The first dish to come out of the kitchen was the Roasted Carrot & Avocado Salad with sunflower sprouts, frisée, citrus vinaigrette, and pumpkin seed granola. This was a hit with the group because of the freshness of the produce, the precise cooking of the carrots, and the added interest of the pumpkin seed granola. A really nice combination of flavors and a good way to start the meal. Next up was the Golden Cauliflower with herbed yogurt, pine nuts, and golden raisins. I have heard a lot of praise from various sources for this small plate, and it deserves the attention. The cauliflower is flash fried and brought to an even higher level by the creamy herbed yogurt and crunchy pine nuts. Cauliflower has been deemed the "it" veggie of 2015, and St. Philip plays it up well. Another hit was the Polenta Fries with warm tomato sauce. A perfect texture contrast was achieved with the crispy, crunchy fried outer layer surrounding the creamy, warm inner layer of polenta. The piquant tomato sauce added an extra boost to the cornmeal treat. A friend ordered the Toasted House Bread with house-made cultured butter, pickles, and fresh radishes. I did not try the bread, but the radishes were crisp and there were some caperberries on the dish that were delicious.
Our winning streak lost a bit of steam with the arrival of the pizzas. The toppings were excellent, but the crust fell short. We tried two: the White Pizza with house cheese blend, serrano ham, honey, red pepper flakes, and arugula, as well as the Fennel Sausage Pizza with piquillo peppers, shaved red onion, basil, house blend mozzarella, and red sauce. Of the two, my favorite was the sausage pizza which had a good flavor ratio of sweet/savory sausage, spicy peppers and fresh basil, but with a crust that was soggy in places and cardboard-like in others, it was a moot point. Austin has some seriously stellar pizza restaurants, so if St. Philip can remedy the issue with their crust, I think it could be a contender. All was well again with the arrival of the Ricotta Dumplings with wild mushroom, corn, and serrano ham. This shared plate was well executed; the dumplings were perfectly cooked, there was a variety of mushrooms which tasted very fresh and woodsy, and the ham was a hearty addition.
Our server endeared herself to us forever when she brought three complimentary desserts to the table for our birthday celebration. Toffee Buzz is a dark chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, crushed toffee, and chocolate covered espresso beans. This was my hands down favorite dessert. The brownie was moist and gooey in the best way, and the bits of toffee and espresso beans were a perfect touch. The Banana Pudding Cake with vanilla ice cream, and Nilla Wafer crumble was a modern version of an old favorite, though the banana aspect was very subtle. Finally the Lemongrass Lime Mousse was light, airy and balanced. I look forward to a return visit to try their sandwiches and some of the delightful looking treats in the bakeshop. St. Philip is a boon for this south Austin neighborhood and it has the potential to be a lasting force on the Austin restaurant scene.
Please note: St. Philip has closed since the publication of this post.