Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Apis Restaurant and Apiary

I think this town must be conspiring to convince me that we've not yet reached the pinnacle of our food scene, because I just discovered what is undoubtedly one of my top ten favorite restaurants in Austin.

Okay, so technically it's in Spicewood - which makes it an even more surprising find. Who would have imagined that you might sit down to a 23-course signature tasting menu* just down the road from Opie's? We might not have believed it ourselves, except that our friends Mari & Greg, who have eaten at many of the finest restaurants all over the world, raved about a meal they had there back in August. So the four of us headed out to Apis Restaurant and Apiary to celebrate Mari's birthday, and proceeded to have our socks blown off.

As much as I want to slip into my usual uber-verbose mode, I can't possibly write about every one of the 23 courses...but I do want to share all of the splendor for you food porn fans, so I've included a slideshow of our feast.


Excellent cocktails, beautiful and comfortable surroundings, and affable service round out the deal and truly make Apis a dining destination. We hear that the team is looking for space downtown for a second location (and a different concept), but I was hard pressed to think of many ways that they could improve upon this version. As we were driving home, my husband remarked that he had actually enjoyed the meal we'd just had at Apis better than the one we had at The French Laundry last month (the French Laundry meal, by the way, was three times as expensive). I'm going to weasel out of making my own comparison by saying the two experiences are really too different to compare, but I think that my husband's comment appropriately underscores the fact that the Apis experience is one not to be missed. This was indeed a spectacular meal - and an astounding value considering the quality, quantity, and the effort that went into creating it.

Another thing we truly loved about Apis is that the entire staff exhibited an apparent lack of ego, resulting in a very friendly, collaborative atmosphere. Unlike certain other highly-touted restaurants in town where the chefs insist that every dish be served their way (diner preferences be damned), Apis' message was consistently, "What do you think? How can we make this experience better for you?" When we were in the kitchen for the cocktail course, Chef/Owner Taylor Hall repeatedly deflected compliments to the rest of his team in the kitchen, and several of our courses were served by the restaurant's general manager, Bill Donnelly, who had a terrific sense of humor. Too much ego in a restaurant can taste a little bitter; on the flip side, the collaborative attitude at Apis made us feel like we were participating in the process, that the success of our dining experience lay partly in our hands. We were utterly charmed, and we are so looking forward to seeing what exciting surprises this creative and friendly team has in store for us down the road.

23426 TX-71
Spicewood, TX 78669
512/436-8918

*Apis also offers a regular a la carte menu for those who aren't quite ready to commit to 23 courses!

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Prelog's

I'll admit it: my palate has gotten a little spoiled. There are so many restaurants in Austin now that reliably serve up food I love that I sometimes feel a little reticent about trying new places - will it live up to expectations, or will I be sorry I veered from tried and true?

But I had heard quite a bit of buzz about Prelog's, so when they invited me out to sample their food, I jumped at the chance. Happily, they gave my skeptical palate something to sing about.

We went in for brunch on a Saturday, and opted to try their "tasting menu" brunch - two courses for $20 or three courses for $25. I started with the Eggs Royale, an aptly-named Eggs Benedict-ish concoction with a soft poached egg, smoked salmon, hollandaise sauce, and caviar sour cream (!!) served atop an English muffin. It was absolutely outstanding; every component was beautifully executed, and the briny caviar elevated this lovely dish to memorable.

Prelogs Eggs Royale


My husband started with an omelette. While it was admittedly a nice specimen of omelette, I'm not much of an omelette girl and I was way too focused on my Eggs Royale to pay much attention to it. 

Prelogs Omelette

I found my husband's second course, fish & chips, far more charming. Truly some of the best fish & chips I have encountered; it was light and flaky and avoided the greasiness that plagues so many plates of fish & chips.

Prelogs Fish & Chips

Luckily for my husband, my second course was also a show-stopper. It featured a beautiful piece of pork belly that had been cooked by sous vide, then the skin was wonderfully crisped. Absolutely heavenly.

Prelogs Pork Belly

We decided to order just a single third course, so we opted for the scone with clotted cream. It's hard to go wrong with clotted cream, and we made short work of this beautiful dish.

Prelogs Scone w Clotted Cream

We were very impressed with our first meal at Prelog's; before it was over, I was excitedly texting friends, telling them we needed to come back together. I'm very much looking forward to experiencing their lunch and dinner service, not to mention their Sunday brunch buffet, which sounds equal parts dangerous and legendary. Big thanks to the very gracious Chef Flo and his team for a wonderful meal - we can't wait to see you again!

Prelog's
360 Nueces Street
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 350-2895

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