Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Destination Austin: South Congress Cafe
Austin is an odd place. Having my fill of Brooklyn hipsters, I was somewhat dreading the people I'd meet in this Portland of the South. Yet, my expectations weren't met in the negative at all. Everyone has been exceedingly friendly and leading productive lives as contributing members of society. Also, having not spent any significant time in Texas before, I was expecting much more of the stereotypes of this Red state. There are no cowboy hats and boots here. No rodeos or plate-sized steaks. If anything, Austin seems fiercely democratic, and the independent nature of the state is reflected in its non-conformist population.
Being the small town with the urban feel, I knew the food in Austin would be worth a trip in itself. My friend, with whom I was staying, showed me just how eclectic the cuisine could be with our first meal at South Congress Cafe. Congress is a main North-South drag through Austin, with much of the iconic Austin atmosphere South of the lake.
From the outside, as depicted in the photo above, I was expecting a steak and grits brunch. Instead, the menu is a gastronomically-forward selection of New American cuisine with game meats and Southwestern flavors. Opting out of the migas, the local favorite scramble topped with tortilla chips, I decided on the crispy quail sandwich with truffle remoulade. My buddy ordered a sky-high bloody mary and eggs benedict on crispy crab cakes topped with chipotle hollandaise.
While both dishes were delicious, the quail was not as flavorful as I expected. It relied a little too heavily on the remoulade to impart flavor. Eggs benedict is my favorite brunch dish and this was no exception. Crab cakes may be a little heavy in the morning, but I had to indulge on my visit.
South Congress Cafe
1600 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704