Any Austinite who has lived in the city for more than five years is quick to point out the negative impacts of recent growth. The traffic, the loss of live music venues, high rises on every corner.. (And, did we mention the traffic?)
But, one positive we can all agree on is the blossoming of Austin’s food scene. What was once a town scraping by on cheap BBQ, Tex-Mex and burger joints now has a diverse food culture on par with some of the great foodie cities.
Today diners can head downtown to fancy restaurants that transform the simplest of dishes into the most luxurious experience. (Have you seen the size of the biscuits at Fixe?) Or head to North Austin to choose from the abundance of restaurants that combine kid-friendly atmospheres with gluten-free menus. But for the diners looking for the trendiest restaurants, East Austin—-with its farm-to-table meals in corrugated steel silos that look like they could have been tool factories in the not-so-distant-past—-is the place to be.
Far beyond I-35, The Brewer’s Table is the latest to join the surging East Austin restaurant scene. The restaurant and brewery opened in April with a “beer deserves some accolades too, damn it” attitude. More than a brewpub, the head brewer and executive chef collaborated to create a harmonious menu. Brewing byproducts such as yeast and spent grain are used as entree ingredients creating dishes like beer-grain falafel or hop leaf harissa, while food scraps like roasted sweet potatoes and beets are added into the wood-fermented beers. Not only does this create a seamless drinking and dining experience, it also helps the restaurant win even more hipster points by creating a sustainable, zero waste environment.
This new way of collaboration has not gone unnoticed. Locally, it’s been named Best Restaurant of 2018, Men’s Journal names its Vor Ort beer the Best Beer in Texas, and Food and Wine listed it among its 20 Craft Breweries Where Food Is A Bigger Draw Than The Beer.
Small plates include pork-free chicharrones, smoked swordfish salad, smoked beet toast and—-for the truly adventurous—-smoked rabbit carnitas with fermented mushroom, heirloom corn tortillas and pig blood mole. The real showstopper is the Shareable Feast where plate upon plate of grilled, smoked and charred beef, fish or vegetables fill the table.
No East Side restaurant worth its weight in avocado toast is complete without a weekend brunch. Sunday Fundayers can start their day with poached duck egg with smoked pastrami hash, black bean espuma and sweet pepper jam; pretzel croissant with beer cheese foam, heirloom tomato marmalade or banana pancakes with grilled banana, sunflower seed toffee and mesquite maple syrup.
As for the beers, the nine in-house lineup focuses on the versatility of lagers. Some standouts include Ideé Fixe – a Czech dark lager with black tea leaves and candied lemons – and Beets By Drew – a smorgasbord of beechwood-smoked barley, roasted beets and mint.
One thing is clear at this rising (or should that be risen?) star of Austin’s East Side, nothing has been left on the table at Brewer’s Table.
Jennifer Simonson is an Austin-based journalist, writer and photographer.