To most of us, having the last word typically means having the final say. In those classic moments when the words someone stated were so poignant that there’s simply nothing left to say, you know they have the last word – you can let them drop the mic and have their moment to shine.
In the case of Intero, the East Austin Italian restaurant focused on farm-to-table sustainability is, indeed, drop-the-mic good. When I described to our waiter that I’d like a “barkeeps choice” cocktail, he returned with The Last Word – a little-known prohibition-era cocktail that is subtle yet striking and not on the menu. It was just one part of a meal filled with ‘drop the mic’ moments.
The food at Intero is to be savored and much like the restaurant’s simple yet elegant décor – there are thoughtful touches throughout. The menu includes appreciation to the farms that co-owners Ian Thurwachter and Krystal Craig use and support yet goes one step further by also acknowledging the folks responsible for the artwork, plate ware, branding and even the carpenter who designed the chairs.
The new fall menu presents a dual celebration: a respectful closing of the summer season and the gracious welcoming of autumn. And therein lies the essence of Intero. There is an air of respect that emanates among the staff with a graciousness for the diners, the time spent enjoying a meal, and the farms and gardens that supply the food. Intero is true to its name, which is Italian for whole. The whole animal is used, and similar ingredients are innovatively used in different dishes with drop-the-mic nuance. Time and again we would taste and savor and refer back to the menu for the full description. Combinations such as burnt onion, walnut, beef fat hollandaise with butternut squash offered such pure freshness that we could even depict the subtleness of the lemon in the hollandaise.
Intero’s pastas would make Italy proud. Handmade and served in a style that every ingredient can be tasted – no one flavor overpowers another. The autumn menu features a spaghettini with fermented kale, cheddar and toasted garlic that delivers a symphony of flavors that make it easy to forget there are only four ingredients. In addition to duck on the entrée menu, there is a grilled pork neck, smoked quail and poached halibut to round out the difficulty of deciding what to order.
Krystal, the self-taught chocolatier delivers the final drop-the-mic moment by expertly bringing out the complexity of the cocoa without overpowering the pallet with flavors that are too sugary or sweet. And you’ll have options. You can enjoy a sipping chocolate, order a small plate of truffles or bark. When you realize that life is so much better with a smoked sea salt truffle, you can buy your favorites to take home where you can have the last word – Intero style.
Cover: Roasted Butternut Squash. Intero serves this small plate dish as part of their special autumn offerings. Photo Jenn Bono
Haven Lindsey resides in Austin, Texas. She is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience writing on topics including healthcare, addiction, public policy, education, travel, food and human interest stories.