The name of a restaurant is the gateway to attracting new patrons. When I first heard about Culinary Dropout, I was automatically curious to learn what the hype was all about. This American gastropub opened its fifth location last November; there are also three in Phoenix plus one in Las Vegas. CEO Sam Fox selected Austin as its newest stomping grounds due to the city’s live music atmosphere and young vibe.
Culinary Dropout is not your average restaurant at the Domain Northside shopping center. There is a Texas-sized covered patio with a designated play area sprinkled with ping-pong tables, foosball, and cornhole toss. Directly across the bar is a permanent stage where local bands play four days a week.
Executive chef Joe Prior creates lively dishes with a fine-dining energy. Well known for its fried chicken, Culinary Dropout also has a vast selection of wines and almost 50 types of beers on tap and in cans, as well as creative house cocktails — one of the bestselling drinks is El Matador, a fascinating concoction of Gran Centenario Añejo, elderflower, ginger agave, and fresh orange bitters.
I was fortunate enough to interview restaurant manager Curtis King, and he is very proud to call the eatery a from-scratch kitchen where breads, vinaigrettes, and sauces are made in house. It serves regionally sourced ingredients directly from local farmers and purveyors as often as possible.
The featured dish is a customized charcuterie board: prosciutto, deviled eggs, Beemster goat cheese, dolce gorgonzola, and Korean Brussels sprouts. These unattractive vegetables were beautifully transformed to a perfect crisp with mustard crème fraîche and fresh herbs. It used to be that our mothers forced us to eat vegetables — but this one I would gladly eat every day.