Food critic Matthew Odam at The Statesman found that not everything that glitters is gold — or good — at newcomer Eberly, which focuses on contemporary American dishes. With its collection of rooms for dining, drinking, and working, the impeccably designed restaurant opened on South Lamar last fall to a cacophony of "ooohs" and "aaahs" and quickly became a local Instagram darling.
Odam kicked off his review lamenting the shift in Austin from “chef-driven restaurants to vibe-driven restaurants,” but he is quick to give credit where credit is due — Eberly is a beauty. Co-owners Michael Dickson and Mickie Spencer (whose credits include Ah Sing Den) are behind the design that successfully blends Victorian and midcentury modern details for a contemporary wow-worthy look. However, the praise diminished from there.
Helmed by executive chef Jim Tripi, the kitchen’s pricey stumbles included a $25 plate of oily braised short ribs, an underseasoned quail that’ll run you $35, and dry coq au vin for $28. Eating there? Odam pointed to the ruby filet with crispy fries entrée and two sides:
The orecchiette pasta ($9) swam in a nutty and creamy bath of taleggio, white cheddar, Parmigiano and Gruyere cheeses, and the crispy, herb-flecked potato galette ($8) delivered sumptuous steakhouse pleasures. But you’re in trouble when side dishes are some of the most memorable parts of a $225 meal.
While drinks from Eberly’s Cedar Tavern earned applause from Odam, the burger — comprised of “charred patties and tough buns soaked in cheddar-Hollandaise sauce” — did not. Nor did the crowds that filled each of Eberly’s rooms. The take-away: Eberly may be better for looking and drinking, not eating—as long as you don’t mind crowds.
In stark contrast to Odam’s experience, Jolène M. Bouchon at Austin Monthly was won over by Eberly’s food declaring that it lives up to its beautiful design. While Bouchon and Odam were equally impressed with the restaurant’s decor (who isn’t, really?), the similarities stop there, namely the menu. Bouchon wrote:
Executive chef Jim Tripi’s contemporary American menu holds its own. In the back, the Cedar Tavern bar menu skews casual, with short rib sliders, a mouthwatering burger, crisp duck fat fries, and a selection of legit pizzas.
There were a few service missteps, including a 25-minute wait for drinks without so much as a complimentary dessert causing the food critic to administer this decree: “[…] when your design, food, and prices are as lofty in their ambitions as Eberly’s, everything has got to be the highest caliber.” Despite that, Bouchon awarded the restaurant 4 out of 5 stars.
Meanwhile, The Chronicle’s Brandon Watson declared that Red Ash, where simple ingredients play a staring role, is just what Austin needs. Brainchild of Eddie V’s original owners including executive chef John Carver and restaurateurs Larry Foles and Guy Villavaso, the restaurant debuted in October on the ground floor of the Colorado Tower downtown serving up updated takes on traditional Italian fare from house-made pastas to fresh fish to prime cuts of meat.
From the red snapper à la plancha to a bone-in filet cooked just right so that it needed no embellishment, Watson praised Carver’s dedication to letting the ingredients do the talking:
The commitment to integrity of ingredients served the house-made pastas well, too. The wild boar ragu was lusty against pappardelle ($16 for a small serving), the slight gaminess tempered by shaved Parmiginano-Reggiano. Brown butter sussed out the sweetness from the capelletti's ($17 small) ricotta filling.
And don’t miss the bread, which Watson pointed to as “a reason alone to visit Red Ash.”
THE BLOGS — Foodie is the New Forty scoped out Soursop Asian trailer, Dine with Shayda paid a visit to North Italia, and The Hungry Chronicles dished on Burgers and Burgundy Sunday evening at Nightcap.
- Review: Eberly is a shining example of how Austin’s scene has lost its way [Statesman]
- Review: Eberly [Austin Monthly]
- Review: Red Ash Italia [Chronicle]