No. 5 Odd Duck
Fine dining wears a comfort-food guise at Odd Duck. The restaurant seems conflicted, as if it’s trying to hide its complex flavors and artful plating behind quaint mismatched china, chipped paint, and burlap lamp shades. In charge of the kitchen are chefs Sam Hellman-Mass, age 29, and Mark Buley, age 30 (overseen, of course, by jefe Bryce Gilmore, who also cooks at his other restaurant, much-honored Barley Swine, down the street). At first glance, “Roasted Beets” sounds easy-peasy, but the chefs take cubes of the sweet, colorful root vegetable and snuggle them into a lovely fuchsia-hued borscht, adding snowy dabs of crème fraîche and a couple of rakish house-made beet chips. Here “Ceviche” is not the usual Mexican specialty but rather pieces of lightly marinated red snapper decorated with swaths of cumin-scented harissa sauce. It’s tempting to make a meal of small plates at the Duck, but for a full-table treat, order the massive grilled “Porkerhouse Chop.” Tender as a Sunday ham in its savory puddle of mustard-seed sauce, the monster will be delivered to your party standing regally on edge. Expect heads to turn, including yours.
Opened December 9, 2013. 1201 S. Lamar Blvd, Austin (512-433-6521). L Mon–Fri. D 7 days. B Sun. Reservations taken.