Tucked away one street over and four stories up from Rainey Street is an oasis amidst the chaos. Geraldine’s is the newest restaurant and cocktail bar to open in this popular Austin neighborhood. After a banner year for restaurant openings in Austin, Geraldine’s closes out 2015 with a bang and gives us plenty to look forward to in 2016.
Named after the infamous guinea fowl adopted as an unofficial mascot by the Rainey Street neighborhood, Geraldine’s is acutely aware of its place. The restaurant simply couldn’t exist anywhere else. Following the theme of its host, Hotel Van Zandt, Geraldine’s effortlessly blends into the musically-inclined and rustic Rainey Street area.
Walking through Hotel Van Zandt and into Geraldine’s, you get the distinct impression that you’re exactly where you’re intended to be. The hip atmosphere joined with Texas old-world elegance just feels like Austin. Combine this with a sublime patio/pool overlooking Lady Bird Lake and live music every day of the week, and you have yourself a winner.
Keeping It Local
The food and beverage team behind Geraldine’s is as deeply-rooted in Austin as the restaurant itself. Executive Chef Frank Mnuk is an Uchi alum; Pastry Chef Callie Speer came by way of Swift’s Attic; and Chief Bar Architect Jen Keyser is known for Midnight Cowboy. This all-star team hails from the best Austin has to offer within each niche of the industry.
The keeping-it-local and farm-to-table trends that permeate Austin’s hippest restaurants play well here, as Mnuk emphasizes local and seasonal ingredients on his menu. Dining can be considered Texas tapas style, with hearty small plates that are still very much shareable.
My first meal at Geraldine’s began with the Corn Skillet Cake ($13), a sweet and savory starter perfectly complemented with caramelized onions. You might be mistaken in thinking we have yellowtail fish swimming around Lady Bird Lake when you try the Smoked Yellowtail Taco ($5), an incredibly fresh-tasting fish taco served on a taro root shell.
Austin’s pork rib game is strong. You can go the traditional route and try them at your favorite neighborhood BBQ trailer, or you can go with the fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth type popping up at our trendiest restaurants. Geraldine’s version, the Crispy Pork Ribs ($17) definitely fall in the latter category and are highly recommended.
The Grouper ($23) is pan-seared, wonderfully flaky and comes perfectly balanced with acorn squash topped off with hazelnut brown butter. Dinner was capped off with Lemon Buttermilk Pie ($9), served with apple butter and surrounded by gingersnap soil and cornflake crunch, all finely complemented by almond ice cream. This dish tastes exactly as it sounds and instantly became one of my favorite dessert experiences in Austin.
Geraldine’s Epic Feasts
In the spirit of fostering community through breaking bread, Geraldine’s offers Epic Feasts. These meals require 48 hours notice and are prepared for 4-6 people at a time. You can choose from options like Braised Beef Osso Bucco with charred tomato red wine sauce ($320) or Fried Chicken with classic gravy and habanero butter sauce ($220). Each Epic Feast is served with salad, vegetables, sides and a dessert.
As I was dining, the table next to me ordered an Epic Feast that was truly befitting the name. This meal featured a 96-ounce Dry Aged Bone-in Prime Rib Roast with red wine sauce and a fresh horseradish cream ($320). This full experience included the chef coming out to present the dish and explain all the deliciousness.
Epic meals aside, the regular dinner options feel like a feast on their own. The plus-sized small plates and hyperlocal menu focus give a straight-up Austin vibe. Combine that with live music every night in one of the hippest neighborhoods in Texas, and you have a very welcome addition to our city. Hotel Van Zandt’s opening may have been delayed for several months, but Geraldine’s is worth the wait.
605 Davis St. – Website
@Crafty_Ed wants to know:
What is your favorite dining spot in the Rainey Street neighborhood?
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