Restaurant Review: Destination Dining Downtown

Austin is turning into quite a sophisticated bar town, and this one tops the list

Bar Congress

200 Congress, 512/827-2760, www.congressaustin.com/bar-congress
Tue.-Sat., 5pm-11:30pm
Destination Dining Downtown
Photo by John Anderson

Bar Congress

200 Congress
Tuesday-Saturday, 5pm-12mid
www.congressaustin.com

Bar Congress brings together three of Austin's top restaurant people – chef David Bull, sommelier June Rodil, and mixologist Adam Bryan – and gives them an intimate and elegant stage to show off their many talents. Lucky us!

Bryan is one of our very finest mixologists. Where most bars focus on speed, Bryan makes each cocktail individually and with great care. His Walker Manhattan ($12) is a dazzling blend of Michter's US 1 Straight Rye and Vya red vermouth. The Vya is the secret ingredient, adding intense aromas you just don't get in the normal $5-a-bottle vermouth. Asked what the house specialty was, our attentive waitperson recommended the Preferred Lies ($13). Its bergamot aromas come from Earl Grey-infused bourbon and were set off by delightful foam made from Canton ginger liqueur.

Bar Congress also has an ingenious wine list. Rodil, a past winner of Texas' Best Sommelier Competition, has put together a brilliant Euro-centric wine list. We enjoyed the hazelnut aroma of the Simon Bize & Fils Les Cham­plains white Burgundy ($14) and a palate-cleansing Guasti Clemente Cortese dell'alto Monferrato ($12). The bargain of the wine list is the Domaine Notre Dame des Pallières Rasteau ($11), a bold red that's perfect for the meats on the menu.

The final part of Bar Congress's hat-trick is delicious food from the ever-inventive Bull. As usual, he finds the perfect balance of innovation and informality. We went gaga over the veal meatball slider ($8), which also had sweetbreads and a hint of arugula. Fans of potatoes will like the beef short rib croquettes with Gruyère fondue ($12), a bundle of crispy and creamy pleasure with a hint of beef flavor. We also tried two large plates. The Thumbelina carrot ravioli ($18) is a delicate bowl of pasta pillows with carrot puree and distinct lemongrass aromas. The best dish of the night was Bull's short rib "Pot Roast" ($24) with a soft poached egg, celery root, and a touch of mascarpone.

Austin is turning into quite a sophisticated bar town, and Bar Congress belongs right at the top of your list of new places to try.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Food Reviews
Review: Peruvian Restaurant Llama Kid Is an Eastside Oasis
Review: Peruvian Restaurant Llama Kid Is an Eastside Oasis
Once a virtual concept, this modern take is really solid

Melanie Haupt, July 29, 2022

Restaurant Review: Birdie's
Restaurant Review: Birdie's
A neighborhood restaurant, for some

Melanie Haupt, May 6, 2022

More by Wes Marshall
Weekend Wine: William Chris Wines
Weekend Wine: William Chris Wines
Three Texas wines worth tasting this weekend

Sept. 2, 2022

Weekend Wine: Frey Vineyards Organic Sun & Rain Chardonnay
Weekend Wine: Frey Vineyards Organic Sun & Rain Chardonnay
American paradise makes for delicious wine

Aug. 5, 2022

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Bar Congress, David Bull, June Rodil, Adam Bryan, Texas' Best Sommelier Competition

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle