Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Emmer & Rye

In my last post, I talked about how easy it was to dine at Al Fico. My first experience at Emmer & Rye was quite the opposite.

Parking was a hassle. The space was loud and it was difficult to hear. Seven of us spent two hours crammed into a 6-top while a table for two remained empty right next to us the entire time. If I had to choose one word to describe the staff, it would be "hipster." In short, the experience made our group - all aged 40+ - feel positively ancient.

The ordering experience was similarly a bit stressful. Being asked to order off the menu, then being offered dishes off carts while you waited for your food, was a little confusing. I wished that they had a cart menu that you could look at prior to ordering (they call the carts "dim sum," but I refuse to refer to them that way because the items on the carts were basically additional small plate offerings, not Asian dim sum). If you don't have an adventurous palate, you might be inclined to over-order off the menu because you literally have no idea at all what might show up on the carts, and then you don't have room or budget left for cart items.

Emmer & Rye
Cart Server Describing His Wares

All kvetching aside, though, the food was very good. Here's a little peek at some of the dishes I tried.

Cart Offerings:

Potatoes, very delicately sliced and fried so they offered a bit of crispiness at the edges. Served with a combination of creme fraiche & egg yolk. $6

Emmer & Rye
Emmer Johnny Cakes - pork shoulder, Deer Creek cheddar, creme fraiche. 
A little heavy on the salt, but good. $6

Emmer & Rye
Crudité of nuka-fermented squash, radish, carrot, golden beet, chevre $6

Ordered Off The Menu:

Emmer & Rye
I thought this squid dish was pretty and was impressed at how tender the squid was and the wonderful flavor of the broth. However, some of my fellow diners were not fans; they thought the squid was so tender as to taste almost like innards. Either way, at $14 for this very small portion, I would not order it again.

Emmer & Rye
Burrata toast, straciatella, kale, mustard frill, black butter $12. The bread used for this toast was lovely and rustic and the burrata was divine. It looks relatively simple, but this was probably my favorite dish of the meal.

Emmer & Rye
Remember what I said about unadventurous palates? That describes my husband, who opted to play it safe by ordering this 1 lb Berkshire bone-in pork chop with pork fat aioli and winter greens ($34). The pork by itself was quite bland, but if you prepared yourself a bite with the salty, nicely-dressed greens and the aioli, it was quite lovely.

When I reflect on the things I'm willing to do for outstanding food - stand in hours-long lines; travel long distances - I don't think of myself as a particularly lazy diner. But as I reflect upon this meal, I just don't think the food or the experience was sufficiently compelling that I would brave the hassles standing between me and another meal here. Judging by the crowds that were here the evening I went, though, others may very well disagree.

Emmer & Rye

51 Rainey Street, #10
Austin, TX 78701
512) 366-5530


  1. I'm really digging your photography lately, lady. Also, had no idea they had carts! I agree about them calling it dim sum too. I feel like you managed my expectations whenever I have the time/opportunity to try Emmer & Rye. Loved this write up.

    1. Thank you, dear friend! I need a photography coach like you have! Still have a TON to learn about this camera.


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