Not every evening in Austin calls for beer and BBQ. We at the Austinot aim to find some of the town’s great wine bars too, where one can go after a rough day at work and just sit for a quiet glass of vino.
Which led me to Apothecary Cafe & Wine Bar one evening after work. Located in the Rosedale Village Center at 4800 Burnet, close to 45th Street, Apothecary is a bit difficult to find. The signage along Burnet are blink-and-you-miss-it. It was, in fact, my failure to find Apothecary that originally led me to Gusto.
But inside, Apothecary is dark and sultry, with dark wood and Moroccan-style fixtures and colors. The whole place has a sexy, intimate feel, and distinguishes itself from other wine bars I’ve been to thus far.
I arrived with two others at 7 PM on a Thursday evening and the place was packed. We were put on a list for a table, and got seats along the long bar. I’d called ahead, but – like many restaurants in Austin – they didn’t take reservations. As a consolation, I was told it would be easy to get a table at 7 PM.
Being at the bar doesn’t inhibit drinking. But it does make conversation awkward for the monkey in the middle which, in this case, was me.
We kept being offered the chance to order food, but were hoping to get a table before trying to eat. The waitstaff were attentive and nice, but it was tough to pace drinking when we weren’t sure when we’d be seated and could start eating (which ended up being about an hour after arrival).
There were a number of food specials, lots of them tasty-sounding. In fact, the whole menu read like a list of Things I Want To Eat. I am constantly craving Chicken Parmesan or, as it’s called in our house, “chickieparm.” So I got that. My friends ordered pizza and a citrus fruity salad. We also ordered some baked brie as an appetizer to share.
None of the food was bad. My chickieparm was tasty, and John’s pizza was okay. Andrea got the seared Ahi Tuna special, which we decided was the best thing on the menu. I will reiterate: none of the food was bad. But you’re talking about entrées that are over $12, and none of them were really exceptional. If it’s indicative, despite waiting a while for the table and the extended delay before we ate, we had a LOT of leftovers.
The ambiance, however, was fantastic. Apothecary has a really young, hip vibe. You’d think that just having a Velvet Elvis would do it, BUT NO. All of the decor choices were primo. And probably, for some, they justify the primo prices on the menu.
The wines I had were good. For those who don’t like wine, there were a selection of other drinks as well.
Unlike Gusto, I can imagine that strangers can pick one another up at Apothecary and, when the weather is nice, have a drink outside in the little patio. And it is already a popular joint. I randomly ran into some people I knew while I was there – someone who lives in South Austin! So whether or not I had a good experience is clearly not keeping people from far away out of Apothecary’s dining room.
I guess my frustration with Austin dining is these bars/restaurants where the THING is to wait. They don’t take reservations, and you can’t plan out your evening because you’re not sure what time you’re going to get to eat.
AND in the “be grateful I don’t post all the photos I take” category, the ladies’ bathroom was very, very unclean. When the bill for 3 people is over $100, it does change my expectations a leetle bit and not even Velvet Elvis can save me!
Bottom line: great ambiance, nice wines, hip crowd, but a bit pricy and the food is so-so.
What other Austin wine bars do you recommend I review?
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