Located in the heart of downtown Austin, Péché offers fine French fare and New Orleans-inspired cuisine. This award-winning upscale restaurant’s name means “sin” in French, and as Austin's first absinthe bar, Péché has an envious cocktail menu that consists of over 60 liquid concoctions to indulge from. Enjoy pre-prohibition cocktails such as the classic Negroni – a mixture of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. I challenged the master bartender to create a sweet berry-infused cocktail. Moments later, I was introduced to the gin bramble. Although not listed on the menu, it was a coupe glass filed with a secret icy purple cocktail garnished with a curly lemon peel. The first sip perked me up and surely woke up my five senses. It was a refreshing drink, but not one of those cocktails to then volunteer yourself as the designated driver.
A former leader of a Michelin-starred restaurant, executive chef John Lichtenberger graduated from the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan. His dazzling multi-course dinner was a series of artistic masterpieces. Start with an order of escargot drizzled in garlic, herbs, and butter. The charcuterie board was assembled of house-cured meats, bread, and pickles. For a heartier meal, choose the braised short ribs with duck fat mashed potatoes, wild mushroom, and jus. My personal favorite was the grilled Niman Ranch pork chop Normandy. This dish was served with Brussels sprouts, onions, lardons, and apple cider vinaigrette. Lichtenberger is well known for his smoked salmon tartare recipe, and this indulgent appetizer pairs nicely with your favorite wine. Conclude dinner with a traditional crème brûlée or the New Orleans favorite bananas foster. Popular for late night eats, Péché opens daily at 4 p.m. and closes as late as 2 a.m.
I spoke with the restaurant owner, Robert Pate. Pate, who insisted on being called Rob, was a very enthusiastic character and proud to be considered a pioneer in the Austin food scene.
The Daily Meal: In what genre would you consider Péché?
Robert Pate: I consider Péché a bistro serving pre-prohibition cocktails. Quality is key. It is very important that we serve simple things done well.
Why did you become interested in focusing on pre-prohibition cocktails?
The bar is my passion and expertise. I have traveled around the world to gain the knowledge to preserve the genuine absinthe experience. Austin can now taste these alcoholic drinks that used to be banned in the United States. What used to be an underground movement is now a cool place to be.