Tag Archives: eating out in Austin

Happy Hour doesn’t get any simplier than this

3 Dec

One evening I decided to stick close to home and called up my good friend Melissa Skorpil, who also lives in my hood, to join me for a happy hour.  We decided to check out Simplicity Wine and Eats, one of the fun establishments on Burnet Rd.  We showed up at 5:30 and the place was pretty empty.  But that soon changed and as the sun went down, the atmosphere went up.  Nostalgic tunes from Depeche Mode were playing overhead, though not too loud so we could actually hold a conversation – what a concept.  Folks started filing in, with a  group of about 15 lively people pushing tables together to create their own party.  Simplicity has a modern and simplistic feel to it, nothing pretentious.  It lacks a little in style compared to other wine bars I’ve been to, but is very comfortable and functional. 

The one thing that I admire about this place and helps it stand out from the crowd is their philosophy of creating an almost zero waste restaurant.  On their website they state that “we compost all of the disposable dishes and utensils (made of renewable corn & bamboo) & we recycle all our wine and beer bottles. Simplicity is a 100+ seat restaurant that only produces 3 bags of landfill trash per week!”  Really??  That is amazing to me because I know of a two person household, well…really a two person, two cat, two dog, two turtle and one gecko  household, who produces about the same amount!  So either they are really eco-friendly or we, um, I mean the other people, are completely wasteful.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say both are probably the case.  But I digress…

The point is that Simplicity is really trying to do their part in helping the environment and I can really get behind that idea.  Their happy hour is Tuesday through Friday, 4 to 7 pm, and offers half off of all starters, $5 wines by the glass, 15% off of all bottles of wine, $2 for all bottles or drafts of beer and $5 pitchers.  We opted for a pitcher of Blue Moon, which is the equivalent of 3 beers for only $5.  That is pretty darn cheap!  We also got a couple of appetizers, the spinach artichoke dip and papas aioli (thick cut potato wedges with garlic aioli dip).  The food here doesn’t have a decadent appearance since it is served in disposable bowls and plates with disposable utensils, but the dip was very fresh tasting and the potatoes were yummy.  The prices are very reasonable and really fantastic during happy hour – our pitcher of beer and two starters cost up a whopping $11!  Seriously.

Simplicity Wine and Eats

photo by Melissa Skorpil

Melissa and I had a great time and we both agreed that Simplicity Wine and Eats is worth coming back to.  Melissa, who is a photographer, brought along her camera and took a shot of me enjoying the beer.  Melissa is a great photographer and she specializes in portraits and food photography-handy for me to have a food photographer as a friend for this blog, eh?  If you’re interested in learning about Melissa’s photography services, view her website, Skorpil Photography.

Until next time, get happy Austin!

Simplicity Wine & Eats on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Happy Hour at 34th Street Cafe

28 Nov 34th st cafe
34th st cafe

34th Street Cafe

My next stop in my search for a great happy hour is this unassuming place in central Austin called 34th Street Cafe.  Located near the corner of Lamar Blvd and 34th st, the lime green exterior suggests a funky, casual eatery.  But take a step inside and the place exudes a much more elegant and upscale ambience.

Their happy hour is Monday – Friday from 5 to 7 pm and offers half off all appetizers, a dollar off of all their beers and half off all bottles of sparkling wine.  I wasn’t in a beer mood so I enjoyed a glass of wine instead.  But we did partake in the appetizers and they were delicious!

They don’t have a huge selection for appetizers, but what they do have is done very well.   We first ordered the duck confit hash, which consisted of thin slices of duck meat cooked until crispy with cippolini onions, frisee (also called curly endive-those light green, squiggly lettuces that look like they should be at the bottom of the ocean) with a fried egg on top.  This is one of those dishes that I wouldn’t think I would like as much as I did.  The crispness of the meat with the softness of the egg was really tasty.  Normally a $10 appetizer, it’s a really nice treat for 5 bucks at happy hour.

Next up were the sweet potato fries.  These aren’t considered an appetizer, they’re listed as a snack, and therefore are not part of the happy hour special.  But hey-they’re also only 5 bucks and gosh-darnit, we felt like fries!  They were thick, fluffy and very seasoned, a little spicy and a little sweet.  Yum.

Then came the lump crabmeat croquettes, which were three round crab cake balls each poised on top of a spoonful of avocado creme fraiche- which to me is a fancy way to say guacamole.  It was tasty but not fantastic, mostly due to the fact that there was a fair amount of breading lumped in with the lump crabmeat.  I  lived in Maryland for a few years and love crab, so when I see “lump crabmeat” I’m expecting most of the lumps to consist of crab.  But that’s just me.  At happy hour it’s $6, normally $12.

Last on the list was the Tuscan pizza.  The crust was thin, slightly crispy and buttery and it was topped with mushrooms, roasted garlic and mozzarella with mounds of ricotta.  At happy hour it’s $6 and a nice personal size that is also good for sharing.

Another idea I want to mention is their Prix Fixe Dinners they have every Monday and Tuesday from 5 pm to close.  We didn’t partake in this (this time) but it looked like a really good deal.  It’s a three course tasting dinner and included a glass of wine-all for $24 per person!  By “tasting dinner” I am assuming the portions are smaller and since we didn’t order this, I can’t comment on the size of the portions.  But the menu offered that night sounded interesting-tuna tartare was the amuse, which I just learned (like right this second, thanks Google) means small samplings of food served before a meal to whet the appetite and stimulate the palate.  The appetizer was a salt cod and the entrée was a pork loin with black-eyed peas and winter greens.  The wine choices were a French Chardonnay and an Italian Sangiovese.

I found the quality of the food at 34th Street Cafe to be very good, though there weren’t an extensive array of choices at happy hour prices.  The dishes were thoughtfully prepared and the setting had a certain romance to it.  If you are looking for a joint to get a little rowdy with your buds for a drink after work, this would not be the place.  But if you’re wanting a quieter setting or a relaxing evening with the girls over a glass of wine, this is a good place to be.

34th Street Cafe on Urbanspoon

%d bloggers like this: