Last night, the newest dine and drink addition to Congress Avenue opened its doors and let’s just say, I’ll be walking through them quite often. 2nd Bar + Kitchen is the first of the trio of concepts (known as Congress Austin) to open at the corner of 2nd and Congress Avenue under the lead of Chef David Bull, formerly of the Driskill. Our stellar waiter Chris described the cuisine as “natural”, as local ingredients are incorporated into the menu as well as natural ingredients, even down to the soda fountain with options that are naturally flavored and sweetened.
What I liked about 2nd Bar + Kitchen was that its name reflects the tone and the ambiance. It has a casual bar where patrons can claim a stool and meet up with a friend or date for a lighthearted experience. And, the word “kitchen” fits perfectly. Chalkboards with drink specials and the restaurant’s key players scribbled on it hanging just above the bar make the experience friendly and familiar, as do the napkins resembling modern kitchen towels, the slanted signage outside the establishment, and even the water jugs with the number “2″ printed on the outside that appear to be trickling down the bottle. I also think the prices are spot on. The appetizer dishes are priced very reasonably so that guests can easily order several to share without spending too much on Happy Hour. Even the entrees were priced just right, which plays into the casual environment where you can run in to grab a quick (yet very tasty bite) before a concert or walking around downtown for the evening.
The atmosphere is playful, but when it comes to the food + drink, this is serious business. I’ll take you through the incredible experience Allyson and I had last night as we worked our way through the menu, courtesy of Scott Walker, Vice President of Operations at Congress Austin.
We started off with these Black Truffle Pomme Frites with truffle dipping sauce. Absolutely incredible. They were just crispy enough, buttery, but not greasy, simply dusted with salt, and just melted in our mouths.
2nd Bar + Kitchen is the 2nd (coincidence?) location in Texas to feature wine on tap installed into the bar alongside the beer on tap selection! (The first was the Cowboys Stadium). Notice the 4 silver bars with a color on top of each of them. These are the four wines currently offered on tap at 2nd Bar + Kitchen by Silvertap. I tried the Cabernet Sauvignon and it was delicious! Wine on tap is an eco-friendly way to enjoy your glass of vino, since more wine fits into the kegs, meaning less distribution, gas, etc., the wine is preserved longer- the common problem of opened bottles spoiling before they’re finished is eliminated, and the kegs are reusable– reducing waste and the need to recycle glass bottles. When you stop in, give it a try! (Also notice the bowl of eggs atop the bar counter ready to be incorporated into a tasty cocktail.
Petit Green Salad was next with white beans, green beans, and a Clementine-Mustard vinaigrette– light and refreshing!
The Baked Ricotta and Goat Cheese spread with shallot confit and grilled bread was light, fluffy, and warmed the soul! This was waiter Chris’ favorite, and we were so glad we got to endulge. Simply delicious.
Check out the bartender shaking away with the chalkboard featuring the names of the 2nd Bar + Kitchen family up top.
Roasted salmon with arugula, feta, almonds, roasted eggplant, and basil pesto. The salmon was cooked perfectly, and my favorite part was the caramelized eggplant chip!
I love the concept of “bites” for dessert. If you just need a sweet something after your delicious meal, this is a great way to go.
The Pumpkin Molten cake with brown butter ice cream and caramel was just the perfect combination of flavors. The cake was fluffy, the pumpkin center was perfectly spiced, and the ice cream on top…just delightful! The perfect sweet ending to the first of many trips to 2nd Bar + Kitchen. Stop in for lunch or dinner or simply wine on tap and dessert. Like me, you’ll be saying “2nds, please!”.
*Thank you again to Scott, Jeff, and Chris for a lovely first experience!