Barley Swine: Offering Oink, Beer + More to Austin

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Restaurant Sign Austin

Bryce Gilmore took a big leap from his Odd Duck trailer to full-throttle Barley Swine.

The Decemberists concert let out at Stubb’s and even though we already made five food stops earlier in the day, the heat and the humidity somehow managed to reignite some semblance of hunger. My brother and I made a mad dash to reach South Lamar for Barley Swine, the first restaurant from celebrated Odd Duck chef-owner Bryce Gilmore. With a name that suggested a commitment to beer and pork, and given the fact that Food & Wine had just named Gilmore one of their Best New Chefs, hopes were high on the drive south.

Barley Swine opened at the end of 2010 in a former pie shop, right down Lamar Boulevard from Odd Duck. The casual, contemporary space featured wood flooring, faux stone walls, an open kitchen with only eight stools and the base of the bar crafted from old doors. Just like the shelf in my apartment, Barley Swine’s taps hosted a chanchito, a three-legged clay pigurine [pig figurine] that brings good luck from Chile. My chanchito goes by Tripod, but I digress.

Our server, Carla, was a friendly gardener who hails from Western Massachusetts and previously worked on South Congress at Perla’s. She directed us to some interesting dishes and also pointed out the miniature chef’s coat on the wall that commemorated Gilmore’s F&W award.

We received a complementary dish of meaty, marinated Castelvetrano olives, then we continued to the menu, where Gilmore and sous chef Sam Hellman-Mass apparently swap out two or three dishes per week. My brother and I started in earnest with an order of fried Fried Brussels Sprouts ($5), with crisp-leaved cuts dressed with tangy capers and lemon juice.

Salad Austin

Grilled Squash ($8) slabs were the focus of a well-balanced salad that also combined bits of salty house-cured pancetta, lemon vinaigrette, tangy Calabria goat cheese and spicy mustard greens.

Crepe Austin

My brother made an uncharacteristic selection, a Crab Pancake ($11) that paid dividends. The crepe-like dish incorporated different textures and flavors: firm Texas rice, tangy Chevre, soft scrambled egg sauce and spongy morel mushrooms.

Charcuterie Austin

My favorite dish was also the most indulgent, a char-grilled rabbit terrine ($11) dressed with bacon liver mousse, sweet onion, crispy radishes and scattered arugula leaves. Generally, arugula helps to rein in richness, but that wasn’t close to possible in this case.

Beer Float Austin

Pastry Chef Kyle McKinney, wearing a blue shirt and mohawk, made sure that at least one dessert lived up to the restaurant’s name. His small Real Ale Porter float ($4) featured locally brewed beer and a scoop of malted barley ice cream, balancing bitter and sweet flavors.

Dessert Austin

A shiny hazelnut chocolate crunch ($7) square starred rich chocolate mousse and recruited honey nut crunch and a sea salt-accented caramel pudding smear to span the plate.

Our Barley Swine experience was a good one, but the restaurant isn’t really ideally suited for a duo, since the menu features many more enticing options, and we barely managed to make a dent.

Barley Swine: Offering Oink, Beer + More to Austin


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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