Fine dining at reasonable prices is a rare combination and an unusual find for the connoisseur on a budget. In Austin – where the number and quality of eateries is features large and varied selection – finding that unusual gem of quality at a decent price can be an overwhelming task. That’s why we were so glad to find Second Bar + Kitchen Domain NORTHSIDE.
The Brainchild of former Bar Congress mastermind Chef David Bull, Second Bar + Kitchen has always been a restaurant unique in its focus of providing a fine dining experience at reasonable prices, while retaining quality and service.
After Second Bar + Kitchen’s wildly successful run at it’s original location, plans began for an expansion of Second Bar + Kitchen to the Domain and Austin Bergstrom International Airport. Visiting Second Bar + Kitchen Domain NORTHSIDE proved a delicious exercise in rich flavors.
I began with cocktails from a wide selection of common and unusual drinks. On a cocktail recommendation from the waiter, I tried the Gin & Jam, a mix of gin, lillet rose and a spoonful of Second Bar’s house strawberry jam. As someone who is not usually a fan of gin, I found this drink unique and delicious. The jam really masked what I usually find to be the sourness of gin, giving it more of a tart sugary flavor.
I also tried the Southern Bourbon Sour, in many ways a traditional comfort food -or drink, in this case. The bourbon was mixed with house peach comfort, mild ginger, and mint. The result was a smooth and tasty mix.
Gin & Jam; Photo by Phatfoodies
Southern Bourbon Sour; Photo by Phatfoodies
Soups & Appetizers
After imbibing two cocktails I was ready for something solid. I started off with smaller dishes first. The black bean soup was in presentation what could have easily been an elegant tea-time at a posh London hotel. Served in a tea-cup , the soup was a refreshing mixture of black beans, cilantro, radish and surprisingly, jalapeño. The result was a light and balanced starter and served as a natural transition from the cocktails to more solid delights.
Next I tried Second Bar + Kitchen’s signature truffle fries. Thick-cut, lathered with garlic and salt, these are easily my favorite fries in Austin. It was surely the cheese choice that made all the difference. A grana padano – Italian cheese, gingerly grated and salted.
A small plate of garlic and chive Gnocchi followed, with a side of pea puree and grilled asparagus. Again, the presentation was on point as were the rich flavors of the pea and asparagus mingled with the chives and garlic of the pasta.
Black Bean Soup; Photo by Phatfoodies
Black Truffle Pommes Frites; Photo by Phatfoodies
Garlic and Chive Gnocchi; Photo by Phatfoodies
The small plates kept coming and the quality and dedication seen in each dish did not falter in any way. The grilled coconut shrimp was laden with spicy and tasty jungle curry. While the veal meatballs arribata were also very flavorful with a bit of a kick as well. Despite wanting to try nearly everything on the menu, I needed to save room for Second Bar + Kitchen’s famous Congress burger.
Grilled Coconut Shrimp; Photo by Phatfoodies
Veal Meatballs Arrabiata; Photo by Phatfoodies
Hit ‘next’ to see the rest!
The Congress burger has quickly risen in the ranks as one of the best Burgers in town – as Burger-centric as Austin is, that’s saying something. The patty is a mix of ground brisket and chuck, with toppings that include shallot confit. The combination is nicely paired off gruyere and horseradish pickles. The burger did not disappoint – craftsmanship delivered on a large plate of thick flavors.
Congress Burger; Photo by Phatfoodies
Even though I’ve dined at Second Bar + Kitchen’s flagship location a few times, I wasn’t aware of how diverse the menu was. There is a rich verity of the types of food – from higher end appetizers to traditional pizza and burgers – but with an elegance and unique combination of ingredients. Second Bar offers five specialty pizzas which all cater to different tastes. The Pomodoro – with the essential san marzano tomatoes, fresh mozarella, and fresh basil-can be adapted to individual tastes. For a small fee, you can add Italian sausage, veal meatballs, and/or coppa. The base pie was quite good on it’s own, after trying the veal meatballs, I can say this pizza would work nicely with them added on.
Pizza Bianco; Photo by Phatfoodies
I’ll be honest and say I don’t have much of a pulse on soba noodles. Simply put, these buckwheat noodles are a Japanese staple, rounding out the diversity and variation of Second Bar + Kitchen Domain NORTHSIDE’s menu- their take on them was a a bit of a light fusion, and really tasty, with almond, roasted mushrooms, sprouts, and avocado. The braised beef short rib would round out the large plates, which was quite the encore-the beef itself was a tender cut cooked very well, while the black truffle grits were absolutely transcendent. I recommend trying the grits even if braised beef isn’t up your alley. They can be ordered as a side.
Soba Noodles and Sprouts; Photo by Phatfoodies
Braised Beef Short Rib; Photo by Phatfoodies
Chef David was incredibly accommodating as I advised him on my dining partner’s dietary restrictions. He was also available to make suggestions and appeared at our table to say hello.
Before the final large plates were even finished, we were presented with 2 desserts-the espresso pot de creme and the apple + brown butter cake. The espresso pot de creme came with an amaretto cookie, espresso crumble, and cherries all held together by a nutella and sea salt mix was rich and remarkable. The apple + brown butter cake was a nice take on pie a la mode, presented with creme fraiche sherbet and apple cider foam, topped with a toffee drizzle. Both were complete, delicious desserts.
Espresso Pot De Creme
Apple + Brown Butter Cake; Photo by Phatfoodies
Second Bar is reasonably priced. Smaller plates, pizzas and burgers range from 10$ to $20. The Congress burger costs $14 -well worth the price.
When next you take a visit to the Domain, I highly recommend you stop by Second Bar + Kitchen Domain NORTHSIDE. Tell Chef David I sent you.