This week, Austin food critics ate high-end classics downtown and newfangled Thai takes out in the 'burbs.
At the Austin American-Statesman, Matthew Odam reviews TRIO, the Four Seasons restaurant which recently transferred Canadian chef Grant Macdonald from their Vancouver hotel after the departure of Todd Duplechan, who left to open South First's highly praised Lenoir. Odam felt like the "king of the castle" at TRIO, lauding the expert service overall and attention to detail from sommelier Mark Sayre. Food-wise, Odam loved the Malpeque oysters and the seared scallops, which "melted at first bite," while a "gelatinous 'pig and pinot' terrine" came with a "brilliant egg-studded grabiche." Odam's only complaint was with a cod special, "overwhelmed by its thick black olive sauce." He rates TRIO high, no surprise: 8.5 out of 10.
Melanie Haupt reviews SPIN Modern Thai for the Austin Chronicle, finding herself well less impressed than Matthew Odam, who awarded the restaurant a 9 out of 10 (higher than TRIO!) back in August. She committed "a bit of a blunder" by getting take-out at the new Cedar Park spot, helmed by Uchi and Uchiko veterans Ek Timrerk and Thai Changthong, as the egg atop her black olive fried rice had gone "cartoonishly rubbery" on the drive home to central Austin, but dine-in experiences were somewhat better. The "Little Wing" starter was "succulent" despite "parsimonious" portions and she calls the larb sake an "extremely fresh and delicious" combination of grapes, tomatoes, cucumbers and salmon sashimi.
Sauces also posed a problem: Haupt finds a "completely unnecessary" dipping sauce for the moo sab and the Rib Ping's housemade barbecue sauce "didn't quite make the grade." The ribs themselves were "ultimately forgettable and lacking in flavor," and while she loved the veggie puc, she writes that the mix of beets, mushrooms, bean curd, snow peas and snow pea leaves "didn't make much sense." But, with some "minor adjustments," Haupt concludes that SPIN could help legitimize the 'burbs in terms of non-chain culinary innovation.
· TRIO Continues To Meet Four Seasons' High Standards [Austin360]
· Review: SPIN Modern Thai [Austin Chronicle]