Category Archives: Restaurant Review

The Best Damn Cookies in Austin

Well poppets, I’ve been trying to update my blog for quite some time but alas, the Internet Gods were not gracing me with their love the past few weeks. I’ve been dying to put up this post since it’s about one of my new favorite places in Austin: Epicerie Cafe & Grocery.

Photo from Austin Business Journal
Photo from Austin Business Journal

So, even though I’ve been there twice now, I’ve had exactly the same thing both times because I lurve this one dish so much. I get the Tri-Tip Steak with Frites and Aioli and Brussels Sprouts. Having spent time in California, I’m a huge fan of the tri-tip cut. It’s what they use for their version of Santa Maria Style BBQ. Yummy, yummy – makes me want Hitching Post II so bad!

Back to Epicerie, oui, oui. Gosh, everything about this place is just charming. It’s clean and bright and simple yet cozy with warm light, gentle music and friendly staff. I tried the cheese plate and beet salad too, both good and satisfying but that steak, woo hoo, is excellent and delicious at medium rare. Plus, the fries with aioli should be its own food group or an IV drip.

My only small complaint is the wine. They have bottles for sale and I’m not even going to pretend that I know anything about what they have on their shelves. That being said, I couldn’t get much help from anyone on guiding me to make a good decision  The first time I went I ordered a glass of wine and it was the equivalent of doing 2-3 shots?  Of wine? I held it up to my friend who looked completely confused. For $8 a pop it was a bit much for us. Once again, not bad, but to me, could be better.

From Epicerie's Facebook - best damn cookies ever!
From Epicerie’s Facebook – best damn cookies ever!

Finally, on to the cookies. Sweet day in the morn. These cookies are FILLED TO THE BRIM with chocolate chips. Seriously, it’s mostly like eating chocolate chips held together ever so carefully by salty, sweet dough. It takes everything in my power to have just one, and these are big cookies to begin with. Please don’t go buy any, please? :)

I have to say my love for this place has gone from crush to full on love. Go check out, you will not be disappointed.

My New Amigo Contigo

There are moments, and they are rare, that you leave a restaurant just knowing it’s going to become a part of your regular rotation. Contigo is now one of them…I’ve been there twice in three weeks!

Located off of Airport and 38th/Anchor Lane on the East side this place has that rare mix of delicious food, great drinks, tentative and kind staff and terrific ambience. Let’s walk through and unpeel each layer shall we?

The Food

It was all delicious. Their burger actually has received recognition a few times over as one of the top in the Austin, so we of course just HAD to get it. It did not dissapoint. The patty was moist and juicy, with crisp bacon, lettuce, juicy tomato and perfect, and I mean perfect, Challah bun. The only complaint was it was a skosh on the salty side, but overall, it was very impressive.

We also had the popcorn (cinnamon, peanuts and cayenne); Pigs in a Blanket with Dijon mustard; Shisito Peppers with Sesame dipping sauce and the House Pickles with watermelon rind, sweet potato and jicama; fried chicken (their Thursday special!); Crispy Green Beans, and Summer Squash and Eggplant.  All of it was great, the only miss for me were the pickles. I know it’s hard to find that just right balance and to me it was way too vinegary (sure that’s a word).

The Drinks

I’m highlighting drinks here for one main reason. When I was pregnant with Lila, I got on a huge kick to find the best mocktails in the city and I’m still working on it even when I’m not expecting. I plan on doing a bigger round up for all of you mommas out there, but Contigo hands down made one of the best ones I’ve ever had. The bartender (who as so nice!) made a blueberry concontion with basil syrup and soda water. It was absolutely delicious!

I could tell Contigo was much more of a cocktail place when I scanned the menu and saw they only had two white, two rose and two red options. While I appreciate a simple wine menu, this seemed to be a little skimpy for my liking. I had a glass of The Curator from South Africa (a shiraz/mouvedre blend) since I’m more of a big and bold wine girl. It was a great glass of wine, but once again, I wish I had just a few more options to choose from.

The Staff

It’s also unusual for me to make a big deal about the staff, but, they were so nice and attentive I just had to highlight. From the moment we walked in from the pouring rain and were greeted by the awesome hostesses to the fun and laid back bartender; everyone was just delightful and accommodating. As we were leaving the hostess said, “I really hope we get to see you again,” I turned around and sad, “Oh you will!” and then she goes, quite sincerely, “that makes me so happy!” What a LAMB!

And just a I was putting the finishing touches on this post, check out what poodles they really are!

The Ambience

So we arrived during a torrential downpour here in Austin. This city hasn’t seen rain in a while, so needless to say it was a little chaotic, but the staff handled it with grace. Contigo is all open-air seating with a huge outside patio. From the pictures provided on their website it looks so gentle huh? Everything about it is relaxing and easygoing and makes you feel like you are at home. Jeez, I wish I had a patio that looked like that. Right? I loved all the twinkling lights and openness of the space. You could tell they tried hard to make it inviting but didn’t overdo it if you know what I mean.

If you haven’t been to Contigo I would highly recommend as a place to go with your kids and sip a glass of wine, or a fun girls/guys night out or just a laid back dinner for two. It’s kind of perfect in every way.


Dock & Roll

Last week I was craving the oddest thing – a delicious lobster roll. Could I seriously crave anything more costly? Well, I could actually, but wow, lobster rolls are not cheap. Thankfully, David is from the East Coast and when I exclaimed my hankering, he was totally in. We thought we would give Dock & Roll a try having driven by it so many times and promising that one day we would stop. Well we did, and it’s good, damn good.

David got the Maine Event (lobster meat served chilled with Dock & Roll‘s special house mayo, old bay lemon butter, and chive on a freshly baked roll) and I got the Long Island (celery and onion added to the Maine Event – this girl has to have crunch) plus Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese (because why wouldn’t you?) and tater tots (once again, why wouldn’t you?). We brought them home and I snarfed mine in about eight minutes and this is a good size lobster roll y’all. Everything was absolutely delicious. That mac ‘n’ cheese was so good I’m glad we didn’t have a bigger serving because we would have just kept eating and eating and eating. Even the tater tots were delicious. The only complaint, and this is coming from my aforementioned East Coast husband, but they didn’t serve it on a split top roll. Now, no one in the city serves lobster rolls on a split top roll, and, you can’t get them anywhere here. When David goes to Central Market or Whole Foods Market, he will ask the bakery if they have split top rolls and every time he gets a no and sad face. David shakes his fist in the air and makes his own sad face. I guess it’s kind of a big deal actually because when he mentions it to other East Coast friends the complaints are strong and loud. Maybe this is the equivalent of not having decent Tex-Mex on the West Coast? I felt that way when I lived in Los Angeles!

One final note was the price. For two lobster rolls, tater tots and the mac ‘n’ cheese it was $37.00. To put that into perspective, there is another lobster roll in the city that is $28.00 and not as big as this one. It’s a good bang for your buck considering you are eating delicious and decadent lobster.

Get thee to Dock & Roll today!



Josephine House

I’ve been talking to my friend Kari about trying Josephine House and lo and behold the day we decided to go it was touted as one of the best restaurants in America along with its big sister restaurant Jeffrey’s in Bon Appetit magazine. “Great,” I thought in my head, “now it’s going to be swimming with people.”

But alas, when we got there for happy hour it was filled with a few ladies, but wasn’t too bad.  Close your eyes however and think for a moment about “ladies who lunch” and that’s exactly type of clientele that was there. If you know me at all, I’m really not that type, so I felt a little bit out of place from the get go. We quickly scurried to a spot outside by the fireplace (that’s got to be THE spot during the fall let me tell you) and asked about the Happy Hour specials. So, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting huge discounts but still,  it was $2 off drinks and 25% off food. I remember giving Kari this look when our very nice waiter mentioned the specials and thinking, “so your $15 glass of overpriced wine is now $12? What a deal!” Trying to not get too snarky, we glanced over the menu and ordered a spinach salad with peaches, these awesome deep fried rice cakes called calas, the Nicoise Salad and Ratatouille Empanadas.

Let me be clear here that I owned a food company so I know it’s painful when someone reviews your food in a negative light, but I’m most certainly not trying to be negative because I did think the food was good, not knock your socks off great, but good. I think the other issue was that I was walking in with high expectations with “the best restaurant in the U.S.” blitz, and the prices for the size of plates you are getting felt, well, a little like a very ritzy, overpriced place in Dallas. Two bright stars were the calas and empanadas. Whoever did that dough for the emapadas needs a medal or award or something as I thought it was perfect.

The other great thing about Josephine House is that place is downright impeccable. Every detail is pitch perfect and no stone is left unturned. From the thick, expensive feeling, personally imprinted napkins in the bathroom, perfectly chilled white wine, awesome and perfectly balanced Paloma, to the unfussy and effortless service –  everything about the look and feel was phenomenal. Like I said, the food was good, but I think it just wasn’t up to par with the impeccable surroundings, service and drinks. We will definitely go back in the fall, sit by the amazing fire place and give her another try!



Every once in a while, a restaurant comes along that’s just magic. From the decor to the staff to the food, everything is pitch perfect, and our experience at Lenoir was just that – magic. I had been wanting to eat here since it opened but had never had the chance and then, some little magazine called Bon Appetit named it one of the top restaurants in the country making it even harder to get in.

So, we made a reservation a month in advance to celebrate the end of my second trimester (we are almost through our third – so yes, this post has been a long time coming!) and finally got to go. The Pie Society team worked down the street from what this restaurant used to be, an old run down house that was in need of a serious facelift. I remember walking by and viewing the progress thinking “what a charming little place that’s going to be” and oh my goodness, it is. The restauarant is well, the size of small house and I believe you are eating in the old living room/dining room. The entire room is painted black which you think would make it feel even smaller but actually, it just makes it feel comfy and cozy. I loved the bar area which was bright white against the dark black with weathered woods and Alice in Wonderland styled signs and decor. The whole place actually has a whole Alice in Wonderland style whimsy and charm to it.

Now to the even better part, the food! Also with a touch of whimsy to it but with seriously balanced, tickle your tastebuds flavor. The menu is unique in that you can get three courses for $35.00 and an extra course for $10.00. You have a choice between Field, Sea, Land and Dream. We couldn’t decide at all so just went hog wild; you’re shocked I’m sure.

We chose Cucumber and Tomato Salad with sorrel, gribiche and whole wheat flatbread from Field; Toasted shrimp ravioli with okra, shisito peppers and tasso sauce and poha-crusted fish with butternut dashi broth, seaweed salad and corn from Sea; Crispy Rabbit Terrine with butternut, arugula and pickled pear salad and Red Curry Goat with watermelon, goat feta and crepe from Land; and finally, Honeyed Figs, ginger ice cream, toasted marshmallow, malted chocolate crumble and Johnny Cake, butternut puree, fresh corn and honey and shaved Italian piave from Dream.  Hungry yet?

Everything was amazingly good and as I mentioned earlier – perfectly balanced. It’s funny you don’t really hear that remark very much but when something is cooked so well and to perfection, you notice and it helps you appreciate the locally-sourced ingredients that much more. There was nothing fussy or overdone about them, just straight up flavor that knocked a power punch with each round. Our favorites had to be the terrine and the goat but everything, I repeat everything, was so delicious I’m still thinking about it almost two months later.

Finally, the staff and service were pitch perfect. They were attentive without being overbearing and answered all of our questions and had great recommendations. I hope Lenoir is one of those Austin restaurants that is with us for eternity – it’s that good.



Love.Drink.Well. Kobe Burger. Happiness. Homemade Twinkie. Bliss.

Our friends Kari and Mike have been talking about Drink.Well up on North Loop for quite some time and their really good Kobe Beef Burger. So, for Sunday family dinner we decided to treat ourselves and give it a try. Holy kobe burger, I love this place.

In an unassuming building just off North Loop, right down from a house that has a guillotine in front of it (don’t let this deter you, but only in Austin right?) is Drink.Well. A dimly lit, we were told former realtor company building, that’s snuggle tastic. The decor is modern with whimsical touches throughout such as wheels welded to steel poles to create a very unique place to set your drink, plus fun, local art along the wall and Uno cards as “numbers” for the staff to deliver your food to the table. Like a typical pub, you order drinks and food at the counter. We were here on a a lazy, rainy Sunday but I would want to see it on a weekend night, as I’m sure the line could get pretty long? Not sure, but will gladly go back and investigate if I can get all of their food again.

We started with House-Cut Potato Chips & Dips which are thin and crispy Kennebec potatoes, with a choice of dips which we chose Onion & Summer Herb (smoky), Warm White Bean Pesto (savory). I could eat both of those dips off a an old shoe. Since I’ve been pregnant I’ve been doing the typical cravings like a mad woman and one of mine is hot wings (the other is spaghetti and meatballs and milk. Not together mind you.). The wings are crispy good and we got them smothered in the buffalo hot sauce which was just hot enough and a great little chicken wing if I do say so myself.

Now. to the main event, the Kobe Burger. Woo child, this was good. Straight from their menu:

TEXAS KOBE BURGER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 .50

Akaushi beef burger, cooked to order* with cheddar, roma tomato, house-made pickles, lettuce and smoked onion marmalade. With house-cut potato chips or side salad.

Go Half-Hog (Add bacon OR pulled pork): Add $1.50
Go Whole-Hog (Add bacon AND pulled pork): Add $2.50

Other add-ons (Fried Egg or Avocado): Add $1 each

The one thing I should have done? Add a fried egg. Dangit! Oh well, I will next time. The burger was cooked perfectly and mixed with the onion marmalade and cheddar, it was almost a perfect burger. Right now it’s a 9.5 but maybe with the fried egg I’ll give it a 10. Either way, you have to give it a try.

Finally, because sweets are also on heavy rotation right now I ordered a house made Twinkie that had a strawberry creme filling in the middle. YUM! I knew I should have ordered two just for my piglet self.

I love the neighborhood feel of this place along with the whimsical touches, excellent staff and great pub food.  Let’s just say it’s always a good time to Drink (and Eat) Well at Drink.Well.!


You know you always have that one place that if you can’t think of where to go or just want to pop in for a quick snack and glass of wine, you go there? That’s Mulberry for David and me. We happened upon it one night when looking for a place to go and the moment I walked in I knew I was going to love it. It’s a small place with an excellent patio outside and cozy little nooks and crannies to get close to your loved one on the inside with a very unique horseshoe shaped bar that almost expands around the entire room. Plus, they have an excellent vino selection that is affordable and interesting without being too off-center or dare I say it, snooty. Oh, get the Justin Cabernet for me if you can!

Most importantly? The food! Every time we go there the food is consistently good. I can’t recall everything we’ve had there but some mainstays when we go are the Cuban Sandwich; Meatballs; Devils on Horseback and the FoieBerry Burger. Why this little beauty isn’t being raved about more I don’t know because it’s a perfect small bite of burger. Two buttery buns, ground beef and foie gras with a berry style compote smothered on top…perfection. Now, I will always say our pies are the best anywhere hands down (shameless, shameless BUT they make a darn good Chocolate Hazelnut Pie and given that sweets are my middle name these days, it’s an awesome end to a meal.

We also just went there for brunch and I had the Eggs Benedict which wasn’t the same old, same old dish you get over and over again somewhere else but a delicious egg with perfect hollandaise sauce, tomatoes and spinach all on top of a crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside Ciabatta roll. It’s the little differences and upgrades they do that make this place one of our favorites. If you are visiting or live here in Austin, give them a try:


Elizabeth Street Cafe

On Saturday, we had a few hours to kill before a friend’s birthday party and finally had the chance to nom, nom, nom some killer Bahn Mi at Austin’s new French Vietnemese restaurant Elizabeth Street Cafe. Founded by Chef Larry McGuire who is slowly taking over Austin’s food scene one restaurant at a time (seriously, the guy has Lambert’s; Perla’s; Jeffrey’s and a new restaurant concept, Fresas opening next year). You can definitely tell this has Larry and Liz Lambert’s, what is now, signature touches to it. The curved seating, clean, bright colors, and a blend of Austin funkiness – mismatched wood chairs, eclectic artwork –  to round it out.

Now let’s get to the food. The French influence on Vietnemese food is evident in one item: the Bahn Mi. A French baguette stuffed with the flavors of Vietnam – cucumber, cilantro, carrots, jalapeño,  daikon, fish sauce and yummy pork or pate. We started with the Niman Ranch Pork Belly Steamed Buns with cucumber, scallion and hoisin sauce. Ohh, delightfully good. The buns were steamed to that just perfect pillow-soft texture and with the delicious juicy, soft pork belly it was an A+ bite of food. Exellent way to start the meal Chef McGuire.


We saw a lot of things we wanted to try on the menu but we knew our first visit to the restaurant would have to be all about the Bahn Mi. David ordered the House Specialty of Chicken Liver Mousse, Pork Pâté, Roasted Pork and I got the marinated pork. I’ve made my own Bahn Mi at home and had some at eateries here and there, but this by far was my favorite. The baguette was crispy outside (without crumbs falling all over the place), chewy on the inside with some super fresh and crunchy daikon, cucumber, carrot, jalapeño and topped with cilantro, sambal and mayonnaise with the perfectly marinated pork. In fact, they were so good, we ordered a third one to split! The housemade spicy pork meatball to be exact and yes, we snorted it. Total fat kids I know, but completely worth it.

To finish out our meal I had to get what’s being deemed as the new cupcake (honestly, I really don’t think anything is going to be the new cupcake), the canelle.  Given the fantastic house made bread (seriously, amazing stuff) I was super excited about the canelle and it had a nice moist interior with a crunchy caramel crust – it was a perfect sweet bite to end our meal. I’m happy that (a) I work down the street from this place (b) that our home is right not too far either since it’s a perfect grab-and-go restaurant for a quick Vietnamese coffee and pastry or a nice little spot to sit down and eat 85 Bahn Mi. :)



Niman Ranch Pork Belly Steamed Buns
Marinated Pork Bahn MI
Marinated Pork Bahn Mi





I Heart Tomo Dachi

WhenI lived in Los Angeles I loved the multitude of sushi joints in the city. From the fancy schmancy places like Nobu to the beloved and even more popular ones in the strip malls across the Valley, where I called home. The most popular one was Katsu-ya tucked in a corner in little strip mall off Ventura Blvd, but I liked another even more unassuming sushi place just down the street in an even tinier strip mall called Asanebo. You walked in and always felt like family and the sushi, goodness the sushi was incredible no matter what you ordered.

When I left Los Angeles for Austin I wasn’t upset about the move much, except for my sushi and shabu shabu loss. Don’t get me wrong Austin has amazing sushi choices. Uchi anyone? But I knew I was going to miss the family feel, service and sushi that didn’t cost an arm and a leg if you were craving it. Leave it to my friend Kari who has been going to, wait for it, a sushi place in a little strip mall off of Parmer Lane up in North Austin called Tomo Dachi. Bit of a drive? Sure. Is this new my new family sushi joint that I totally love? Bet your bottom dollar.

Steve, Owner of Tomo Dachi (Photos from Tomo Dachi)

You walk in, especially with Kari because they lurve her (who doesn’t?), and cozy up right up to the sushi bar. Check out their specials and ask Sushi Chef Steve Riad (the owner) or any of the other excellent sushi chefs behind the bar what’s good, they will never let you down. I love this place, Steve and his wife Tina Son (head maitre’d and responsible for the awesome decor) take such amazing care of you and the food is amazing. Always get as many specials as you can, but some items off of the menu you can’t miss are Cherry Bomb, Screaming Orgasm, Fatty Tuna done Steve’s Way which means slightly torched, and the sushi sampler done roulette style.  As you know sashimi and the rice it sits on are typically held together with a light paste of spicy wasabi. Roulette style loads on a big piece of wasabi instead but you can’t tell until you put it in your mouth. The burn is mild and fades quickly, but there is something so funny about watching your friends to see if they’ve been “hit” or not. One time all three of my friends got hit and I didn’t. Bahahahaha. Also, be sure to ask for their cucumber sake or if they have it, watermelon-infused sake. I’m warning you now, you will drink this like candy so be careful!

If you are looking for a great sushi experience, a comfortable and totally fun environment get thee to Tomo Dachi immediately. I can gaurantee you will probably find us there any given weekend giggling at someone who has been hit with a wallop of wasabi.

Tomo Dachi location and logo - I want a t-shirt! (Photos from Tomo Dachi)


Yesterday, the ladies and I had a super fun girl’s day. First was a trip to Petticoat Fair, which ladies of Austin,  if you haven’t been I highly suggest you get thee to the shop immediately. I don’t think I’ll ever buy foundation garments anywhere else after visiting this store. After hours of looking through knickers and brazziers, we had worked up quite an appetite and I suggested we visit the newly opened Haddington’s. I’m a super fan of Chef Northcutt’s Mulberry restaurant just across from Austin Music Hall. The Foieberry Burger and Bahn Mi are worth the trip and the wine list is awesome (get the Justin Cabernet Sauvignon).

Petticoat Fair

Haddington’s is a British-American gastropub featuring things like Fish and Chips (or Frips as they call them); Foie Gras Sausage; Pork Chops; Whole Branzino; a Turkey Sandwich with cranberry relish and stuffing on cornbread – Thanksgiving on a sandwich; and so much more. We decided to order all four of what’s called Toast Pots.  These are little pots of gooey goodness including: white bean and garlic; egg custard with truffles; rabbit rillet; and duck liver.  You schmear the delicious spreads over crispy toasts and then your eyes roll back in your head. These were all amazing in their own way and at $3 a pop with unlimited toasts it was a cost-effective start to our meal. I think the egg custard combined with the duck liver was my favorite.

They were out of pork shank but decided to replace it with a pork belly option. Well, twist my arm Haddington’s. They rolled the belly with tyhme and other herbs and then served with a mirepoix sauce and roasted carrots. At $24 to serve four people, it was certainly a good deal though. For sides we had mashed swede and Gorgonzola cheese…I’m bowing down to whoever created this side. It was AWESOME. We also got crispy potatoes which are basically long, crispy potato wedges.

We are all wine drinkers so we really didn’t peruse the beer list, but the wine list was confusing and a wee off-putting. I love good wine lists. I even appreciate wine lists that challenge me, but this was sporadic, very French-heavy and waaaaay out of price range for a gastropub. Austin has a lot of great wine lists and I think Haddington’s might want to rethink their wine options for their gentle wine-drinking clientele who are eating, albeit higher-end-than-normal, pub grub. We ordered some cost effective wines including the Cartlidge & Browne and Lucas & Lewellen. Also, the cocktails looked insanely good and I might fit one in next time. There’s one with duck fat in it…wow!

The decor is pubish with a modern but comfortable vibe. It’s also pretty neat as the restaurant is maze-like and filled with room, upon room, upon room; pubish indeed. We sat in The Picture Room and it was very hard to hear our table of four, especially when they moved in a table of 12 right next to us. I liked the ambiance but even for me it was a little dark,  We found ourselves huddled around candlelight snarking at the wine list and oogling at the food.

We plan to go back to Haddington’s a few more times since it was our first impression, but overall it was a great first experience. Until then, as their door says on the way out, Many Happy Returns.

Toast Pots
My One Potato Wedge
Rolled Pork Belly with the Cracktastic Mashed Swede