~Third place is the collaboration between hometown father/son duo, Jack and Bryce Gilmore (Jack Allen's Kitchen and Odd Duck/Barley Swine respectively). Their Baja Fish Tacos were very tender, well seasoned and had the added bonus of two corn tortillas. Delicioso!
~Second place goes to Blaine Staniford of Fort Worth (Grace Restaurant). The Chorizo Stuffed Dates with Applewood Bacon, Charred Pepper Sauce and Arugula Salad was a surprising treat. It was similar to a devil on horseback, but instead of cheese inside the date, it was stuffed with chorizo. Really great, intense flavor from the charred pepper sauce and the arugula was a nice, fresh touch.
~First place goes to Jack and Bryce Gilmore (again) for their outstanding Grilled Whole Quail. The quail was tender, juicy and succulent. I am not sure exactly what made up the sauce, but it was smokey and lively. The finishing touch of peanuts and sesame seeds was just right. Mere words cannot convey the pleasure we experienced from this grilled quail. I keep wondering if this might be something on the Odd Duck or Jack Allen menu. I will need to investigate further because I would love to have this dish again.
Honorable mentions include:
Austin's own Chi'Lantro Korean Fried Chicken Tacos were very satisfying, had great crunch and the extra fresh touch of cilantro was appreciated.
Blaine Staniford's Organic Chicken and Apple Sausage on a Potato Bun with Cabbage and Pickled Mustard Seeds was meaty and juicy and those pickled mustard seeds were a really great addition.
I realize that most of these dishes were from the Austin Food & Wine Festival Chef Showcase booth, but we tried a variety of food across the board in the EATS area and those were the standouts. This doesn't really help those ACL Fest attendees for Weekend 2 since the above mentioned chefs will not be serving--there will be a whole new batch of chefs next weekend. But I think it is safe to say you will not come away disappointed with the offerings from Alexis Chong (Sway), David Bull (2nd Bar + Kitchen/Congress) and Andrew Wiseheart (Contigo/Gardner). (Cathy)