I was delighted to hear about a brand-new restaurant in Austin called Bacon – and really, not because I love bacon more than I love hundreds of other foods. And certainly not because the more “creative” of our chefs here in Texas have taken to doing some really weird things with the stuff, using molecular gastronomy tricks to turn it into everything from foam atop fish to ice cream for dessert. No, I simply loved the sheer audacity of it all.
Turns out, this audacity was also what first attracted co-owner Reid Reynolds and GM Jesse Fincher. I sat down to record radio with the two guys last night, and came away impressed not only with the foods I sampled but with their commitment to quality. After all, if you’re going to have a name with only one food product in it, you’d better make sure that food product is the best. The bacon is excellent at Bacon, I’m happy to report – turning up in several forms and several flavor profiles in dish after dish after dish.
One of my favorites here is the chicken and waffles, which more days and nights than not is a huge seller. Still, you might gaze at the plate for a long time (as I did) and then ask, “Where’s the bacon?” Turns out, somebody in the kitchen had the bright idea of stirring crumbled bacon into the waffle batter – which leaves your “hands free” to enjoy the excellent waffle with butter and syrup the way we remember from childhood, plus some of the crispiest, most flavorful fried boneless chicken breast we’ve tasted in a long time.
It’s true: nobody ever made me hate them by giving me a burger. And not only does this burger feature crispy, smoky-sweet bacon on top of the meat and molten cheese but the patty itself is something called a “double-grind.” This is apparently cookspeak for a burger made by grinding beef along with pork belly – as you probably know, the cut of pork from which bacon is sliced. At Bacon, they’re not exactly reinventing any wheels. As Reynolds told me, they’re “just putting some extra air in the tires.”
If you like pork belly, then you’ll love Bacon’s version of the Reuben. What’s that, Reuben sandwiches are made with corned beef, you say, with no pork belly in sight? That is true, traditionally, but the excellent Reuben here is made with pork belly brined just the way brisket typically is to produce what we call corned beef. After that, the sandwich is all classic, from the sauerkraut to the Russian dressing to the swirled, toasted slices of bread. Oh yeah, last night the Reuben came with broccoli on the side (only in Austin!), and that was mighty good too.
Here in Texas, you’d better not mention the b-word without whipping up some “bacon gravy” – a creamy production made from pan drippings. This gravy is extremely popular at the place called Bacon, showing up primarily poured over buttermilk drop biscuits with some shredded cheddar cheese and chives on top. It’s kind of like a loaded baked potato, except on a biscuit instead of a potato. The eatery called Bacon has proven quite popular in the four months it’s been open on the edge of downtown Austin. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have more than one location to enjoy in the months and years ahead.