even add a bonus fourth course for 10 bucks. Because Texans don’t believe in small anything!
Supper Club @ Dai Due
$109 (serves 2)
Dai Due is a modern country-style restaurant in east Austin that serves organic farm fare plus deliciously salty free-range meats. This fancy butcher shop offers great meat recipes, whole hog roasts and even teaches cooking classes from the New School Traditional Cookery. Dai Due dishes out supremely good breakfast and lunch options throughout the week along with an formidable selection of Texas-grown wines, local beers, craft cocktails, french presses and organic libations. But at night Dai Due transforms into a fabulous community supper club where dinner guests can try some of the chef’s signature culinary creations and spend the evening being spoiled by one delicious dish after the next. Each nightly supper club dinner is served family style and comes with an appetizer such as Dry Aged Venison Ceviche, a second course of grilled meats and veggies and a delightful dessert with coffee or herbal tea. Tuesdays and Thursdays the supper club features “wild card” foods like wild game. But the incredible Saturday supper club is a humongous mixed grill for two that runs the gamut of meats and fresh vegatables from short ribs to skewers. No matter what night you choose, you’re in for a different and delectable surprise.
Chef’s Tasting @ Barley Swine
$95/Person $55 with wine pairings
Located in diverse north Austin, Barley Swine is a classy take on traditional southern fare. The fixed priced menus at this farm-centered restaurant are full of local and regional produce, southern charm and eclectic tastes. Executive chef Bryce and his eminent team of sommeliers and chefs are dedicated to supporting local farmers and ranchers from the hill country. Some tempting food offerings at Barley Swine include SmokedGoat Shoulder, Akaushi Beef Tartare and Shiitake Pasta, along with cleverly crafted cocktails like Talk Birdy to Me and Lanky Texan. But if you want to experience all chef Bryce and his talented team have to offer, opt for the chef’s tasting menu, which rotates by season and includes inventive dishes like Smoked Duck Tamales, Bacon and Apple Tart and Cornbread Cake. To kick up the flavor of your meal even further, ask about their custom wine pairings, which perfectly accentuate the flavors of each dish.
Sunday Dinner @ Olive & June
Hidden in a quiet neighborhood off 35th street, Olive & June is a romantic little Italian fusion food gem in central Austin. This multi-level restaurant has superb wine selections and drink specials, scrumptious foods and a giant outdoor terrace shaded by ancient oak trees. Mondays are Mezzo Mondays with 1/2 off all wine by the glass, and their regular happy hours offer 1/2 off beer, cocktails and shared plates. Some of the succulent dinner dishes at Olive & June include Ricotta Ravioli with roasted butternut squash, Texas Quail with rosemary roasted potatoes and Stuffed Calamari with pepernota. But if you want to taste the very best that chef Shawn Cirkiel and Chef Brian Moses have created, then join them for Sunday Dinner and partake in the perfection that is the chef’s tasting menu. Every Sunday, Chef Cirkiel and chef Moses unveil a new and intriguing food palette that flawlessly complements the season and the ambience. This incredibly indulgent 3 course meal includes an antipasti such as Passtatelli in Brodo, a Primi such as Smoked Fish Cappelletti, and a lip-smacking Secondi such as Roasted Pork Belly and Spaghetti Squash.
Tip: If you decide to bring the whole family with you to enjoy Sunday Dinner, then your kids (under 12) eat free!
Chef’s Tasting Menu @ Wink
$73-$103/Person Add wine pairings: $37-$47/Person
Tucked away in a low-key locale in north Austin, Wink is an intimate little dinner and drink spot that serves locally sourced and influenced cuisine. Consistently ranked as one of the best fine dining venues in the city, Wink is the perfect blend of fancy fare and old school Austin. This unpretentious upscale restaurant also boasts a staggering wine collection that covers the whole spectrum of wine genres, from Rose and sparkling to French wines and Old World wines. You can try to pick from an irresistible dinner menu that includes Steamed Pei Mussels, Foie Gras on upside down beet cake or Red Deer on sweet potatoes – but it’ll be one of the toughest decisions of your week! Instead, let the chefs dazzle you with their own selection of handpicked favorites that come in both vegetarian and omnivore options. This multi-faceted food tasting experience can be enjoyed in either five or seven courses, with tantalizing foods like Hamachi Crudo with farm pepper, scallops on fresh lentils and rich El Rey Chocolate Cake for dessert. And for a little extra it’s totally worth it to get a refined wine pairing with each dish that helps bring out the many delicious facets of this amazing meal.