This week, food critics go west to fancy little bistros for fancy west side folks. The Austin Chronicle's Virginia Wood dines at Russell's Bistro in Jefferson Square on 38th Street, and Mike "Fed Man Walking" Sutter ventures up to Bistrot Mirabelle on Mesa Drive in Northwest Austin. Both restaurants are new-ish ventures from Austin food scene veterans.
Russell's Bistro comes from the guys behind Russell's Bakery, and Wood calls it a "genuine neighborhood treasure," even if "the kitchen timing and table service still need some fine-tuning." Her party of six had a "mostly fine" brunch, despite waiting 15 minutes to get coffee (with no spoons!) and 45 minutes for entrees. Another trip for dinner introduced Wood to a "deliciously medium-rare," "beautifully marbled slice of prime rib," although service failed again: "details such as refilling iced tea and or bringing more hot water and tea bags for hot tea still fell through the cracks."
At Bistrot Mirabelle, new owner Brian O’Neill (formerly a general manager at Max's Wine Dive, Uchi and others) and chef Clint Bertrand have improved, in both price point and taste, upon the classic French dishes of the old Mirabelle, but still only get three stars from Mike Sutter. He loves the fries ("the kitchen would have my approval to put them with everything if decorum allowed") and the desserts ("among Bistrot Mirabelle’s strongest value points"), but suspects old-school Mirabellers will miss the former owner's "freewheeling wine list."
[Photo: Russell's Bistro/Facebook]