Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Austin Grill Food Review

Barbecue special

I used to work across the street from Austin Grill in Old Town Alexandria: They had a great happy hour... almost always packed. That was many moons ago; so it was with particular delight, that I returned to their Penn Quarter space for an impromptu pre-theater barbecue.

It was raining, but that didn't dampen the atmosphere inside (nor the noise level.) We were taken care of by super server Mr. (Edward) Carter, who couldn't have been nicer. He brought us chips and salsa... Great chips (fresh and crispy) but I'm amazed at the small amount of salsa they provide. Sure you can ask for more; but wouldn't it be easier to at least double the size of the container? While I'm at it, take it easy on the ice in the sodas... A few sips, and it was empty (save for the ice, which was all the way to the top of the glass.)

The menu has lots of choices: I went with their barbecue special (three each of Austin Wings, Baby Back Ribs and Texas Brisket for $17.99.) It was Friday night, and we had to wait about 15 minutes for our orders... Usually not a big deal; but we had a show around the corner at 8. Our table was sticky in spots, and looked old and battered. The noise was downright brutal... definitely better for drinking, than eating.

Complimentary chips & salsa

Our food arrived, and Edward made sure we were 100% happy with everything. Service was great; but I'd be telling tales if I told you my plate looked appetizing. For starters, it was covered in thick, sugary barbecue sauce... Covered. This includes the cole slaw, which was buried under the Texas brisket. When I tried it, it didn't take long to cover it again: Quite possibly, the driest, worst slaw I've ever had. Fries were few, but good enough. The brisket was pretty darn good, although fatty. Ditto for the ribs, which tasted nice (but again, had more fat than I prefer.) Three wings isn't much, and left a lot to be desired (dry, with little meat.) Worst of all, it was hard to taste anything besides the glaze/sauce.

With Hill Country less than a block away, I couldn't help but feel underwhelmed. Note: In the future, I recommend sticking to Austin's fajitas and taco plates. It's also a little pricey, although the strong service helped offset that to a degree. Not terrible, but far from ideal.