Sunday, September 03, 2006

Nutty Brown Cafe

When you see the neon cowboy, you're here!


12225 Highway 290 West Austin, Texas 78737
Hours:Sun-Wed 11a-10p Thu-Fri 11a-midnite Sat 11a-1a

I guess I didnt' get out enough last time I lived in Texas. Or something happened in the last ten years. I don't know which it is, but now it seems that you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a down-home-cooking place with a twist. Everybody is taking the cliché menu items and de-cliché-ing them, like Sting writing a pop song. (Think about it.) That wouldn't be a problem if they weren't all so dang good!

The day we returned to Texas, my double-in-laws1 took us to the Nutty Brown Cafe. As a 10-year ex-pat, I immediately ordered fried catfish, black-eyed peas and fried okra with a big glass of iced tea. It was so-good-it-makes-you-want-to-slap-your-grandma eating. There were two grandmas handy, but one was The Woman and the other was my double-in-law, so I was on my best behavior and refrained from slapping. Others had classics such as chicken-fried steak or burgers. Nobody left disappointed.

Last week we decided on a Hill Country road trip and kicked it off with Sunday lunch at the Nutty Brown. I branched out with the Valley Ranch Fajita Sandwich, which is beef fajita, pico de gallo, chili con queso on toasted focaccia bread. Now tell me that doesn't make you want to stop what you're doing right now and take a big ole messy bite!

Let me skip over the usual items and jump to some choice selections that will have me coming back to check them out:

  • Nutty Shrimp Wontons: jumbo shrimp, bacon, cheese and jalapeno in a crispy wonton.
  • Southwestern Eggrolls: sautéd chicken and veggies in flour tortillas.
  • Sourdough Stack: sliced turkey breast, Swiss, grilled onions, marinated cabbage on toasted sourdough.
  • Check out these sides: lima beans (when was the last time you saw these on a menu?) and jalapeno hush puppies (how did I miss these the last two times?)
  • Alissa's Cheesecake Chimichanga: what more do you need to know?
So, here's the thing.2 We got there at the tail-end of the Sunday Brunch, which runs from 10a-2p for $12. The menu was incredible and they had $2 Mimosas and Bloody Marys. I've never had a Mimosa but it sounds decadent in a Southern way. (Never had a Bloody Mary, either, but it doesn't sound so good to me. Your mileage may vary.) The menu and mimosa wouldn't be enough to make me skip church to come early, but I caught the last 30 minutes of Java Jazz, the band for the brunch. They were doing an arrangement of Pretzel Logic when we arrived and continued on with Coltrane and Bird and many other wonderful tunes. Even though we were sitting at the back end of the opposite end of the bar, we could still hear the music just fine.

I had to go back to do the brunch, so today I slept in and then The Woman and SpyMan, our house guest, set out for the brunch. We got seated in a booth along the back windows. We could hear OK but we couldn't see the band, which is half the fun of live music. The inside is laid out like this:

TablesFront Entrance Back Bar

The buffet is along the center wall in the bar, which is mainly glass, so I noticed some open tables in the section closer to the band. The Woman got us re-located while I went through the buffet line. In addition to the breakfast stuff (bacon, sausage, hash browns, migas, french toast, fruit, bicuits with white gravy) they had Monte Cristo sandwiches, quiche, baked tilapia, beef tenderloin with zuchinni, bacon-wrapped chicken breast, chicken enchilada with white cheese, chicken salad wrap, honey-glazed pork chops and some deserts. Good stuff, Maynard.

When we got back to the table we discovered that the glass keeps out a lot more of the sound from the band than we expected. But we could hear OK. I don't think there's a seat in the place where you can't hear. Even so, the volume is not overpowering. It's still possible to have a normal conversation. (Or abnormal conversation, if you're at our table.) The music and the food were both great. We were there for an hour and a half and as we were leaving they started up Preztel Logic. I felt like the guy who went to the Buddhist hot dog vendor.3


1. What else can you call your kid's spouse's parents?

2. ® Chris Reneau.

3. He said, "Make me one with everything."


kelly said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brad Whittington said...

You don't fool me. You're the one offering bait. But I'm not going to be sucked into that black hole. Nice try, though.

kelly said...

you are no fun :(

and besides, don't you recognize a timid plea for wisdom when you read one...

shanna said...