Emmer & Rye

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Our next restaurant choice, Emmer & Rye, was again based on the fact that the owner and chef, Kevin Fink, was to be one of the Chef Showcase participants at the 2016 Austin Food & Wine Festival.  That and the fact that Chef Kevin Fink had just been named one of the 2016 Food & Wine magazine Best New Chefs.

Fink opened Emmer & Rye at 51 Rainey Street in Austin, Texas in November 2015.  With it’s opening Fink brought a unique dining experience to Austin, as Emmer & Rye is the first contemporary American restaurant in Austin to offer dim sum service as part of their meal.  In other words, guests are able to choose items directly off of circulating carts…

…as well as order from their weekly rotating menu that uses local farm-to-table ingredients.  Here was their menu on April 22, 2016…

The four of us ordered several small plates from the menu, as well as some of the “dim sum” items which were offered to us from the carts brought to our table.

But before the food came a cocktail ordered and enjoyed by my niece…

This was a Trinidad Sour with Rye Whiskey, Angostura bitters, Orgeat and fresh lemon juice.  

Then we started with something from the Dim Sum cart…

Emmer Salad with Kale, Chevre, Cherry Tomatoes, Spring Onion, and Tomato Vinaigrette 6

And in case you are unfamiliar with emmer…

Emmer is Chef Kevin Fink’s favorite grain and therefore it was incorporated into his restaurant’s name and many of its dishes.  The protein and nutrition content of emmer is very high, plus it’s very flavorful.

Anyway, getting back to the Emmer Salad, it was very good.  It was among my sister’s and niece’s favorites from this meal.

Our next choice was ordered from their menu…

Buratta Toast with Stracciatella Cheese, Arugula, and Black Butter

This was good but not good enough to make any of our lists of favorites.

Another item which was ordered from the menu but not among our favorites was the…

Ember Roasted Root Vegetables, Smoked Carrots, Turnips and Beets

Nothing exceptional about this dish, it was just okay.

But next up was one of my favorites of the evening…

Yellow Bollita Polenta, Mushroom Confit, Grilled Onion, and Black Kale
I really enjoyed this dish which we chose from their regular menu.
Another item ordered from the menu was the…
Lamb Belly, Lamb Taro Spuma, Blue Barley Flour, Arugula Chimmichurri, Turnips
Another dish that was good but not good enough to be one of our favorites.
But the next item that we chose from the Dim Sum cart was a favorite of mine…

Corn Johnny Cakes with Deer Creek Cheddar, Roasted Pork, Cabbage, and Creme Fraiche

Another dish from the Dim Sum cart was among my sister’s favorites…

Parsnip Custard with green emmer on the bottom

Next came a dish from their menu that was our Overall Favorite Dish of the evening…

Pork Carnitas, Guanciale, Pickled Pico de Gallo, Hominy Broth

It was served with White Sonoran Roti…

We all agreed that this was delicious!  There is a similar dish on the current Emmer & Rye (April 2017) menu, only short rib (beef) rather than pork carnitas.

Our final selection from the Dim Sum cart came next…

Red Fife Brioche filled with Berkshire Sausage, Cabbage, and Deer Creek Custard

And a look inside…

This was good but not among our favorites.

While our next dish looks pretty plain and boring…

Blue Beard Durum Spaghetti ‘Cacio E Pepe,’ Challerhocker Cheese, and Dandelion Greens

…it was actually very good and among my niece’s favorites.

To my surprise, I did not though like our next pasta dish…

Emmer Strozzapretti, Confit Pork, Cabbage, Kale, and Lemon

While all of its ingredients sounded good to me and it looked good, I did not like this dish.

The next pasta dish was also a fail for us…

White Sonoran Angel Hair, Garlic, Oregano, Basil, Mint, and Pecorino Sardo

This was way too salty, so much so that we actually sent it back and it was removed from our bill.

And that just leaves dessert, or actually desserts because we chose two to share.  The first was…

Peach Leaf Ice Cream, Warm Brioche Spuma, pecans, chocolate cookie crumbles, and roasted strawberry

The brioche spuma (foam) was like vanilla pudding.  The peach ice cream tasted more like amaretto than peach.  But even though the menu descriptions didn’t seem to quite match up, this dessert was very good.

And our second dessert choice was also very good…

Panna cotta, honeycomb, pecan granola, black sapote persimmon

So though there were several hits, but there were also some misses.  That combined with the fact that our expectations going in were very high due to the restaurant’s award winning status, resulted in our dinner at Emmer & Rye receiving only 4 stars.  Though Yelp reviewers agreed with us, Emmer & Rye fared better on Trip Advisor receiving 4 1/2 stars and #97 best ranking of the Austin restaurants reviewed.  Also Yelp ranks Emmer & Rye #59 on their top 1000 list of Austin’s best restaurants.

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