Editor’s Note: Revival House has closed.
The corner of 2nd and Trinity can be a challenging one for new Austin businesses. When companies and trade shows invade the Austin Convention Center, profits soar. When they leave, it’s a different story. Located too far for the South Congress lunch crowd, and inconvenient for the Rainey/6th Street scene, blossoming restaurants have had a tough time maintaining a regular clientele.
Revival Public House hopes to change all that. Through an Austin-centric menu, décor and vibe, this new eatery offers up Southern comfort food with an ATX twist. The result is a delicious addition to the local foodie scene that’s well worth traveling the extra couple of blocks.
Back to Basics
Curious how to find Revival Public House? A giant tower, visible a block away, soars over the building like a beacon. Inside, guests are treated to a warm, inviting space. Up front is a massive horseshoe bar while the main dining room sits in the back, creating a more intimate setting.
Having the bar as the main point of entry allows Revival Public House to maintain a pub feel while offering a cozier dining section at the same time. The first time I visited, I was attending a work happy hour, and the bar area easily accommodated our party of twenty with room to spare.
Larger parties are accommodated just as easily. Large curtains can hang between the bar and dining area, dividing it into a 100-seat event space. With a rich, burnt red color scheme and deep wood accents, the space is decidedly more Austin than its previous iteration, Crave. According to Executive Chef and Operating Director Frank Johnson, that was the whole idea.
“The owners called me up and said, ‘Crave isn’t really an Austin-style concept. What can we do?’” Johnson shared. “I took a look at the tap system and said, ‘Let’s build a concept around good food and beer.’”
Good Eats and Drinks
Chef Johnson’s menu represents a dedication to all things local, and his diverse experience. With a blend of Mexican fare and Southern comfort food, combined with a 40-beer tap wall, the selection is accessible and foodie-oriented.
“For me, it’s all about simplicity and that’s what this menu is all about,” said Johnson. “My driving force behind it was to make it simple enough, yet tasty enough, so people didn’t feel overwhelmed by it.”
While visiting during happy hour, I was able to try a few of the light bites, examples of Johnson’s flavorful yet approachable menu.
Revival Public House’s gulf fish taco is equal parts fresh and crisp with a hint of subtle heat. Pickled onion delivers a satisfying crunch and up-front flavor, which quickly gives way to a richly-seasoned white fish. As of this article, the fish of choice is mahi mahi, but this will change based upon seasonal availability. Fresh pico de gallo and creamy chimichurri completes this refreshing take on the classic fish taco.
The bacon-wrapped dates were even better. Wrapped in crisp bacon and stuffed with locally-sourced goat cheese, the appetizer is rich, tender and packed with flavor. The star of the dish is a drizzle of cider glaze and the fresh apple the date sits upon. The balance of savory and apple sweet ignites the plate, making it a must-try during your happy hour.
Many of the menu items are seasonal, but fan favorites like the shrimp and grits and the 737 Burger, named after Austin’s new area code, will remain on the menu all year long. Also honoring Texas are the 40+ beer taps. Ninety percent of the beers on tap are from Texas, with half coming from Austin breweries.
Revival Public House Is Worth a Try
When talking about his new venture, Johnson sounds like the proud papa of a culinary family. Many members of his kitchen staff have been with him for multiple years, and have followed him from The Roaring Fork on Stonelake and the aforementioned Crave.
The restaurant reflects this special connection. Thanks to a new, more local approach, Revival Public House seems poised to become more than a convention center hang out. With a seasonal menu, great happy hour and a catering component in the works, this pub with Texas flair is on the right track. Well worth rolling past Gus’s Fried Chicken to get a bite and a beer.
Revival Public House is located on the corner of 2nd Street and Trinity Street across from the Austin Convention Center. For happy hour times, menu and social media, visit revivalph.com.
@BillTuckerTSP wants to know:
Where do you get your Southern comfort food fix in Austin?
Disclosure: Revival Public House comped my bar bites during my recent visit. All opinions are my own.