Eating Well in Austin Without Breaking the Bank

Jeffrey's (Photo By John Anderson)


1204 W. Lynn, 477-5584

Sun-Thu, 6-10pm; Fri-Sat, 5:30-10:30pm

Jeffrey's Executive Chef David Garrido and Chef de Cuisine Alma Alcocer Thomas made national news when they were flown to Washington, D.C., to cook for President Bush's inaugural ball. Ensconced in the Watergate Hotel kitchen, the two Austin chefs deftly seeded habaneros and chopped cilantro to the general acclaim of D.C.'s most influential power brokers. What was for Washingtonians the hottest meal ticket in town on Jan. 20 can be had by Austinites any night at the comfortable little eatery in Clarksville. Consistently rated as one of Austin's finest restaurants, Jeffrey's chefs Garrido and Thomas have wedded classical techniques to Southwestern flavors, producing a sophisticated American cuisine that playfully flirts with exotica. This, combined with their commitment to using only the freshest ingredients, has put Jeffrey's at the vanguard of fine dining in Austin. Fried gulf oysters and habanero aioli that explode on the tongue like spicy salt water balloons, airy salads featuring crisp, locally grown organic field greens, fresh fish flown in daily from the Pacific Northwest, or lamb that buzzes around a fragrant orange flan and guajillo mole. These are the tempting creations that seduced our current president, and continue to charm diners all over Central Texas.

Two fixed-price menus are added to the carte at Jeffrey's. Their $50 menu features a can't-miss four-course meal that generally includes Jeffrey's oft-requested fried oysters, a salad, and a beef course. These are followed by the dessert du jour, which is very often a flavored variation of the ever-popular crème brûlée. Orange hibiscus, cappuccino, or ginger are frequent companions to this essential sweetened custard.

Those who find this basic fixed price menu too pedestrian can shift to a higher gear with Jeffrey's second tasting menu. Not for the faint of appetite or for the faint of pocketbook, this $75 dollar menu includes five courses of toothsome rarities. The meal might begin, for instance, with Osetra caviar perched atop a delicate chive blini served with a dollop of crème fraîche and a shot of frozen stoli. Subsequent courses generally incorporate an assortment of equally tonied foodstuffs -- giant sea scallops, smoked salmon, foie gras, truffles, and game -- winding down with Jeffrey's wildly popular chocolate intemperance, a devilish brownie dessert covered in chocolate ganache, and richly decorated with gold-dusted berries. Although the menus change almost daily, you can expect similar sorts of courses on each edition. For instance, the $75 menu almost always features either lamb or wild game with the main course, and both menus usually include some variation of salad. Jeffrey's is one of the more popular places in town, so reservations are advised.

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