Eating Out: Barley Swine & Lick Ice Cream (Austin, TX)

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It’s been over a week since we left Austin, but in my mind, I’m still there, eating my way through the city with my friends.

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Want to see what we ate for dinner — just a few hours after finishing up our fantastic lunch at Elizabeth Street Cafe? Then let’s grab some plutonium and fire up the flux capacitor. Hop into my DeLorean, and we’ll travel twelve days back in time to relive my dinner at Barley Swine and dessert at Lick Ice Cream. (No, it wasn’t perfectly Paleo, but neither am I.)

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Ready to accelerate to 88 miles an hour?

Barley Swine is Mel and Dave’s special-occasion restaurant, and they’re two of my favorite tastemakers, so I knew it had to be amazing. Plus, Chef Bryce Gillmore was named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in 2011. Oh, and you have to start lining up at 4:30 p.m. — a half-hour before the restaurant opens — to nab a seat. Clearly, we weren’t the only ones who were looking forward to Barley Swine’s grub.

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As soon as we were seated, Mel made sure we all got our own miniature rubber spatulas so we could scrape off and savor every last drop of saucy goodness from the serving plates. We’re serious about our food, people.

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The menu at Barley Swine consists of eight savory small plate offerings, three desserts, two specials on the blackboard, and an opportunity to buy a round of beer for the kitchen.

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For our table of five adults and two kids, we decided to order everything on the menu, plus multiples of our favorite dishes. And I mean E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.

Take a gander:

First up were two orders of grilled broccoli, cheese custard, almonds, and fermented chili foam. 

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Then, the server brought over a platter of roasted beets, bacon, honey mustard ice cream(!), and sauerkraut chips, which was so mind-blowingly good that we immediately ordered another plate of it.

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I loved the dish of steelhead trout, smoked roe, fennel cream, pine, and shiitake that came next…

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…and also the bright and flavorful poached cod, potato, leek, salt cod, and olive.

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Barley Swine certainly knows that we taste not just with our tongues, but also with our eyes and noses. The combination of flavors, colors, and textures of the dishes hit all the pleasure centers in our brains.

For example, can’t you almost taste this luscious plate of soft egg, parsnip, sesame, and fermented bean just by looking at it?

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Or this rich, succulent bowl of lamb sausage, bacon broth, turnip, barley, and mint?

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The unlikely juxtaposition of seemingly incongruous ingredients made each dish a surprise and delight, like this hearty portion of cow head, artichoke, caramelized white chocolate, and sunflower…

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…or this marriage of pig, crispy trotter, grilled face(!!), refried lentils, yogurt, and dates…

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The roasted brussels sprouts, chicken fried boudin, and grapefruit mixed heavy and light, creamy and crunchy, hot and cool…

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…while the duck, foie gras, strawberry, black trumpets, and nasturtiums were a wild mélange of colorful ingredients both savory and sweet.

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In keeping with our Paleo Bloggers Gone Wild theme, we eagerly tucked into dessert. I oohed and aahed over the plate of beet panna cotta, green olive, almond, and chocolate financiers…

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…though the Double-Os nabbed all the chocolate financiers. (My kids inherited my fast fingers, and I’m sure they’d make excellent pickpockets.)

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But that’s not all! We also shared a Meyer lemon tart with basil, quinoa granola, and roobios tea sorbet…

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…and a couple of bowls of cereal(!!!), strawberries, chocolate milk, and malted barley.

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Unfortunately, the Double-Os weren’t as keen on the “weird” dishes (aside from the desserts), but still managed to have a good time challenging Dave to Fruit Ninja duels.

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"In your face!" (This was uttered by Lil-O so loudly and vociferously that someone waiting in line for a table pointed at Dave and repeated the line when we left the restaurant.)

Don’t worry, we didn’t starve the kids. We fed ‘em a proper dinner afterward, but not before we got some ice cream first.

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It’s okay to prioritize dessert once in a blue moon, right?

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Yep, we’re all discussing how we need to start a Whole30 when the trip is over…not.

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No snarky comments, please. I’m still on vacation. (At least in my brain.)


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  1. paleointraining reblogged this from nomnompaleo and added:
    Quote of my New Life :) "(No, it wasn’t perfectly Paleo, but neither am I.)"
  2. nomnompaleo posted this