Little Barrel and Brown - Austin, TX
With truly endless options for foodie adventures in Austin, you never really run out of a new place to try. Little Barrel and Brown should be one of those places. It's been around since 2013 and is located right off South Congress in between Milton St. and Annie St. They serve amazingly great food and are known for a couple of things, like their burger and cheese fries. Yes, those are separate items and yes, you must order both of them.
I was out with a big group for dinner so there was plenty of tastings to go around. Of course we started with a few appetizers. One of them was the Beer Battered Shrimp. The shrimp was perfectly fried with a crispy batter. It was served with a fruit slaw and a sweet chili soy sauce. The soy sauce was a nice balance between salty and spicy and complimented the shrimp quite well. I could have eaten more of this, but there was more to try on this adventure.
We also ordered the sloppy joe sliders. I was intrigued by these sliders because they were not made with your traditional sloppy joe meat. Instead it was made with duck confit and topped with arugula and picked red onion. The duck confit was shredded, super moist, and rich in flavor. The picked onions did a very nice job of cutting through that richness with its acidity. Although I'm not a huge fan of arugula, it really went well with everything in the slider because it added a subtle spicy bite overall. If you're up for an adventure and something different, I definitely recommend the sloppy joe sliders.
Now, if adventure isn't your middle name, then these cheese fries are you new best friend. I swear I think our party of 11 ordered at least three if not four orders of these fries. That's how insanely awesome they were. My photo does not do it any justice. The fries were crispy and crunchy and smothered with a mixture of cheddar cheese and smoked gouda with a sprinkling of green onions. It tasted like a deconstructed baked potato with melty cheese and fresh scallions. Considering how we each probably could have eaten one order of these fries, these fries are a definite must have.
Before getting to my actual dinner entree, I wanted to share what a few folks ordered at the table. A few folks ordered was the Texas Free Range Buttermilk Fried Chicken. It was a awesome fried chicken dish. It looks fabulous being perfectly fried and crunchy. Everyone liked it because it had a definite kick to the flavor with the Frank's Red Hot sauce. It was served with side salad made with watermelon and arugula. It was a fresh salad that compliemented the fried chicken.
Rumor has it that the LB&B burger is one of the best burgers you can have. In fact, it made a list from Thrillist.com as one of the best 15 new burgers of 2014. Had I not already had so much food at this point I would have jumped on this burger. I'm a huge fan of burgers, but I would ordered this because of the marrownaise on said burger. Mayo made with bone marrow. I can't get enough of bone marrow and you don't see it very often on menus so I would have totally ordered it just for that. It would have added a great richness to the already juicy pattie. Regardless, all those having burgers agreed it's a very good burger and well worth the $12 price tag.
After all that, I actually can't believe I ordered a salad for my dinner entree. I love eating out at new places and I usually don't like to waste an adventure on salad. However, I will say that the Kale Caesar was a worthy dinner salad. I recently added kale to my normal shopping list so I'm a fan, but I don't think I've ever had this much kale in a salad. I've had kale chips and kale mixed with other greens. This salad can hold it's own weight, albeit a light one, next to the burger and fried chicken. The kale was crisp and fresh. It was topped with grated parmesan cheese, garlic croutons and a caesar dressing. It was perfectly dressed with the right amount of dressing to salad ratio. Nothing drives me crazier than craving more greens to go with my dressing. And no, I didn't forget, it was also topped with white anchovy fillets. It was a very nice addition and gave every bite I had a nice salty flavor. A properly made caesar, either dressing or salad, should have anchovies as part of the ingredients so I was delighted to have this right on top.
There was more food from the other end of the table, like mussels and flatbread and everyone had nothing, but great things to say. Little Barrel and Brown is a small, quaint restaurant off SoCo (South Congress) with a very cool vibe. Service was also great. They did a nice job handling a big group without too much fuss. So if you're looking for a new and unexpected place to try, drop by Little Barrel and Brown next time you're in town.