the spot: Swift’s Attic 315 Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78701
the eats: Braised Pork Cheeks, Wagyu NY Strip, Parmesan and Mashed Potato croquette, frisee salad with fried goat cheese, Texas Shrimp and Grits, Churro with housemade ice cream
the bucks: $$$
the full nelson: an early pioneer of New School Austin cuisine that is firing off dishes worth going back for
When I moved to Austin in 2015(which seems like a lifetime ago) Swift’s Attic was on our radar of restaurants to try for a date night. My only regret was not going deeper into the menu. Well cut to 2023 and I found myself with that very opportunity. The short of it is this: a hard to define restaurant that ushered in a new era of dining in Austin and helped put the city on the map for coastal elitists(sadly like me) still has all the moves some 11 years later. Here is everything I ate.
I am a bourbon man and the Old Fashioned is my go to cocktail. I like to make them at home but most of time I settle for a big pour of bourbon with a large ice cube. Now, thanks to Swift’s Attic, I might switch that up and fill my ice cube tray with the Old Fashioned mixer. This method allows you to nurse a drink while the mixer melts into the cocktail. Word of advice: take small sips during the first few minutes or plan to take an Uber home.
The squid was a new entry on the menu that might still be under some R&D. In theory who wouldn’t want spicy fried squid but it should be a tad more crispy than the version I had. The squid was remarkably tender and of a good quality though and I wonder if it would be better served prepared more simply.
The little gem salad on the other hand was pretty darn perfect. Even during the colder months where salads play second fiddle to heartier fare, impeccably sourced produce becomes a crystal clear reminder of what makes fine dining special. I eat salads all the time at home and they ain’t nowhere in this league. Beyond the addictive green goddess dressing and the fried goat cheese crouton, the salad is great because that lettuce truly is a gem.
I’ll get this out of the way: the braised pork cheeks was the best dish of the night and the plate I would go back to time and time again. As far as the Texas Shrimp and Grits went, the blue corn was a unusual direction for grits, a denser and earthier one. The shrimp were big and juicy, with just enough of char to contrast the tender meaty center. You gotta love shrimp cooked perfect. That sausage link was as rich as it looks and it screamed Texas. Pro Tip: enjoy each bite of the sausage with the in house pickled peppers. I’d love to see a sausage and peppers sandwich with that link and those peppers and at a tailgate . . . that would be heavenly.
Sometimes going big with a steak can be disappointing. Maybe that’s because I’m not averse to flipping a steak or two at home. Sometimes the disappointment can come from a Wagyu steak that maybe just doesn’t live up to the name or more importantly the price tag. Well, I will say this: since I was treated to this meal I can’t say it if it justified the price but goddamn that was a good steak. I was surprised at how satisfying I was and btw I had racked up a few bites already.
Things went from great to stellar when I had a I bite of those mashed potato and parmesan croquettes. While the steak came with a Tagliatelle tossed with lump crab in a compound butter, I thought that steak’s best friend was that potato croquette. That I can assure you is worth whatever they charge. In a word: addictive.
This churro with housemade Dulce de Leche ice cream, housemade cinnamon toast crumple and dueling sauces looks like a dish that could win a food competition show. I’m not the biggest sweet tooth but I’ve had darn excellent desserts and the dessert program at Swift’s Attic lives up to the decade long run they have had.
On the surface Swift’s Attic might not be the picture of Old School Austin dining. But given it’s run and the fact that it seems to be firing on all cylinders, it might be the place people will talk about in 20 or 30 years from now. Be on the lookout for a special burger night as well.