Texas has always been the land of beef and smoke.
There are many famous barbecue places in Texas and Austin is currently the center of the Texas barbecue universe. But Texans cannot live on barbecue alone. So we decided to put our nice jeans on (it’s still Austin, guys) and headed downtown to Lonesome Dove on a Monday because YOLO.
When we walked in, we were greeted by a very polite hostess. The space was open and clean with beautiful rustic chandeliers. The bar was one long slab of varnished wood that was crafted to retain its natural shape and beauty. As striking as the space was there was one issue. Noise. The starkness of the walls seemed to reverberate and magnify sound and speaking to those across the table was arduous. This didn’t detract from the meal, or the general ambiance but should be noted.
We skipped the the Wild Game Fettine selection because we knew that 6 courses were too many. We did start off with a first course of Blue Corn-Lobster Hushpuppies, Elk-Foie Gras Sliders with Blueberry Jam and Rabbit-Rattlesnake Sausage, Manchego Rosti and Crème Fraîche (not pictured). The Hushpuppies were the biggest surprise. It was the most delicate hushpuppy I’ve ever eaten. It was soft and delicate and the flavors were perfectly balanced. The Elk-Foie Gras Sliders were not the least bit gamey. The blueberry jam complemented its unique flavor beautifully. A pinch more salt and it would have been perfect. Finally, we had the Rabbit-Rattlesnake Sausage and it was succulent and the casing had a wonderful snap to it when bitten. The first course was a fantastic introduction to the next courses.
Not surprisingly, my second course was the most disappointing. It was still delicious, but half a head of lettuce with dressing a pepitas is a little lackluster. The pickled jalapeño was mindblowingly good! Sweet and hot and salty all at one time. My dinner partners got a Bowl of Texas Red and Summer Squash Soup with Shaved Grana Padano. The chili was meaty and earthy and everything Texas chili should be meaning NO BEANS! The Summer Squash Soup was bright and sunny and with a perfect creamy texture. Now on to the next course!
I’ll never again be able to eat rabbit, beef, rattlesnake and elk in one sitting.
This was my favorite course of the meal! The oatmeal was creamy and chewy and was perfectly paired with the game hen. Atop the hen was a sweet pepper relish, marmalade is a bit misleading. Others at my table had the Roasted Garlic Stuffed Beef Tenderloin, Western Plaid Hash and Grilled Asparagus; Rabbit Tenderloin and Confit Leg, Shepherd’s Pie and Morel Rings and Wagyu Sirloin, Porcini Fries with Hollandaise. Both beef entrées were delicious because well marbled beef is always like sex on a plate. The absolute best dish in this course was the Rabbit Tenderloin and Confit. The rabbit was prepared in a way that accentuated its natural sweetness. Words cannot describe how delicious the rabbit was.
I know the angle of this picture looks like drunk Cookie Monster after an all-night bender, but this is really Chef Tim Love’s interpretation of a banana cream pie. This was good, but not great. There was a bit of undissolved sugar in the pie that gave the pie an unpleasant grainy texture. The caramelized bananas were delicious as was the burnt marshmallow. We also sampled Love’s Iron Chef winning Ancho Chile Chocolate Cake. The ancho was pleasant, but the chocolate was very bitter. The desserts were good, but it was definitely not the best course of the evening.
While my review is a bit of a nitpick, this was the best meal I’ve ever had in Austin and easily the top five I’ve ever eaten. The menu is creative and is so much fun! It’s my hope that Lonesome Dove is here to stay and Austinites will embrace this Dallas chef as one of our own.