Dear Glutton

Seeing red

Jeffrey's (Photo by John Anderson)

Dear Glutton,

I'm a Republican stranded in the bluest part of Texas, and with the election talk heating up I could really use a conservative refuge where I can gather my thoughts and eat in peace with like-minded people. – Trying to Board the Trump Train

Dear TT,

Well, I should probably warn you, if you haven't guessed, that I'm crossing political lines here to help you out. I'm the exact kind of Austinite you probably hate, with my expensive farmers' market habit, omnipresent orthopedic Swedish clogs, and a bright red Texans for Bernie sticker on my reusable, Earth-friendly, BPA-free water bottle (so sue me, I'm full of liberal guilt and it's a great bottle). But in the interest of building bridges in a time when we're all going increasingly crazy over who's voting for whom, I'm gonna step in and help a brother out, ignoring my first instinct to snidely suggest you take yourself out for some Tex-Mex to celebrate the impending wall. Although, to be fair, you could do worse than pulling up a seat at the bar at Matt's Famous El Rancho, ordering a couple of margaritas, and plowing through a vast trough of their soul-numbingly rich Bob Armstrong dip in the interest of bipartisan collaboration.

I suspect that what you want here is a refuge, a quiet place with white napkins and dark wood where you can eat a slab of Texas-raised beef larger than your head and reminisce about the good ol' days, a place where you can drink an Old Fashioned (see what I did there?) without having some bartender run CNN in the background, where you can ignore the outside world for a few hours and immerse yourself in an environment of lush comfort. What you want is Jeffrey's.

I can't promise that anyone you'll encounter at Jeffrey's will also be voting for Trump. This is still Austin, after all, and I'm not a magician. But what you will find is one of the quietest, calmest dining rooms in the city, ornamented with a kind of warmth and softness you don't find very often in a restaurant scene obsessed with the three B's of minimalistic decoration: bare wood, bare bulbs, and benches. Jeffrey's menu may be locally sourced, but it's also charmingly traditional, with a focus on expensive ingredients prepared expensively – an approach to cuisine that is increasingly hard to find outside of the confines of fancy hotels, which inevitably will present you with a more heavy-handed interpretation of the classics presented here.

If you order carefully, start with some Devils on Horseback, say, or the wedge salad, then follow it up with one of their massive and carefully raised steaks with béarnaise sauce, and a chocolate soufflé – you could swear you've fallen into the best possible version of 1956 (for cripes' sake, they have a martini cart). A solitary meal at Jeffrey's is a chance to unite the charms of the old world and the new, to eat a slab of iceberg lettuce, sure, but iceberg lettuce that's probably biodynamically grown on a farm outside of Buda. Hopefully a few hours spent in that peaceful room will give you the chance to reflect on all the best parts of the old Texas, while welcoming in the new. Still not sure about the Trump thing, though.

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Austin food, Jeffrey's, Matt's El Rancho

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