Last summer, I visited the East Austin Hotel pool and thoroughly enjoyed cocktails and food from their poolside menu. It’s taken me 6 months, but I finally visited the hotel’s other dining options – the restaurant, Sixth and Waller, and their rooftop bar, The Upside.
Thank you, East Austin Hotel, for inviting the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance to try out your menu! While I did receive complimentary food and drinks, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Chef Jason Stude and his team really spoiled us. When we arrived, there were individual glasses of champagne and plates of whipped goat cheese with a peach jam and grilled bread. I knew right from the start – this place is something special. The goat cheese and peach mixture was absolutely delicious. They gave us pretty large portions and I still practically licked my plate clean.
The 1st course started with charred sesame-garlic edamame and muhammara (a kind of dip with Aleppo pepper, cilantro, walnuts, and yogurt) with coriander pita chips. Then, two types of Reubens came out – one vegetarian made with portabella mushrooms and one regular made with pastrami. My favorite was the pastrami. It was like a pastrami brisket, if that’s a thing. One thick cut of meat, but it fell right apart in your mouth. The sauerkraut and Russian dressing on delicious rye bread made for an incredible sandwich.
I was pretty impressed with the vegetarian version as well. Chef Jason talked about how vegetarians shouldn’t have to eat salads all the time. He said there are plenty of creative vegetarian dishes out there – reverting to salads without protein is just lazy cooking. He was very passionate about creating delicious, savory meals that just happen to also be vegetarian.
The 2nd course came out strong with a delicious vegan kale caesar salad. Chef Jason reminded us that vegans can’t eat traditional caesar salads because of the parmesan cheese and creamy dressing, so he wanted to make a vegan-friendly version. He went with a lemon-caper dressing for the tang and nutritional yeast for the parmesan powder, because nutritional yeast has kind of a cheesy flavor (did you know that?). Finally, he topped it with millet croutons. Vegan or not, the salad was delicious.
There was also a roasted chicken and charred corn Panzanella (a kind of bread salad) and chilled garlic-sesame udon noodles. The noodles were absolutely delicious!
My favorite item of the 2nd course, however, was easy the shrimp and grits. I never thought I’d say that. I’ve had shrimp and grits several times, but I’ve honestly never had any I really liked. They were all just… fine. This version of shrimp and truffle grits was incredibly delicious. When I go back to Sixth and Waller, I’ll probably order that as my entree. The plating of it was also impressive. The grits were thick and firm, so they could be plated on a flat board. Well done, Chef Jason! Well done.
At this point, we all rolled ourselves upstairs to The Upside. The Upside is the rooftop bar and patio space for the East Austin Hotel. It overlooks the pool and has cozy seating all around. I chose the champagne Paloma to start, then jumped into the dessert spread.
They had 5 different desserts for us to sample. The Rice Krispy treats were good (gluten-free) and simple. I was super excited to try the buttermilk biscuit beignets with Cafe du Monde caramel sauce but I have to say, I was disappointed for the first time that night. The fried dough was way too much like a biscuit. It wasn’t the right consistency to be called a beignet. It didn’t taste bad! It just wasn’t a beignet. They also cut up their blueberry french toast from their brunch menu for us to try! It was definitely sweet and could totally pass as dessert.
My two favorite desserts were the s’mores roasting stations and the Tahini ganache tarts. The s’mores roasting is such a cute idea. If you were on a date, it’d be so fun to roast marshmallows at your table. The Tahini ganache tarts had a complex, rich, chocolatey. They were like little chocolate candies! I could have easily eaten 5 of them.
Overall, I was extremely impressed by Sixth and Waller. I had no idea of the level of food that was being served here! As I’m writing this, I went back to their menu online to check the price points. Breakfast and lunch meals are $15 or less (with the exception of steak and eggs and the pastrami with sunny side up eggs). Dinner apps and salads are all $5-$15 dollar range and entrees are $18-23. That’s a steal, people.
They are currently rolling out a full dinner service. It would be a perfect date night spot! The quality of the food, creativity behind the recipes, and beauty of the plating all support this move from counter service to full service. This food deserves your full attention!
They’ll still be doing counter service for brunch and lunch if you need a quick meal, so don’t worry. I know I’ll be back to enjoy a full-on dinner experience, though.
Thanks again, East Austin Hotel and Chef Jason!