I feel a subtle sense of intimidation right now. How am I, a food blogger and chef-wanna-be, qualified to "critique" and conjure up dining details of Austin's hottest restaurant? Frankly, I'm not. Therefore, this post will not be filled with expert judgments of typically mispronounced ingredients or attempts to portray the culinary brilliance of Top Chef winner and Food & Wine Best New Chef Paul Qui. The menu was a spectacle, the food was magnificent, and the restaurant's decor was completely out-of-the-box. . .obviously. Would you expect anything less?
I was most impressed by Qui's customer service, which is the primary reason I feel entitled enough to share an opinion of the place. Three of us managed to grab a 9:15 reservation on a Friday night; so we eagerly saved up our appetites and entered the minimalist establishment right on time. The hostess walked us to a patio area, inviting us to order a drink while our table was prepared. We enjoyed "the official drink of Austin" -- Chef won the city-wide contest with his bold tepache and honey cocktail. Yes, it was a winner.
Thirty minutes later, we had not yet been seated -- the time flew due to awesome people-watching and funky, eye-drawing patio decor. Before an opportunity even arose to ask the hostess for an update (i.e. complain), the manager arrived at our cocktail table and offered four appetizers on the house to apologize for the delay! I knew it would be a fantastic night. . .and it was.
Chef Paul Qui expresses his witty character in every dish. We were instantly enthralled by the menu, which our waiter explained in detail and with such passion. We tried eight dishes or so in total, but our table began with a play-on version of cheese spray and ended with an aged cheddar cheese ice cream sandwich. Interesting, right? Chef is deeply rooted in Filipino tradition, yet he cannot pass by the Texan influence; his Texas wagyu and Filipino curry marry without question. The smoked short rib (first photo) was my very favorite of all that we tried.
This can't-miss restaurant completely surprised my palette and surpassed my expectations of customer service. Chef Paul Qui is truly something else, and I cannot wait to revisit his newest namesake.
featured image via qui austin