Austin's has popped up quietly next to the Mt Erica Hotel, slowly replacing $15 parmas and steak specials with a surprisingly sophisticated tapas offering that speaks strongly of head chef Sunny Gilbert's time at Movida Next Door. The influence is obvious: but thankfully this tapas bar come casual restaurant is no mere copycat.
When we popped in to try the new menu, and were greeted with canned fish. Yep, I know that sounds weird, but any European worth his salt will swear by the amazing quality of this Mediterranean delicacy: served in-tin, we ordered the tuna belly accompanied by picked garlic slices and crispy wafers of bread. Sprinkle a little salt, and you have heaven on a crostini. Trust me.
Moving onto some share plates, we chose the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth mahon and leek croquetas, the juicy, salty mushrooms topped with parsley and garlic, a four-tomato salad that rocked my world, and the wagyu. Oh, the wagyu: perfectly pink, it's sliced and plonked onto a luscious spread of goats curd and topped with sweet roasted red onion. Do not eat here without ordering the wagyu...
Although we could barely move by this point, we felt it necessary to try two desserts (of course), and settled on the Chocolate Marquise with raspberry sorbet, freeze-dried raspberries and almond praline crumb, as well as the Creme A La Cassonade—kind of like Spain's version of a set custard, except soft and creamy as you like, topped with peach, mandarin, and black sesame praline. Literally the best dessert I've eaten this year.
Look, I understand your reservations: it's the Mt Erica. But take it from me—the little local that could is about to become one of the best undiscovered Spanish gems in the city. Get in before the Chapel St crowd catches on.
Photo credit: Provided