The day after Christmas is usually devoid of any food activity. After eating my way through the holidays, it is usually on this day that I vow to “eat better” or some other kind of nonsense. Unfortunately, this thinking was short lived as the @tastingbuds twitter stream was flooded with tweets about opening night at Second Bar + Kitchen(Link to Menu), David Bull’s latest creation.
I should mention that the 26th is my wife’s birthday, so her request was drinks and appetizers as opposed to a full on meal. As we took our seats at the bar, and I noticed the large wooden mallet that one of the bartenders was using to demolish ice cubes for a drink that he was mixing up. Naturally, I asked what he was mixing up. The drink, pictured below, consisted of a large quantity of gin, topped with a spoon of house-made orange marmalade. The history of the drink, as told to us by the bartender was that in the 1800’s in London, there was a large quantity of “bathtub” gin being consumed that was more ethanol like in flavor, than gin. In an effort to make the drink more palatable, people would mix in a small quantity of marmalade in order to mask the off flavors of the rotgut gin. The drink was simple, yet amazing. As the ice melted and the marmalade really mixed with the gin, the flavors of the orange and spices really came through. If you only order one drink, order this one.
Drinks in hand, we began to peruse the menu. The truffle pommes frites were a must. Perfectly fried fries with a truffle “dipping sauce” made my short list for the best fries in Austin.
The Avocado Fundido was next on the list. It came with some house-made strips that were delicious all by themselves. The warm avocado and cheese mixture was perfectly spiced and packed enough heat to make you want more.
The other small plate that we had was the Oxtail, Burrata and Brioche. This was an unusual dish that I would highly recommend if you are in the mood for something different. The burrata cheese is nestled in a small bowl of braised oxtail. The rich flavor of the braised oxtail, coupled with the smooth texture of the cheese and the slight sweetness of the brioche all went perfectly together.
Overall, Second Bar + Kitchen (Link to Menu) has amazing appetizers, drinks, service, and ambiance that will quickly make it an Austin institution. Can’t wait to go back and work my way through the larger plates!