Austin >Second Bar + Kitchen
Second Bar is a great spot for brunch, a burger, or a steak at a price that won't break the bank (even if it is associated with one of the best chefs in the city). The truffle fries are awesome.
When it opened a few years back, Second Bar + Kitchen almost instantly became my equal opportunity hangout spot for in-law visits, workish happy hours, girls nights, and birthdays. And bar manager Billy Hankey -- who used to operate the much-missed Good Knight on east 6th -- is a big reason. You see, Billy is a throwback, the kind of bartender who doesn't forget a face (or a drink), the kind who will get your drink started for you as hobble up to the bar, the kind who has prompted my family members to say, "and I didn't even know I liked ginger beer!" Under his watch, cocktails are simply and classy, like the Gin + Jam: Literally a shaker of gin with a spoonful of housemade preserves. Just stir and sip.
The picture says it all truffle fries and a glass of crisp white wine enjoyed on their outdoor patio on a sunny Austin day. A perfect lunch spot or casual dinner place. Don't miss the gin and jam cocktail (not to be confused with gin and juice). A healthy spoonful of house made, seasonal preserves accompanies gin on the rocks, these go down smooth.
The more affordable Second Bar at the Austonian building downtown has world-class cocktails to go with an inventive continental menu. Try the french fries with truffle oil and the fried olives.
Well, while it is not the most comfortable venue, there are good will prepared items on the menu. Not any great surprises, but definitely well executed items.
I think the best thing was the Kocurek appetizer platter for is diverse items but excellent preparation of each.
Pastas and desserts were equally well appreciated.
Service was also very good if not impeccable. The effort was certainly there.
The food exceeded the ambiance enough that it made me want to try Congress on my next visit.
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