In his first review since September, Statesman critic Matthew Odam was left wanting more at tapas-centric El Chipiron. Though initially excited by a Spanish restaurant in a sea of Italian and New American openings in Austin, he ultimately found the menu tasty, but limited.
Despite the awkward location in a “mixed use box” on South Lamar, he found the physical restaurant beautiful (a sentiment shared by Eater Austin), commenting on the “thoughtfully designed space, colored in tones of coral, sage and lavender and hued with light that is both honeyed and crystalline.”
After finding a too-small menu of pinchos only served at the bar, Odam remarked that the remaining small plates “can be tackled by a table of four in one visit.” The kitchen showed technical proficiency with seafood:
The depth of squid ink-darkened rice with supple ringlets of squid and plump scallops jazzed with a zip of aioli ($16), a garlic-studded and Albarino-infused broth swimming with mussels that hid funky nuggets of chorizo ($15), and excellent octopus tenderized to beautiful consistency by being dipped repeatedly in boiling water ($16) all displayed the kitchen’s facility with seafood and were also emblematic of the restaurant in that they showed plenty of intriguing promise but stopped short on fully delivering on that promise.
There was unfulfilled potential from the restaurant. After enjoyable large plates and desserts seemingly chosen for economic reasons, Odam ultimately hopes that chef Pablo Gomez will be able to infuse more of his home country into the restaurant. He did call out the bar’s “marvelous” gin and tonic menu.
Former Eater Austin associate editor Melanie Haupt visited Le Politique for the Chronicle, and was also impressed by a gorgeous space. From the “bright” space to the “sleek” oyster bar, everything was thoughtful.
After a slight wait for a dinner visit, Haupt highlighted the escargot and moules frites with “plump and creamy” bouchot mussels. However, her favorite was the chef’s signature poulet roti:
The crispy-skinned half-chicken rests atop braised lettuce, turnips, mushrooms, and peas and a sauce vin jaune, with a little cast-iron pot of creamy pommes aligot (cheesy mashed potatoes). It is breathtakingly delicious.
Haupt also stopped by for brunch. Having been somewhat disappointed by the desserts at dinner (“The mille crêpe opéra, whose enticing, glossy ganache looked promising, was ultimately just okay”), she liked the “buttery” croissant, though the restaurant was sold out of the almond and chocolate varieties. Savory dishes won the meal, with the “rich” croque madame and hash of the day faring better than the pain perdu.
THE BLOGS: ATX Eats and Treats is kicking herself for not sampling Haitian food while she devoured the stewed chicken at Kreyol Korner, and So Much Life blog loved the neighborhood vibe at Royal Jelly.
- At El Chipirón, we wanted a delicious love letter from Spain; we got a text [Statesman]
- Restaurant Review: Le Politique [Chronicle]
- All Coverage of El Chipiron [EATX]
- All Coverage of Le Politique [EATX]