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Austin Eats, Sunday: Justine’s

September 7, 2009

Our last bit of weekend debauchery was at Justine’s on Sunday night. I’ve heard quite a buzz about this little French brasserie, and I was excited to try it out. Its way over on the east side, in a cute little house, with a lovely patio and a gravel area for playing petanque. I checked out the menu online, and was surprised that the prices seemed reasonable.

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(Sorry about the iPhone photo… I seriously just need to have my camera in my purse at all times!)

When we arrived (at about 7:00 p.m.), there were still a few tables available inside and the patio was empty. It was still lively, with music thumping (I could really only hear the bass, but I SWEAR they were playing some Mexican tunes) and people chatting and wine being poured. It’s a cute little place, with red walls and tiny tables and a small bar. By the time we were eating our first course, the place was swarming with people vying for a table, and it was obvious that the restaurant was not quite ready for the mobs.

We ordered some wine and took a look at the menu. We decided to share a few things, so we started with a cheese plate and a steamed artichoke. Justin really enjoyed the cheeses, though we had no explanation from waitstaff or menu on what they actually were. The artichoke was perfect, and just what I had been craving.

We also tried the Soupe des Ardennes, a potato leek soup with endives and homemade croutons. This was so decadent and delicous… big chunks of potato and leek, crunchy garlic croutons, and a creamy, rich base.

We then shared the Cote du Porc, a grilled pork chop with a thyme reduction and potato puree. Wow. I have never had a pork chop so juicy and tender! The thyme sauce was fabulous, and the potatoes were hand-mashed, chunky and possibly flavored with a (bleu?) cheese. So very good.

For dessert, we had to try the creme brulee. I am a HUGE creme brulee fan, but I’ve been disappointed so often in the ones that I’ve tried. This one did not disappoint. It had a thick, crunchy layer of caramelized sugar on top, and the creme was soft and runny, full of vanilla flavor. We scraped the bowl clean.

I would love to try Justine’s again, but not until they are fully staffed and well-equipped to handle the hordes that are pounding down their door. Our waiter was actually not an employee, but a close friend of the owners who was kind enough to volunteer his time, and there only seemed to be one other true waitress in view. There were a couple of runners, the owners, and the bartenders, but it was obvious they needed more staff. I think once they smooth that out, the place will be fabulous… it must be a frustrating but great problem to have… having so many people want to eat at your restaurant that you can’t keep up. So I’d highly recommend you try it out… in an few weeks. :)

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2 Discussion to this post
  1. Justine’s sounds great! We really need some midlevel French in town, I think (Chez Nous is great, but oh, the parking…). I want that soup!

  2. Love your honest review! Can’t wait to try it out regardless. I’m all about the food!!

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