When Barley Swine reopened on Burnet Road in January, expectations were high. Both the menu and the space have expanded, including an inventive pastry menu courtesy of Susana Querejazu and Robert Stevens' ambitious, seasonal cocktail program. While there have been no formal reviews filed by local critics, read on for everyday diners' thoughts on whether the beloved restaurant delivers on those expectations during its first couple of months back in business.
The food — The pig skin noodles with hot sauce seem to be a fairly divisive dish. Forks Up was taken aback that the noodles weren't crispy, but thought they worked well; DC-based blogger Mel Huang, who'd carved out space on his dining calendar to visit Barley Swine while in Austin, found them to be a "sticky mess."
The shared plates — Yelper Laura R. understands the shared plates concept, but wonders how four people are supposed to split a three-inch tamale. Blogger Lynlie Wallace indulged in the 14-course tasting menu and was surprised to find herself stuffed after "14 tiny bites."
The prices — Budget diners can get in on an affordable "swine time" happy hour visit, as described in detail by SushiATX. Bill S., writing on TripAdvisor, reckons that the tasting menu and drinks will set you back three bills, worthy of "very special occasions." Yelper Vee B. isn't impressed, claiming "for $370, you would think we wouldn't be leaving hungry and completely sober."
The cocktails — Veronica Meewes of Zagat describes the cocktails as "well-balanced and straightforward," citing the Black Walnut Old Fashioned as a standout.
The space — As strip malls go, this new construction is pretty fancy. SushiATX declares that the "handsome decor" is the perfect complement to BS's farm-to-table ethos. Yelper Lolo O. thinks that the Mason jars full of pickles gives the restaurant more of a "Cracker Barrel feel" than a "sophisticated new Austin restaurant."