208 West 4th Street
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: (512) 494-4011
Website: www.pecheaustin.com

Elaborate absinthe decanters dot the rich, wooden bar. Glittering chandeliers cast a twilight glint, illuminating lounging bargoers sipping cocktails with names like the French 75 and the Bees Knees. It’s not a turn-of-the-century Prohibition era hideout, but it’s definitely the next best thing.

Péché is the brainchild of owner Rob Pate, a veritable encyclopedia of mixology knowledge. On our first visit, Mr. Pate personally visited or table, quizzed each guest at our table about his or her favorite type of liquor, and then recommended a specialized cocktail to each, based on the conversation. Not only that, but he also gave detailed historical information about most of the drinks.

It is this individual touch and detailed knowledge that make Péché one of Austin’s most valuable hidden jewels. The impressive mixology know-how of Mr. Pate and his retinue of expert, handcrafting bartenders is paired with the culinary expertise of chef Jason Dodge for a truly magical, unique experience.

One of the best-kept secrets is the Péché chef’s table. For roughly 50 dollars per person (the peice on our last trip) you and your dining companions can watch the magic happen, enjoying the show as the chef prepares a multi-course meal based on the day’s findings from local providers.

On a recent trip, we opted for the chef’s table experience to celebrate an old friend getting a new job that allowed him to move back to Austin. Word to the wise: the chef’s table experience is most likely to be available on a weeknight, and you must call ahead for availability.

Our meal started with the day’s charcuterie plate.  Salty slices of serrano ham paired nicely with the subtly metallic mix of grilled pork liver and onion.

These savory offerings were complemented nicely with a tart but sweet apricot mostardo. The refined melange also included a sophisticated eye of round, which was paired with formidable Springdale Farms arugula. The eye of round had phased through a number of aging techniques, requiring a full month-and-a-half of preparation. A stout housemade Fireman’s 4 mustard was the perfect condiment for this grown-up offering. The plate was finished with a beautiful, delicate duck gateau, which was both flavorful and creamy.

From the charcuterie plate, we moved on to a flavor and texture marriage that was enough to throw your taste buds into overdrive.  Steamed mussels arrived in a bowl of seriously flavorful lentil broth.  Scattered above the perfectly cooked mussels was an amazing array of fried blue crab dauphin, which marry delicate blue crab with whipped potatoes fried to a delicate crunchiness.  Again, the dish was sophisticated, perfectly executed, and full of unexpected flavor nuances.When our third dish arrived, we were told that “this one is the bunny.”  Let me tell you, people, this was one delicious bunny.  The rabbit was prepared with Dijon mustard and saffron in an elegant, blow-your-mind broth, which was paired with graceful crepes Bourginon, garlic aioli, and soft root vegetables.  Essentially, the dish was a deconstructed chicken pot pie, illustrating the ability of the Péché kitchen to execute confident comfort food with a sophisticated French twist.

The next dish was equally unexpected and exquisite.  This last savory course featured a 5-spice spaghetti squash with wild boar terrine, Springdale Farms arugula, and quail eggs.  The star of this dish was the terrine, which, like the eye of round before it, was a testament to the patience and craftsmanship of the kitchen.  The boar was braised for five hours, and infused with the unusual mixture of vanilla bean and local chiles.  Like all of the dishes before it, the wild boar terrine exuded the bravado and confidence of a kitchen that is well aware of its skills and abilities.

We finished up the meal with another dish whose explanation failed to account for its tastiness and finesse.  This time, it was an ice cream sandwich that married white chocolate flavors, pistachio cookies, and strawberry sauce.  A little salty, a little fruity, and just downright yummy.

Péché is truly one of the best places for an event meal in Austin.  It is dimly light enough for romance, lively enough for a celebration, and delicious enough for any occasion.  Both the mixologists and the kitchen, including chef Jason Dodge, have extensive knowledge, confidence, and skill that make Péché one of the most exquisite places in the city to enjoy a truly memorable meal or happy hour.  Both the cuisine and the cocktails are refined enough for an elegant night, but unpretentious enough for an after-work meet-up with friends.  Péché has everything–atmosphere, elegance, delicious food, and a dizzying array of drink options.  Everybody should be eating or drinking here every chance they get; I know I will.

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  1. Pingback: 2012 Austin City Guide: French Dining in Austin | Bite of Austin

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