Chronicle’s food critic Brandon Watson reviewed newcomer Eberly and declared that style reigns over substance at the hot spot. The brainchild of former Stubb’s co-owners John Scott and Eddy Patterson, the South Lamar beauty and its collection of well-appointed rooms opened last fall with a menu centered on contemporary American cuisine.
Watson noted that the co-owners Michael Dickson and Mickie Spencer successfully created a “showstopping dining room that seamlessly travels decades." But his compliments stop there, where everything else felt disconnected, or as he wrote, there was a certain feeling of “soullessness of Eberly's operation.”
The critic found a menu fraught with missteps, from oversalted gaufrettes and underdeveloped caramelized onions, poke masquerading as tuna tartare, and the venison and quail dish:
With its clotted streak of huckleberry jam and dollops of assertively pickled red cabbage, the venison and quail ($35) had the dusty mauve colors of a small-town "Victoriana" boutique – even as it puffed its chest with all the signifiers of expense account masculinity. Strip it of its frippery, and the dish could have come out of Dean Fearing's the Mansion on Turtle Creek. That's not necessarily a bad thing – 1980s Southwestern cuisine is due for a considered comeback – but the venison medallions were dry, and the thin slice of Ibérico bacon wrapping added scant succulence.
There were a few winners among the dishes. He pointed to simply-dressed farm vegetables, the Eberly green salad, and the banana mousse with butterscotch ice cream as dishes that surpassed the rest of the “deeply mediocre” offerings.
Watson acknowledged that the bar program has been retooled since his last visit and bestowed hopes that it has moved away from the sugary-sweet swigs offered on the previous menu. He summarized the restaurant:
“Eberly as it stands is a demographic chart, a sought arrangement between Austin's moneyed experience seekers and a corporatized hospitality industry.”
Meanwhile, USA Today spotlighted La Barbecue as a must-try trailer within Austin's snowballing trailer scene. Writer Larry Olmsted pointed to the ribs, beef rib, and brisket as reasons to visit and underscored what makes the trailer so special:
Where La Barbecue goes modern and beyond standard fare is in its sourcing, using meats from ranches outside Austin that raise grass-fed animals drug free and without steroids, antibiotics or hormones, something very unusual in the barbecue world, though it is starting to gain traction. Any knock on grass-fed beef as being too lean is immediately refuted by the thick band of succulent, juicy fat running through the middle of each slice of near perfect brisket, its exterior covered in a nice “bark,” barbecue slang for the crust formed by the spice rub applied to the exterior of the meat.
He highlighted the brisket, pork ribs, and sausage and claimed the beef ribs as a personal favorite because it's "something that is hard to find and even when you do, hard to find cooked really well." La Barbecue earned an “OMG!” (top) ranking on the reviewer’s scale and was singled out as one of Austin’s very best barbecue spots.
THE BLOGS — South Austin Foodie checked out El Burro, the new sibling to Vox Table, Austinot filled up on a Christmas cheer at Lala’s Little Nugget, and Sushi in the ATX tried the new happy hour menu at The Park.