the spot: Provision 4200 B W. Braker Lane Austin TX 78759
the eats: A special tasting menu paired with Old Forester Bourbon
the bucks: $0 – sorry kids, perks of the life. This was a complimentary dinner. Typical avg entree price is $30 at the restaurant
the full nelson: a lesson that when you drink heavy hitting bourbon, you deserve heavy hitting proteins
Recently I had the pleasure of attending a bourbon tasting menu prepared at a new restaurant in Austin called Provision, sponsored by Old Forester. Now tasting menus aren’t exactly typical fare at Bang for your Burger Buck but indulgence in rich foods certainly is. Besides, you can learn a lot from fancy meals too and who knows, you might even find a tip or two here the next time you hit up a primo restaurant and have to decide on whether to get the surf or the turf.
The correct answer is “both” in case you were wondering.
The meal went down in 6 courses. The very first was a brittle bar served at cocktail hour. Naturally I scarfed the thing before I had the chance to take a pic but the fat of nut brittle pairs especially well with the spice from the Serrano pepper. FYI this is not the brittle you would give your kid, because of the considerably noticeable heat from the pepper. It’s extra fun with a bourbon in your hand. But then again, what isn’t?
Once we were seated, the squad laid out the first course, snapper crudo. Like sashimi or ceviche, crudo is raw fish that is dressed in a mix citrus and oil. Here Alberto Gonzalez worked with a pastrami spice. The spice was subtle and while idea of pastrami meets sashimi sounded intriguing, I was happy for a lovely light start to what would be a heavy meal.
It didn’t take long for the meal to get down and heavy with these lamb ribs. I love lamb, I love lamb fat and I know my loves aren’t for everyone. Still I have to point out that these were a bit chewy. Totally acceptable in less formal dinners, in this case, a dish that could use more work. The juices on the plate were divine.
Next up was a ratatouille. I’ve generally enjoyed this French vegetable stew cold and as a hearty topping over grilled lamb. It was nice to have it on its own. I was pacing myself but I must share that my dining companion seated to my right, Erin Russell, called me out for not finishing my plate. She was a fan and vegetarians should note that this hearty vegetable stew stands up well to bourbon.
The meal lead up to this: surf and turf. The surf is easy enough to point out,:a Wagyu steak cooked to a cool medium rare. I’ve been on a bit of a Wagyu bender lately and believe me, the hype is real. The meat possesses flavors that seasonings can’t capture. I want to say a little goes a long way to up sell the higher cost but it doesn’t. It is better than your average beef, that’s for sure.
The surf was a Gravlax smoked salmon that was dwarfed in size and flavor intensity by the steak. I was surprised at just how perfectly roasted the fingerling potatoes were and what a joy it was to drag the potato through the jus on the plate. A true joy of fine dining is when the same care that goes into a properly steak also goes into what some would overlook as “just a side dish” Well, done Provision.
And finally a little chocolate black out cake to shut the night down. It seems like a classic pairing but it has been awhile since I have had raspberry sauce with rich chocolate. It is a fabulous combination indeed.
Ok, so beyond showing off all these fancy courses I want share with you a couple take aways that will serve you well the next time you are dining out at a premium restaurant and are thirsty for bourbon.
- classics like a good steak should always be strongly considered when choosing a dish to pair with a heavy drink like Bourbon.
- If you are a vegetarian and are looking for dishes that can stand up to bourbon, hearty vegetarian stews are a great way to go
- Dark rich chocolate desserts are just as awesome with bourbon as they are with a heavy red wine like Zinfandel
Special props to Old Forester and Campbell Brown who entertained my questions and shared stories about his family’s time in the bourbon business which happens to be five generations deep. Oh and for the record, the 1920 Old Forester is a remarkable bottle of bourbon, if you find it and have $60 to spare, you won’t be sorry.