Statesman critic Matthew Odam got fired up about the fare and booze at Boiler Nine Bar + Grill despite the space's chilly aesthetic. La Corsha Hospitality Group’s ambitious brainchild made its debut this past summer in the revamped Seaholm Power Plant. After appointing the newcomer #25 in his 2016 picks, it’s no surprise he bestowed accolades for the menu anchored by wood-fired dishes, the beverage program, and the views.
While warning that executive chef Jason Stude’s bold and creativity menu could at times overwhelm some diners, Odam affirmed of the oak-roasted chicken:
It represented the comfort of home, joy of freedom and excitement of luxury in a context that felt familiar.
He also applauds director of beverage and bars Jason Stevens and wine director Paula Rester for rising to the challenge and offering deliciously compatible cocktails and wine. But then there is that space:
While it is cool to see the old Seaholm repurposed to meet the needs of our evolving city, the cold aesthetic of the still-futuristic, Fritz Lang-inspired architecture and the Tetris-like blockiness of Boiler Nine Bar + Grill seem better suited for a restaurant focused on more thematically appropriate cuisine.
The distracting juxtaposition between comfort and cold is where Boiler Nine lives.
Chronicle’s Melody Fury raised a glass to East Sixth Street’s Ah Sing Den cocktails, but not much more. After a seven year run, East Side Showroom shut down unexpectedly last summer and was quickly replaced by Asian-inspired Ah Sing Den. The small but mighty cocktail menu comprised of inventive and well-balanced offerings is where it’s at for Fury.
The Guyanese Sour and the Burmese Mission were standouts from the short list of seven house cocktails ($12-13). The sour's grilled pineapple and cayenne chile syrup wove through the aged rum's earthiness with zest and a pleasant slow heat. Citrus shines in the gin-based Mission, accented by herbal Thai basil and house-made clementine togarashi (a red chile pepper-based Japanese spice mix) syrup. The bar also prepares a handful of classics ($10) with care, which are a steal at $6 during happy hour. The trusty Old Fashioned, interpreted here with rye and raw sugar, deserves a special nod.
Unfortunately the praise stopped there. Classified by the lounge as “tipples and morsels," the menu includes dishes like Japanese soba with Thai-style curry, Taiwanese steamed buns, and forbidden rice pudding. Many of the dishes were scarred by textural issues, Fury pointed out. As for the service, the blasé attitude likely explained the overall a lack of attention to detail (e.g. scattered crumbs on the seats, a dirty fork and napkin, etc).
Her take-away: “The bar's recent face-lift was not a fresh enough breath of air,” but oh, did those drinks deliver.
THE BLOGS — The Austinot previewed Red Okra (and weighed in on other new additions) at Whole Foods Market on Sixth and Lamar, Sushi in the ATX got fired up about Red Ash, Dine with Shayda enjoyed a dose of nostalgia at Austin Gourmet Popcorn, and Fed Man Walking checked out Two Bros. BBQ Market in San Antonio.
- Review: Boiler Nine Bar + Grill will warm you if you can see past its ice [Statesman]
- Review: Ah Sing Den [Chronicle]