219 West: One of Austin's Great Hangouts for Tapas and Brews
A while back, our friends at Crave Communications invited us to the opening of 219 West's new home. Of course, we just couldn't say no, it's the kind of sacrifice we make for our loyal fans! Needless to say, we were impressed. So impressed that we decided to go back for a full review. The first thing to know about 219 is how their menu works. Most restaurant menus are set up in a pretty standard fashion — appetizers, entrées, desserts, and drinks are thrown in there somewhere. At 219, they have a separate wine list as well, but the rest of the menu is set up according to drink pairings. You have your wine page, your scotch page, your julep page, and your beer page. Each page starts with appetizers (called American Tapas in this case), entrées, desserts, and drinks. I ordered off of the beer menu, but Dave opted to pick and choose from a couple of sections.
Here's what I had from the Beer Page:
1. Chipotle mac and cheese as a starter
2. Barbequed pork and fried potatoes
3. Independence Austin Amber to drink
Mac and cheese has always been one of my favorites and this one was a nice way to start a meal. Plenty of cheese and with nice, spicy chipotle sauce on top, this is as good a mac and cheese as I have had. The portion size is easily big enough for a meal or a filling appetizer for two. I actually brought some home.
The barbequed pork was also very nice. Fork tender, and full of smoky flavor with a sweet sauce, and served with fried fingerling potatoes.
Independence Amber is a clean, refreshing brew from one of the better local breweries. I'd recommend it with almost any meal.
David opted for a little trip around the menu. Here's a look at what he had:
1. Fried calamari steak fingers from the wine page
2. Lamb tenderloin from the scotch page
3. (512) Pecan Porter to drink from the beer page
Calamari is a tricky piece of seafood to work with. It needs to be cooked either very, very quickly or for a very long time. If you hit any point in the middle, you end up with a piece of inedible rubber with all the flavor of an old tire. This calamari ranks among some of the best I've had. A nice crunchy breading with tender squid in the middle. Well worth trying.
Lamb is one my favorite meats, second only to goat. David ordered his medium rare, and it was cooked perfectly. A nice sear on the outside and tender, flavorful, medium rare meat on the inside. Fans of lamb will appreciate this one. It also came with a side of whipped potatoes and some delicious Brussels sprouts. I have become a fan of Brussels sprouts over the last year or so (I sauté mine in bacon fat) and these did not disappoint. They had a nice tender, yet still crisp texture and a great flavor. If, like me, you have always cringed at the thought of them, these might just change your mind.
Lastly, David had the (512) Pecan Porter. It’s a nice heavy ale capable of standing up to the big flavors of this meal. (512) is also a local brewery, and one of our favorites.
Whether you plan on eating a whole meal or just dropping by for some drinks and appetizers, we highly recommend 219 West.