Statesman’s Matthew Odam discovered chef Paul Qui’s new restaurant Kuneho is a return to the basics — and that’s a good thing. The new spot re-debuted in January as the successor to his flagship, Qui, and offers up Japanese bites, sushi, deep-fried items, and more.
So what happened to Qui’s namesake restaurant, which closed last September? Odam suggested it suffered from clarity of vision, as well as the chef shirking some of his responsibilities. The critic added that fans of his “complex yet simple” approach during his time at Uchiko wanted more of that, which they didn’t find. While Odam was quick to point out that while he personally appreciated the menu, he felt that other patrons were confused and even frustrated.
The shuttering of Qui the restaurant happened six months after Qui the person was arrested on assault charges last spring. He claimed that the subsequent shuttering was a way refocus his efforts after that well-publicized arrest, which he admitted affected his restaurants financially. Then he decided to transform the restaurant into Kuneho, and then announced a new Houston restaurant named Aqui. (Earlier this month, the Chronicle’s review of the restaurant suggested that Kuneho is proof of Qui's "redemption.")
For Odam, Kuneho is a marked return to Qui’s style, all about “having fun creating in the kitchen.” While the critic concedes that Qui still takes a multicultural approach to his menu, this time it is much more a concerted effort.
The critic found that the impressively innovative menu provided a wealth of wins, from the quail egg to the sweet blue crab to rabbit curry. The hits keep coming from top to bottom of the lengthy menu with few — if any — stumbles. Of the raw offerings, he wrote:
The kitchen balances tanginess of mackerel and bright ginger with toasted sesame seeds on one standout piece of nigiri ($3). Green tea oil, crispy garlic and a sliver of jalapeno give depth, clarity and crunch to luxurious cold-smoked salmon ($15), and the chefs were wise to give little adornment, just some fresh wasabi, to a ruby piece of big eye tuna ($5) and a majestic slab of lightly seared A5 Miyazaki wagyu ($14) brushed with smoked soy and tickled with black pepper.
Odam recommended eating at the sushi counter for better service, which wasn’t necessarily found in the main dining area. That aside, Kuneho’s successful menu suggests Qui’s return to the basics was a good place to start.
Meanwhile, Austin Monthly’s Kimya Kavehkar doesn’t believe brunch at Revelry Kitchen + Bar is worth an early wake-up call. Corner Bar owner Jonathan Lochrie debuted the East Sixth Street neighborhood bar last August, and added brunch service last December. The bar’s brunch predictably takes on a boozy bent with cocktails.
However, neither the food and beverage menu fully lived up to its potential. For example, both the chicken lollipop wings and curry earned accolades for flavor, but missteps like the use of bone-in chicken, plating, and lower-quality pita left something to be desired, especially with the beignets:
The dish I was most excited about was the beignets — a Creole delicacy hard to find in Austin. However, the beignets delivered to the table were three dense biscuit-shaped chunks of funnel cake so saturated with oil and sugar that I had a stomachache the rest of the day.
The stumbles continued with the beverages. The most alluring drink on the menu, the lavender pisco sour, proved not to be a standout after all. The critic explained: “With seemingly no sour in it, the $10 cocktail was hard to swallow and ultimately left unfinished.”
Bottomline: While Revelry’s casual atmosphere and outdoor games got a thumbs up, its brunch service needs some tweaking to be considered a major player in Austin’s weekend plans.
THE BLOGS — Taste of Koko toured the new 365 by Whole Foods Market in Cedar Park, Dine with Shayda relaxed on Olamaie’s picturesque porch for a Southern-inspired happy hour, and Austinot profiled three of Austin’s buzziest supper clubs.