Reviews are popping up left and right from Austin's food critics. The Statesman's Matthew Odam reviews Mettle, and in addition to a lengthy feature on sake in Austin's restaurants, The Chronicle wrote up the new Quickie Pickie, as well as trailers Via 313 and Picnik.
On the heels of last week's Chronicle review that chef Andrew Francisco told Culture Map "was pretty soul crushing," Matthew Odam echoes the verdict that Mettle is interesting but highly uneven. The menu "wanders from rustic Texas flavors to comforting Asian-inspired dishes," and parts remind the critic of "a less accomplished version of Olivia," Francisco's previous kitchen. The barbeque shrimp "tasted like something from a marinade bottle" and the spaghetti composed of "lifeless noodles in a small pool of star-anise broth" disappointed.
Odam finds Mettle on firmer footing with "comfort dishes rooted closer to home." The "outstanding" beef tongue tacos and the "executed to perfection" fried chicken both are standouts, and the "refreshing" Siamese caipirinha cocktail gets high marks. Ultimately, however, Odam finds himself wondering, "Why does a fancy place that projects itself as a sleek and modern bistro spend so much time with glorified bar food?" Chef Francisco tells Culture Map that he frequents Salt & Time; let's hope the next time he's there, someone buys him a beer.
The Chronicle's Kate Thornberry praises the re-imagined Quickie Pickie on East 11th as "a hybrid uniquely suited to the neighborhood." While offering ample take-out food options "focused on portability," there is also a sit-down menu. Thornberry calls the breakfast menu "strong" reserving specific praise for the "the chorizo, egg, and sweet potato taco," which she calls, "simply amazing." The sandwiches "are another strong point," though the hummus plate is "forgettable." Low points included a Gulf Coast Niçoise "straight from the refrigerator" with "rubbery cold fish." Thornberry concludes that, "if Quickie Pickie tightens up its game just a little bit, it will be a contender."
Chronicle critics also filed two shorter write-ups of local trailers Via 313 and Picnik. Claudia Alarcón praises Via 313's Detroit-style pizza with its "a crispy layer of caramelized cheese" and describes herself as a "die-hard" regular. Sadly, the trailer has moved up to Rainey Street, away from Alarcón'S South Austin home. Meanwhile, Jessi Cape enjoys paleo-focused Picnik's Asian pork tenderloin salad, also from the fridge, though with a "tender and juicy" hunk of meat. Less impressive is their reliance on non-local coffee and bottled juices. The trailer is focused on goofy health trend "modern ancestral cuisine," which Cape describes as "feeding both the Flintstones and the Jetsons."
· Sophisticated Mettle Needs a Polish [Statesman]
· Mettle Chefs Discuss East Austin, Kitchen Collaboration, and That Mediocre Review [Culture Map]
· A Quickie Picker Upper [Chronicle]
· Via 313 [Chronicle]
· A Picnik Fit for Diners of the Future [Chronicle]