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Feast on Plenty of Plates at Barley Swine

11.30.2016 by: Beth Stockwell Vanderkolk
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I wasn't sure what to expect when checking out the new Barley Swine spot on Burnet Road. As a tried and true South Austiner, I was really bummed to see Barley Swine move north. But going to the new digs was really worth the effort- the build out is cozy and cool, the patio is beautiful, and of course the food is as delicious and inventive as ever. The concept of small shared plates, as well as the head-to-snout movement that Barley Swine in-part pioneered in Austin, were once few and far between. But now, luckily the farm-to-table and tapas experience feels so common in the city's dining scene. As someone who  loves variety and wants to try everything on the menu, I'm always on board for ordering a lot and sharing it all. Though trying the whole menu will come at a price at Barley Swine, you'll find it's worth every penny.

It had been well over a year since my last Barley Swine visit, so I was excited to see the current menu, which is prone to changing based on what the chef's working with. I was tempted by the Chef's Selection (10 plates of the chef's choosing for $90) but stuck to ordering based on what sounded best, which ended up saving us a bit of money. On a dinner date for two, 10 plates each might've left us too stuffed.

Barley Swine Fall menu

First up was the gorgeous Zucchini dish, made with apple, goat feta, and field pea spread for $7. It was almost too pretty to slice into... almost. The flower-shaped dish was bright - the perfect way to begin a meal. Though this plate looks tiny, we were each afforded 3-4 bites, the perfect amount when you know you have much more coming your way. Up next and unbelievably just as beautiful, the Blue crab with dragon's tongue beans for $12 was my date's favorite. The delicate blue crab was perfect with the thin crunch of radish and savory beans and corn.

Zucchini, apple, goat feta, field pea spread

Blue crab, dragon's tongue beans, corn, radish

As we progressed from the lighter dishes to the heavier, our appetites were in full swing when this next dish hit the table. The Shiitake pasta with soft scrambled egg and summer squash for $12 was such a hit that 3 other couples at our long communal table ordered it, as well. Warm and comforting, this was just the way to tuck into a long dinner with a date or friends. I've tried to replicate Barley Swine's perfect soft scramble at home, and I'm pretty sure it's impossible. After we literally scraped the bowl clean, our next dish landed. Did we mention how awesome the service is here? The Grilled potato, pickles, mustards, and peanut ranch for $9 was a departure from our previous dishes, but a great intro to some of the meats we knew were coming down the line. Peanut ranch? Please, Barley Swine, bottle this sauce. Another vegetarian dish we tried right before some of our carnivorous indulgences was the Ricotta dumplings with charred eggplant, fresno chile for $11. This is another fall favorite- something about it was super comforting, and of course absolutely delicious.

Shiitake pasta, scrambled egg, summer squash

Grilled potato, pickles, mustards, peanut ranch

Ricotta dumplings, charred eggplant, fresno chile

Now let's talk meat. Barley Swine knows what they're doing when it comes to preparing pork, beef, chicken - you name it. They can break it down and use any part of the animal to prepare a gourmet dish. While the term "upscale peasant food" isn't as appealing as the food itself, it's a great way to describe how the kitchen is able to use some parts of animals that other kitchens just toss. Our first foray into meat that night was lamb sausage wrapped in an omelette with okra and pistachio for $14. Now, lamb can be tricky, but Barley Swine of course prepared it perfectly. We loved the kolache-like plating, and wrapping the omelette around the sausage was such a great way to retain and enhance the sausage's juiciness. Lastly, we enjoyed the Pig face carnitas with sweet potato, apple, and pecan for $14. Yes, we said pig face. Don't picture it, just savor it - it's worth it!

Lamb sausage, omelette, okra, pistachio

Pig face carnitas, sweet potato, apple, pecan

After 7 small plates split between two very big eaters, we were shockingly and happily feeling very full after dinner. There are other small plate-centric restaurants in town that you leave feeling like you still need a burger- but we didn't feel that way here! Even with a beer added to the menu above, our dinner clocked in under $95. At under $50 per person, we were super impressed with the gorgeous, inventive, romantic dinner we enjoyed.

While I'm still sad that the new location is such a hike from its old South Lamar outpost, I'm happy to make the drive for such a lovely atmosphere and unbeatable dinner.

{Barley Swine official website}

TAGS : Allandale/Rosedale/Brentwood , Barley Swine