W o w.
I walked away from my dinner at Lonesome Dove Western Bistro amazed at not only the level of presentation and creativity, but the way it confidently urged me to try things I’ve never had a desire to: Rattlesnake. Elk. Kangaroo.
Chef Tim Love opened his flagship restaurant in downtown Austin at the end of June, featuring both Lonesome Dove classics (the original is in Fort Worth) and new, Austin-inspired dishes. The space, which was once the dark cavern Kenichi on 4th and Colorado, is brighter and calmer, with a rustic minimalism, a touch of urban lodge.
Love, who is known for his inventive preparations of both familiar and exotic meat, is a well-known and well-respected chef and shrewd businessman. Aside from his multiple restaurants and television appearances, he has founded a few crucial components in our local culture: in 2012, he founded Austin Food & Wine Festival. In short, he really knows food and he really knows people, and this is infused in his work.
The adventure at Lonesome Dove begins immediately: The Wild Game Fettine is the start of the menu, with a selection of cuts spit-roasted over open mesquite fire: Duck, Rabbit-Rattlesnake Sausage, Pistachios, and Quince; Elk, Pork Spinalis, Huckleberries, and Black Garlic; and Lamb, Quail, Texas Herbs,and Citrus-Chili Paste. Although they are sliver thin and dissolve on the tongue, the tastes are full and bold.
First, second, and main course offerings follow, such as Elk-Foie Gras Sliders with blueberry jam and Lamb Brisket Pazole Stew, Manchego, Swiss Chard, Hen Egg, as well as Hand Cut Steaks and sides. (We heard them singing the praises of a truffle mac and cheese but we didn’t get to try it at the time.)
The rabbit-rattlesnake sausage with mancheo rosti and crème freche is an addictive and beloved dish at Lonesome Dove—several servers congratulated me on that particular choice.
I can say without reservation that the Blue Corn-Lobster Hushpuppies were probably some of the best things I’ve ever tasted. A perfectly crispy exterior and the most luscious, creamy filling…I could eat them every day for the rest of my life and be perfectly content.
My main course was rabbit tenderloin with confit shepherd’s pie, and it was superb. The crust was everything crust should be: buttery and light.
Additional menu items include:
- Deviled Gulf Coast Blue Crabs with Lonesome Dove hot sauce
- Farro “Congee”with kale pesto, golden tomato, guanciale and citrus-herb salad
- Butter Lettuce with red chili-buttermilk vinaigrette, lardoons and pickled jalapeño
- Fideos with crispy soft-shell crawfish, Spanish chorizo and natural aioli
- Fireside Snapper En Papillote with summer vegetables, mint, Texas extra-virgin olive oil and lime
- Porcini-Crusted Spatchcock Guinea Fowl with savory local oatmeal and chimichurri
- Grilled Asparagus with citrus and toasted nori
· Burnt Carrots with Texas honey, meyer lemon and goat cheese
Oh! You almost left this piece without asking me about the cocktails:
The Jalapeno Cucumber Margarita (Love 22 Reposado tequila, jalapeño, cucumber, Cointreau liqueur, house made margarita mix, salted rim and a lime wedge) is the right amount of snappy for a refreshing summer drink, and the Sarsaparilla Old Fashioned (Buffalo Trace Bourbon, cherry, orange and Sarsaparilla Root Beer,) has warmth but a light touch. The wine list is extensive (more than 3,000 bottles), featuring a collection of new world wines from California, Texas, and Oregon as well as France, Spain, and Italy.
Like the wine, every item is meticulously chosen and executed with care, and it shows. Dining at the Lonesome Dove is a vibrant, memorable experience.
By Megan Renart