Statesman critic Matthew Odam revisited perennial nose-to-tail favorite Foreign & Domestic, following a change in ownership last year. Odam was pleased with the stayed course taken by the new owners, chefs, and Parkside alums, Sarah Heard (who is a semi-finalist for the Eater Young Guns award) and Nathan Lemley.
Odam started with the flash-fried beef tongue, a holdover from the previous menu, and calls it “as good as or better now than it’s ever been.” He also praised the Parisian gnocchi, which offered a little bit of lemon zest to brighten the dish, and inventive desserts like the cast-iron black butter chocolate chip cookie.
The high point for Odam came from the house-made pasta dishes:
Ribbed spirals of gemelli hid all sorts of delights. There were the tiny bits of guanciale, often overcooked or oversized in many similar dishes; the ramp used in the pesto to give it that grassy riverside quality; infinitesimal bits of cashews for crunch; and the umami of grana padano that tied it all together and lifted it up ($12). The textures, the balance, the subtlety, knowing exactly when is enough — that’s what I want from a kitchen.
Odam did have small complaints: a burger that came with unrequested but charged upgrades of an egg and bacon and food that was “almost to the point of belt-busting discomfort at times.”
Overall, he concluded: “The food comforts you [...] while also surprising and impressing you without grandstanding or self-indulgence.”
Chronicle reviewer Emily Beyda found a rare purveyor of South Indian cuisine at Chennai Cafe in Round Rock. She ventured into the “surreally opulent” cafe, noting the menu’s emphasis on seafood, coconut, vegetarian ingredients, along with a mouth-searing level of spice.
On a first visit, she admitted she may have overdosed on the delicious murukku (fried rings of dough). The next dish was the essential sambar (“a tamarind and lentil broth-based vegetable soup”) and she was delighted to find it “delectable and super velvety.” The meal was capped off with the “kabillion-Scovilles-hot chile burn” of nilgiri curry with paneer and fresh mint to ease the fire.
On a second visit, Beyda prepped her palate with neer moor, a spiced buttermilk drink before digging into incendiary arcot biryani and puzhi kuzhambu poondu. She noted:
[T]he intensely spicy sauce was a little surprising, to the degree that the whole cloves of garlic that studded the sauce tasted surprisingly neutral, even a little sweet, in contrast.
Beyda closed the meal with karuvadu kathirikkai kuzhambu, a dry fish and eggplant stew, which turned out to be her favorite dish. Overall, she called it “a fantastically enriching culinary experience.”
ON THE BLOGS: This Doesn’t Suck tried newly open The Switch and found the po’ boys to be “amazing;” DiscoveringATX loved the atmosphere and the al pastor at South Congress food truck Taco Man 512.
- New owners give Foreign & Domestic a delicious tune-up [Statesman]
- Far Flung Correspondence: Chennai Cafe [Chronicle]
- Restaurant Review: 101 By Tea Haus [Austin Monthly]
- All Coverage of Foreign & Domestic [EATX]