When we arrived to the restaurant, we were greeted and quickly seated in the middle of the dining room, affording views of the busy yet composed open kitchen. Our server was gracious and very hospitable, as were all those we encountered during our visit. I started with a Gin & Tonic which had Ford’s gin, takara plum wine, Bittermens “commonwealth” tonic cordial, and Topo Chico. This was a smooth, balanced and refreshing drink that had just a subtle note (probably the plum wine) that differentiated this gin and tonic from most. Our server confirmed that I was the one in our group who was gluten-free, then the tasting began. Keep in mind the menu at Qui changes often, so some of the items we had have since changed, but this gives an idea of what to expect. Sadly, the photos of the food were not usable since the lighting is so artfully dimmed. The portion sizes are small plate format, but apportioned in such a way that by the end of the meal, one is left feeling completely satisfied.
Going through all the courses seems a bit tedious, but I will touch on each a bit. The first course was Escalivada, a Catalan dish of smokey grilled vegetables with eggplant, red pepper, onion, peach and valdeon cheese. Next was Lobster Claw with lobster "air", a favorite of mine. Then came Fried Chicken with smoked oyster aioli, sal de gusano, and egg yolk custard; another favorite of the table. Next came a dish of mussels followed by a mushroom dish; both were delicious. The extremely tender Niman Ranch Shortrib with smoked soy, green onion and crème fraîche became the new favorite. A little breather in between came with a play on cheese whiz and crackers, but of course this was an elevated interpretation of the classic, all made in-house. My cracker was substituted with a fresh, crisp slice of Fuji apple. For dessert there was Maja Blanca Mais, a corn pudding with lime yogurt sorbet topped with meringue that is hand seared tableside with a piece of hot binchotan charcoal (derived from a Japanese oak).
The synchronized service made the experience a touch dramatic, but that much more memorable The outdoor patio has a separate Pulutan menu which offers Filipino cuisine appetizers and, of course, items from the bar. Happy hour on the patio happens Monday-Thursday until the sun goes down. The tasting room off to the side of the main dining room, which was not open during my first visit, is a $120 per person experience with several courses. I think many in Austin are waiting for the September opening of Paul Qui's Japanese restaurant, Otoko, in the South Congress Hotel (not to mention Pao at Faena Miami Beach). If his East 6th restaurant is any indication, all of these new ventures will be stellar.
Please note: Qui has closed since the publication of this post.