The Good Knight

If ever an Austinite sent up a prayer for a civilized place to get both a decent cocktail and a decent meal, the Good Knight is the answer to that prayer

The Good Knight

1300 E. Sixth, 512/628-1250, www.thegoodknight.net
Daily, 5pm-2am; food until midnight
Restaurant Review
Photo by John Anderson

The Good Knight

1300 E. Sixth, 628-1250
Tuesday-Sunday, 5pm-2am, food until 12mid; Mondays, closed

The Good Knight is easy to miss as you drive down East Sixth; the sign is not particularly well-lit, and the restaurant is on the ground floor of a two-story brick building with a forbidding, Prohibition-era blind front. Part of the Good Knight's allure is its hidden-gem ambiance; it feels like an anachronistic neighborhood bar, kept secret by the locals. Parking is a breeze. The decor is Fifties dive-on-a-budget: stained plywood partitions, good quality chairs and tables, and very dim lighting. It reminds me of the nightclub where Dorothy Vallens performs in the movie Blue Velvet, a theatrical version of the 1950s, not unlike a movie set.

It's also a perfect place to wear your vintage cocktail dress. The Good Knight specializes in cocktails and boasts a comprehensive and absolutely fun list of house specialties including Pimm's Cup and Grasshopper, along with the more mainstream Harvey Wallbanger, Sidecar, Manhattan, and Old Fashioned. The cocktails are $6, $7, and $8, making this a very popular watering place, as the quality of the mixology is superb, and the price is right! Six rotating, select draft beers are also available, as is wine; there's a strong sense, however, that the wine is intended to be enjoyed with the food.

The food here is anachronistic, as well: It is extremely good, even though you are in a bar. The focus is tight: The menu is a mere 14 items, and substitutions are not encouraged. Though the menu has been described as "rustic Conti­nental," it's actually a mixture of classic Amer­i­can dishes, such as chicken potpie and meat loaf, and Gallic ones such as pâté and mush­room caviar. But everything is prepared with such skill and with such superfresh, locally sourced ingredients, that it seems Cont­i­nent­al. It is the opposite of "bar food"; it is cuisine.

There is but one salad ($6.50): an airy pile of achingly fresh, tender local greens, tossed with house-made butter croutons, cashews, and pickled mushrooms, dressed with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. I knew once I tasted it that everything I was going to eat that night was going to be wonderful; it is a perfect salad. There is only one soup, as well ($7), a soup of the day that changes with the seasons; this evening it was a hearty lentil and vegetable. The fried tomatoes ($7.50), a large appetizer featuring thick slices of breaded red and green tomatoes, crisply fried and reposing in a small pool of garlic aioli, is the best version of this Southern favorite I have yet experienced. The popular chicken potpie ($10.50), a sturdy bowl of thyme-seasoned chicken, Yukon Gold potatoes, mushrooms, and carrots suspended in thick gravy, is topped with whisper-light, golden puff pastry. The meat loaf ($12), made of pure Angus beef and topped with whiskey gravy, is accompanied by rich, dense mashed potatoes and the perfectly cooked vegetable of the day, a carrot and kale mixture that was just as good as, well, everything else on the menu. There are two desserts: an Earl Grey-infused chocolate pots de crème ($6) and a crustless buttermilk coconut pie with blue­berry compote ($5). I chose the pots de crème, and it was dense and creamy, with deep chocolate flavor and just a dab of fluffy white hard sauce on top.

There is a definite sense that the kitchen purposefully limits itself to what chefs Christopher Concannon and Lisa Newmeyer know can be done consistently to perfection, even on a busy night. If ever an Austinite sent up a prayer that there might be a civilized place to get both a decent cocktail and a decent meal, the Good Knight is the answer to that prayer.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

The Good Knight, Pimm's Cup, Grasshopper, chicken potpie, meat loaf, Christopher Concannon, Lisa Newmeyer

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