Statesman critic Matthew Odam visited resurrected fried chicken restaurant J.T. Youngblood’s, and had nothing but praise for the crispy bird. The iconic restaurant, which was once a chain of 30 restaurants that closed in the 1970s, was given new life in March by an all-star team of chefs. Where the Chronicle found it slightly lacking, the food took Odam on a nostalgic journey through old Austin.
After delighting in the fried chicken itself (“The frying technique leaves a knobby, auburn shell that doesn’t just slip from the chicken but clings to the juicy meat, giving each bite some crackle and snap.”), Odam lauded the restaurant’s adherence to down-home cooking throughout the menu:
The macaroni and cheese is tossed in a slightly nutty and very creamy mix of gruyere and cheddar flecked with herbs, but after that we’re talking straight comfort: buttermilk whipped mashed potatoes with the kind of deep, silken gravy that comes from a recipe shared by generations of family members; red cabbage slaw zipped with a splash of apple cider vinegar (goes great on the fried chicken sandwich); and firm smoked butter beans swimming in a pool slicked by chicken grease.
Odam does advise that the dining room is “utilitarian,” and not exactly a place to linger.
On the vegetarian end of things, Chronicle editor Brandon Watson is largely hopeful for Citizen Eatery. He was relieved to find an exciting menu of veggie burgers, bolognese, parsnip pancakes, and other plant-based offerings rather than crunchy sprouts and tofu. He particularly praised the “decadent” Homestyle Burger.
That said, Watson found room for improvement in the sourcing and understaffed service. Avocado toast was on store-bought bread, chickpeas in a power bowl came straight from a can, and the menu didn’t seem seasonal:
Vegetarian cuisine especially relies on the integrity of its ingredients. Although I understand margins make using all local cost-prohibitive for many eateries, it would have been nice to see more of the early summer bounty on the plate.
Overall, Watson thinks the neighborhood vibe and and unique menu of Citizen Eatery are “just what Austin needs more of.”
- Fried chicken with a side of nostalgia at J.T. Youngblood’s [Statesman]
- Restaurant Review: Citizen Eatery [Chronicle]