Archive for the ‘Austin’ Category

Restaurant Review: Maggiano’s Little Italy

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Maggiano’s Little Italy
10910 Domain Dr #100, Austin, 78759
(512) 501-7870

  • Pepper Grinder Rating: 0 (They had several impressive pepper grinders in a server cubbyhole, but neglected to offer any to us.)
  • Bathroom Rating: 3
  • WiFi note: There’s free WiFi…if you’re using the conference room and have a password. Otherwise the restaurant seems to be built within a Farady Cage, as my iPhone frequently was unable to connect to AT&T at all.

Maggiano’s offers up tasty, overpriced Italian food. In that sense it’s much like Brio, with the added hassles of being in the Domain, which makes it hard to get to. We also had to wait for a table, even though I had made reservations (though we did get there a little bit early).

The first disappointment after being seated was the free bread: uninspired baguette rounds (though at least they were served warm) with unspiced olive oil. Both Reale’s, with their delicious breadsticks, and Brio, with a more interesting bread assortment and spiced olive oil, do a better job in the bread department.

The crab cakes appetizers were good, but not $15 for two good.

Service was attentive, with numerous free drink refills without having to ask.

For my entree, the veal picatta was both nicely done and had pretty generous portions (which is only fair, considering the price). I thought the angel hair aglio olio was underspiced.

For dessert I had a perfectly caramelized creme brulee with fruit.

It was a very good meal. It also cost some $50, without any alcoholic beverages. That, dealing with the hassle of The Domain, and dealing with the hassle of the crowds (“Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded”) make it hard to recommend.

If I’m hungry for great Italian food, Monday through Saturday I’m probably going to go to Reale’s if they’re not too packed. If it’s Sunday (when Reale’s is closed), I’d pick Brio over Maggiano’s.

[Cross-posted to The Logbook of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy.]

Shoegazer Sunday: The Swells’ “Golden”

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

The Swells were an Austin-based Shoegaze band. Here they are with “Golden.”

Evidently they’re now known as Seaholm Electric.

Yelp’s Top 100 Places To Eat Include Six from the Austin Area

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

So Yelp has release a Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. list. Their ratings, being based on actual diners, are very different than high-end restaurant critics, and include six places around Austin:

  • 8. Franklin Barbecue, Austin, TX
  • 35. Turf N’ Surf Po Boy, Austin, TX
  • 85. Uchiko, Austin, TX
  • 86. Little Deli & Pizzeria, Austin, TX
  • 91. Taste of Ethiopia, Pflugerville, TX
  • 99. Uchi, Austin, TX
  • Quick thoughts:

  • Yeah, because it just wasn’t hard enough to get Franklin BBQ already.
  • Uchiko and Uchi are run by the same people.
  • I’m really happy to see Taste of Ethiopia on here. It’s a swell joint run by great people.
  • By comparison, only one place made the cut in Houston, and none in Dallas…

    (Cross-posted to The Logbook of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy.)

    Prima Pizza Pasta Relocating, Mi Pizza Taking the Space

    Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

    A double-dose of restaurant relocation news I don’t think has been reported anywhere else:

    Prima Pizza Pasta has relocated from its location at Parmer and McNeil to a new location at Anderson Mill and 620 as of February 1st. (The news is so new they haven’t updated their website yet.)

    Taking the old Prima space on Parmer (as well as their phone number) is a new restaurant called Mi Pizza, which seems to focus on custom-designed 11 inch pizzas cooked in 5 minutes for $6.99.

    (News in route to The Logbook of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy.)

    Shoegazer Sunday: The Asteroid Shop’s “Dandelion”

    Sunday, January 26th, 2014

    Here again is Austin’s own The Asteroid Shop with a live version of their song “Dandelion.” Imagine a cross between Mazzy Star and The National.

    The guitar sound is fine, but they would be helped by having a female co-singer to harmonize with. They could really use a Hope Sandoval…

    Saturday Dining Conspiracy Restaurant Review: Imperia

    Friday, January 17th, 2014

    Imperia
    310 Colorado St. (Austin, 78701)
    (512) 472-6770

    We’d been hearing good things about Imperia for quite a while, so we thought they were a good choice for the first SDC of 2014.

    It lived up to the hype.

    Imperia serves up pan-Asian fusion cuisine that draws equally from Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisines (and probably a few others as well) in an attractive, understated space in the warehouse district (or what used to be called the warehouse district; they keep changing names and I don’t think there are any warehouses left). There’s a bar, but it doesn’t seem overemphasized the way it does in other downtown establishments.

    We started off with the pork belly steamed buns, which were delicious but definitely smaller than the steamed buns you get at the average dim sum restaurant. The calamari was very good, with a nicely light batter, but not enough to eclipse perennial champion The Clay Pit. For sushi, we picked something that stretched the definition:”The Hot Mess,” which the menu described as “Snow crab and shrimp atop a honey and avocado roll. Topped with Dynomite [sic] sauce and Kochijyan butter,” to which I can only add “what they said.” The individual portions were very tasty and came out in an escargot dish. (I also had two pieces of unagi, which were fine but undersized.)

    For my entree I had “Kinoko to Suteki,” which is a very savory steak and mushroom dish; the portions could have been a bit bigger, but it was in-line with downtown Asian fusion expectations. I also like the portion of Pad-Thai Dwight and I spilt.

    I can’t find an online listing for the dessert I had, which involved creme brulee, ice cream, caramel sauce and decadence. Service was pretty attentive.

    We ended up getting several entrees and appetizers, so the bill was substantial: more than $150 for three people including tax and tip. You’d be hard-pressed to get an appetizer, meal and drink for under $20, but you could probably do it for around $30. Just keep in mind that you’re not paying for Chinese food, you’re paying for a downtown Asian fusion restaurant, and adjust your expectations accordingly. (The biggest difference between Imperia and the late, unlamented Austin location of Roy’s is value. Though we ended up spending about as much at both places, we didn’t feel like we were being ripped off, and we didn’t leave still hungry.)

    Besides price, the biggest problem with Imperia is their location in the warehouse district downtown. Unless you want to use the valet parking, there’s a good chance you’ll have to park several blocks away (I found a metered space on Republic Square). But Imperia is well worth the hassle, either for special occasions or if you already live downtown.

    (This review will also appear on The Logbook of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy.)

    Neal Barrett, Jr.: Some Photos

    Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

    With Neal’s passing I thought I would pull out some of the photos I have of him and put them up here. The first couple are from Armadillocon, the rest from his Author Emeritus Award Party on May 30, 2010:

    Neal Barrett, Jr., RIP

    Monday, January 13th, 2014

    Dang. Just heard that Neal Barrett, Jr. has died. One of the great Texas Gonzo writers with an impressive body of work.

    He will be missed.

    Condolences to his widow Ruth, his family and friends.

    Texas 36, Oklahoma 20

    Saturday, October 12th, 2013

    Well, no need to torment myself watching the UT/OU game, I thought. No chance the Longhorns win playing the way they have this year, I thought.

    Texas 36, Oklahoma 20

    The only sure thing about this UT team is that they’ll do the opposite of what I expect them to.

    New defensive coordinator Greg Robinson has completely turned that unit around. And Mack Brown just might keep his job.

    When You’ve lost Earl Campbell…

    Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

    Legendary running back Earl Campbell says that it’s time for Mack Brown to step down.

    “Nobody likes to get fired or leave a job, but things happen,” Campbell said. “I’d go on record and say ‘yes I think it’s time….[it's] very hard because Coach Brown is a very good man,” Campbell said. “I just hope he doesn’t stay…he’s done some great things. The program, he brought it back, and we don’t need it to get run down where somebody has to start all over again.”

    So how many years of grace does winning a National Championship give you? At Auburn, they fired Gene Chizik two years after winning a national championship (which also happened to be their first). That seems more than a little injudicious. Tennessee gave Phil Fulmer ten years after winning a National Championship. (And neither’s successor has set the world on fire.)

    I was not among those calling Mack brown to resign when the team went 5-7 in 2010. Knee-jerk reactions to transient adversity are seldom warranted. But Brown has had several years to right the ship of one of the most institutionally powerful teams in Division 1 football, and has not managed to do so. Ultimately, Alamo and Holiday bowl wins are not enough for a man getting paid $5 million a year.

    Maybe it’s time for a change.