Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Haddington's: Austin's gastropub serving sweetbreads and caulfat

Austin's East 6th street is lined with lively college bars. It's a lot of fun, but you don't go there for a lovely meal and wine (most places didn't even serve pinot grigio, only Chardonnay and *gasp* white Zinfandel). Thankfully in the West 6th Street district, you'll find more grown-up establishments. To counteract all the well-vodka drinks, house wines and greasy nachos that I had all weekend, it was refreshing to step into Haddington's, a gastropub on the eastside that serves up a cuisine that's influenced by American and British pub fare.

I was excited to see sophisticated tavern fare such as pork rillette, bone marrow and duck meatloaf on the menu. They also have more traditional dishes such as fish & chips and steak. Since we had been grazing on bar food all day, we opted to share a few small plates.

The Popcorn Sweetbreads caught my eye almost immediately. They were cut into tiny nuggets, breaded and fried. The sweetbreads were tender and if you didn't focus hard on the flavors, you would have thought it was chicken. The dish was served with a sherry and orange aioli. I thought the acidity and sweetness from the aioli was a nice compliment to the fried sweetbreads. I just loved how unique this dish was. Screw the ordinary shrimp and chicken!

The duck liver mousse was served in a pot and was silky and spreadable. I enjoyed the buttery toast that was provided, however if you needed more toast (which we did), that's an additional $2.

The British Meatballs were listed under Specialties. House ground meat was braised and wrapped in caul fat. I thought it was kind of pricey (three tiny meatballs for $12). The meat itself wasn't particularly juicy, but I appreciated the use of caul fat which melted into the meatballs and added a fattiness to the dish.

Austin isn't just all about live music and friendly locals. They have a maturing food scene. You can find great BBQ, but you can also find a nice upscale dining scene which offers delicious and unique dishes, while still holding on to the casual, friendly atmosphere that you expect of the city.

Hits: popcorn sweetbreads, ambiance
Misses: extra for toast
Rating: ***

601 W. 6th Street
Austin, TX
(512) 992-0204

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