Barley Swine

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Bryce Gilmore, Executive Chef and owner of Barley Swine was to be one of the chefs at the 2016 Austin Food & Wine Festival.   For this reason we chose to have dinner at Barley Swine and to go all out by having the Chef’s Tasting Menu.

The Tasting Menu consisted of 10 small plate-size courses listed above plus an amuse bouche, palate cleanser, and extra dessert.   The cost was $85 per person.

The four of us also shared two pairings (a mix of wine, cocktails, and beers were paired with each course) for an extra $55.

First came an Amuse bouche…

Cabbage roll with crawfish and strawberries

This was good but you couldn’t really taste the strawberries.

And with the amuse bouche came a complimentary glass of sparkling wine…

Then our First Course…
Grilled Strawberries, snap peas and chèvre
This was very good.  It had some spiciness to it because the chevre was peppered.
The first course was paired with a very good cocktail…
Angelina: Texas strawberry, orange bitters, elderflower, sparkling wine
Course #2 was…
Pig skin noodles, shrimp dumplings, hot sauce
The noodles were actually made from brined and sous-vide pig skin.  Also this dish had some tasty marcona almonds in the mix.  It was very good.  My sister said it was one of her Top 3 favorite courses of this meal.
Many of our tasting menu courses, including the pig skin noodles, were available from the Small Plate section of Barley Swine’s regular menu.  In fact, the pig skin noodles are still listed on their menu now, a year later, so I assume this must be a popular dish.
 The noodles were paired with a 2013 Boundary Breaks (vineyard located in Finger Lakes, NY) Ovid Line North Riesling…
 
This was a slightly sweet riesling which paired perfectly with the spiciness of this dish.
Then Course #3 was…
Grilled carrot and peanut-ranch sauce
This also had avocado, dill, and parsley.  It sounded like it would be really good but it was just okay.
 This was paired with a beer…
Philosophizer Saison Ale from Adelbert’s Brewing (Texas brewery)  – Winner of the 2013 Craft Beer Awards Gold Medal

This was a smooth ale that tasted citrusy with yeasty notes and a hint of peppery spice.

Next came Course #4…
Poached red snapper, koji butter (starter for miso paste), cured watermelon radish, and romaine  
This also had alfalfa sprouts and maybe even some brussel sprout leaves??? This dish was excellent and it made all of our Top 3 favorites lists.
The red snapper was paired well with the 2012 Merriman (Columbia Valley, Oregon winery) Chenin Blanc…
Next up was the Palate Cleanser…
Calamondin  (fruit that is a cross between a mandarin orange and kumquat) frozen yogurt
Then Course #5 was another one which made all of our Top 3 Favorites Lists…
Parsley croissant with bone marrow 
This was paired with a French dry red wine,  a 2012 Alt .433M Mas Amiel (winery of the Languedoc-Roussillon area of France)…
Course #6 was…
Blackened Octopus, pork fried rice, cabbage
And a little closer view…
This was my least favorite course, as I’m not generally a fan of blackened food and I don’t like octopus.  The others didn’t care for it either, except for my niece who included this in her Top 3 favorites.  Go figure??? Lol
No additional pairing was served with this, so the previous glass of red wine was for both course 5 and 6…
Next was Course #7…
Fried Chicken, smoked fish caramel, pickles (perhaps pickled okra?)
The caramel sauce was made from smoked fish bones, spicy habanero, and sweet caramel.   It was a nice combination of sweet, spicy, and smokey flavors.  We liked this dish, especially my niece who named it as one of her Top 3 favorites.
This chicken course was paired with a beer…
The Meddler Oud Bruin from the Odell Brewing Co. of Fort Collins, Colorado.
This was a limited release sour ale with hints of malty sweet chocolate and vanilla but had a sour finish.  Too sour for me.
By the way, I loved the wooden plates on which the 7th course was served.  All 4 of our plates were different.  My favorite was the square one pictured above.
Then moving on to Course #8…
Red Wattle (a type of hog) Pork Loin, beet, strawberry
Had caramelized egg whites at the base of the pork loin, which was different.
The pork loin was paired with a Spanish red wine, 2009 Bodegas Fuentespina Ribera del Duero Tempranillo Reserva…
This was a heavier red than the first one we had, so I was surprised that I liked it since I generally don’t like full-bodied reds.
Course #9 was served without a pairing…
Grapefruit sorbet, coconut yogurt,  on top of beet granita (think beet flavored slushie) with pieces of grapefruit and and candied beets
I’m not a fan of grapefruit, but this was ok when eaten with the coconut flavored yogurt and sweet beets.
Course #10 was our first dessert course…
Peanut Monte Blanc, honey, dark chocolate, ginger 
And a little closer look…
Here’s a description of this dessert from a December 2015 Austin Eater article by Nadia Chaudhury titled, “Take a Sneak Peek of Barley Swine 2.0’s New Desserts”.

Usually, Mont Blancs are made with chestnut pastry cream, but [Susana]Querejazu (the executive pastry chef for both Barley Swine and Odd Duck) wanted to add a Texas twist with peanuts instead, using the first batch of the legumes from Phoenix Farm in Bastrop. She pipes the peanut pastry cream on top of the [dark] chocolate-dipped chocolate mousse. Underneath that is a layer of ginger jam “to brighten it up.” She also adds crunchy lacto-fermentables, shaved honeycomb candy, honey, Maldon salt, and sorrel for a pop of color.

This was delicious!  One of my Top 3 favorites from this meal.
The dessert was paired with a sweet sparkling French rose wine…
Last we were given a bonus dessert course…
They called these Merveilleux (my description is a hollowed out Meringue cookie filled with a grapefruit-flavored custard) along with candied strawberries.

And that completed our 13 course meal.  It was very good and the service was excellent.  We gave it an overall score of 4 1/2 stars out of 5.  While Yelp reviewers gave Barley Swine only a 4, they did rank it #26 on their top 1000 list of Austin’s best restaurants. Trip Advisor reviewers agreed with us and gave them 4 1/2 stars but only a ranking of #136 best of all the Austin restaurants reviewed.  

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