Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A Food Review: Justine's in Austin

I would like to share a food review I wrote at Yelp.com for Justine's, a French brasserie in east Austin. I like food, and I like writing, so Yelp competes for some of my mind share and time. Here's the review!

Justine's Review Link

We headed east on our quest for hyped and acclaimed French goodness. It was not so far east as Paris, but it was the kind of east that made us feel like we were on an adventure in a far-away land.

Our large party arrived for the early dinner seating. The little house featured expansive grounds, sparsely furnished and juxtaposed with the tiny dining room, claustrophobically furnished. In the light of day, the room was warm and airy and not yet crowded. I could feel a happy buzz in the air and in my head as a well-mixed Sidecar began to do its work.

What's not to like about classic French peasant food? French onion soup, duck leg, steak frites. Salt, butter, fat. Red wine. More salt and fat. The evening became a blur. I remember the conversation and mirth reaching a near roar as more and more people packed into the restaurant and bar. This was the place to be, and I expected to see one of those white-gloved Japanese subway attendants cramming more people through the front door.

The red wine flowed like water, aided by a generously cheap markup. Though we we're shoe-horned in to an impossibly small table, conversation was difficult above the rising din of wine-soaked bar-goers and diners. We found a way, and I remember laughing a lot. I remember being jealous of my brother's steak and and my wife's pork chop, but I had the last laugh. They neglected to order the French Onion soup, a gaudy soup that was almost too rich, but not.

I don't know how the waitstaff manages to actually service tables. The dining room is a like Bombay rush hour, and these waiters must be able to read lips to take orders. But they got it done for us with a minimum of fuss or errors.

I wouldn't say it was the best food I've ever eaten. My duck leg was perhaps a bit dry and over salted. Dishes were not complex or elegant. The whole was greater than the sum of the parts. Maybe it was the wine? Maybe it was the boisterous joyful ambience? Was it the good company? I don't know exactly, but it was good. And I'll be back.

1 comment:

KuKd Chick said...

That's interesting that the "whole" left you with a better impression than the individual parts. Funny how that works. I love classic French food too, so perhaps it was simply the classic French-ness of the whole affair (not to mention that joyful ambiance you mention) that made you enjoy your overall experience. That happens to me too.