If you have seen yesterday's Facebook post, you most likely laughed at the length of restaurants I intentionally squeezed into my epic three-day visit to Austin, Texas. It was absolutely wonderful from start (at Clark's) to finish (at Juiceland) with seventeen of my best friends. The coffees, afternoon snacks, and dirty martinis were not taken for granted, either. I don't know how I managed to consume that many calories (Was the Easy Tiger pretzel really necessary? Yes.), but I'm still standing. So let's continue.
For our first dinner, thirteen of us took a piece of the vast Second Street heated outdoor patio at a favorite, Second Bar and Kitchen. The long table provided enough room to pass and share plates among the group. So that's just what we did!
Unfortunately, we dug into the appetizers too quickly to photograph, but the variety was perfect for our party size. The baked brie with sweet currant-apricot mostado and spicy basil was crowd pleaser -- melted cheese spread onto a toasted crostini like butter. The garlic gnocchi with winter squash was excellent and super seasonal, considering its light and simple disposition. Pumpkin seed-flecked ricotta salad added a slightly rich component. If only the gnocchi was a large plate instead of a small one! We also enjoyed the avocado fundido (think guac and queso combined), bite-sized veal meatballs, and a margarita pizza.
For my entrée, I about died over my vegetarian mushroom carbonara. The combination was smoked and raw mushrooms was fascinating, and the housemade linguine melted amongst the grana padano cheese and crispy arugula. The above photograph shows only half of the portion (since I split with Risa), so be aware of the mighty large portions. I could've eaten two, this was so unbelievable!
The flank steak with chimchurri had a colorful presentation with fresh chiles and cilantro. Others enjoyed the infamous pizzas and raw kale and carrot salad with jumbo grilled shrimp. We were impressed with the efficient service and attention to detail, even for a large group. And while I had already experienced Second Bar and Kitchen twice -- once for an afternoon cheese plate and once for a Sunday night dinner -- I loved the weekend patio vibe. I can't wait to revisit!