Over at the Statesman, Matthew Odam reviews Al Fico and finds that the pasta dishes and wine list shine. On an otherwise straightforward and risk-averse menu,
The kitchen veered from the classics with a firm and coarse rye tortellini stuffed with fragrant pork and prosciutto sausage in an assertive caraway broth laced with cabbage ($12) and played the hits on a plate of squished and rippled radiatori scattered with lush, mineraly beef tongue in a bright bolognese piled with ricotta salata ($12).
The pizzas, antipasti, and dessert were not particularly compelling for him.
The Chronicle released its third annual First Plates list in lieu of a restaurant review this week. The index spotlights 100 must-eat restaurants, which should simplify Austinites’ dining out plans enormously over the next year. New this year is the Virginia Wood Hall of Fame, an ode to the former food editor. It singles out a handful of restaurants that "set the bar for the entire culinary scene," including Asti, Chinatown, and Threadgill’s.
Food editor Brandon Watson named Apis as his top restaurant for 2016, with Emmer & Rye and Olamaie rounding out the top three. Writing that he’d feared the demise of Austin’s restaurant scene after last year’s high-profile closures, he says:
The men and women who drive Austin's hospitality industry are too passionate, too driven, and too talented for that to happen. Our dining culture isn't deflating; it's just changing.
Austin Monthly’s Jolene Bouchon finds grown-up cocktails, savory snacks, and hearty portions of satisfying desserts at Nightcap. Because it is first and foremost a dessert bar, the sweets department sparkles bright:
Chocolate is well represented with the salt/pepper, a rich pavé of chocolate with salted caramel ice cream and crumbled honeycomb [...] The earthy and rich goat cheese parfait, layered with beet sorbet, grapefruit and feuilletine, will hit the spot with those who like their dessert with a touch of savory, as will the coffee & doughnut, a substantial helping of coffee panna cotta topped with cardamom cream, accompanied by a ricotta beignet and crisped ham.
She and her lady friends enjoyed most of the cocktails, apart from a pisco that reminded her of hand soap.