Last week, fellow Tasting Bud Peter and I attended a small gathering at the recently open Haddingtons (Link to Menu), new restaurant in downtown Austin. Prior to the event, I looked at the restaurant website, which described it as “an American tavern with rustic cuisine”, bringing to mind hearty, season-inspired meals and a beer selection rivaling the best pubs in town. They had not yet posted a menu (see full menu below), so I was excited to see what Chef Zack Northcutt had created.
The tasting began with a sampling of farmhouse cheeses and pickled vegetables, including cauliflower, green beans, red bell pepper and carrots. As we waited for our drinks, I perused the tasting menu and was very pleased to see foie gras utilized several times.
The next wave of samples included crostini topped with taste size versions of full menu items. The duck liver mousse was creamy, smooth and had a nice flavor complimented by golden raisin. I was thoroughly enjoying the rabbit rillette with whisky cherries, until I bit into a small bone. These things happen, though, and the rillette was very tasty.
Foie Link at Haddingtons
Up next was a couple of pub inspired treats. The scotch eggs – pickled quail eggs in sausage – were fantastic and will pair well with one of the good English ales on the bar menu. My favorite dish of the night however, was the foie link – a house made sausage comprised of foie gras and pork, served with pear relish. The flavors of the foie gras and the pork were complementary, and the texture was creamy, but not too soft or pulpy. I will come back for this menu item!
While we waited for each wave of samples to emerge, I had a chance to look at the bar menu. Bill Norris, formerly of FINO, did not disappoint with his selection of beer, wine, and spirits. He also created an interesting cocktail menu, which includes original house and classic cocktails. At the media opening, we decided to skip the beer and tried a couple of these drinks.
Duck Fat infused whiskey with absinthe
The Duck Fat Sazerac is Norris’s take on the classic cocktail from New Orleans, with duck fat infused rye whiskey, Peychaud’s bitters, and an absinthe rinse. Wait. Did I just say duck fat infused whiskey? Yes I did. The flavor was subtle, almost delicate, and the absinthe rinse – basically coating the glass with absinthe before pouring it out – gave it just a hint of herbal notes. This drink is definitely a winner.
The Moscow Mule is another classic cocktail, and Haddingtons uses house made ginger beer. This cocktail was just ok. I appreciated the large lime wedge, which allowed each of us to slightly change the flavor to our liking. However, the ginger beer left me unimpressed – it tasted a little flat and was lacking in ginger.
Haddington’s (Link to Menu) is located on West 6th St and is open for lunch and dinner. I can see it becoming a go-to lunch (or happy hour) spot for the downtown Austin workforce, as well as a destination for anyone looking for dinner and drinks. Overall, we had a great experience and will definitely be back to try the pork shoulder roast, which according to Peter is “very large and fall-off-the-bone tasty.”