When you love food as much as I do, getting invited to a soft opening of one of Austin’s most anticipated restaurants is like a sports lover getting invited to a championship game. Opening this Saturday in the Sky House on Rainey Street, Emmer and Rye is serving up New American dim sum, and they are doing it right.
Their broad selection of offerings come in two different ways; first there is a menu with small plates, pastas, main dishes and desserts to choose from. Choose some of the on-menu items. Then, there are servers with wooden dim sum trays and carts to tempt you with the evening’s dim sum offerings. The dim sum ranges from lighter soups and vegetables, to more substantial as the meal progresses. The light grilled eggplant topped with goat cheese, perfectly ripe tomatoes and a clean, fresh pesto was a perfect starter to the heartier grilled cabbage with savory pork. The restaurant uses local growers, so their offerings will change regularly based on seasonality and availability.
The impeccable attention to detail is noticed right away and the amount of time and preparation that goes into each dish. The Where There is Smoke cocktail actually has a smoked ice cube, which gives it a warm, autumn-y quality. Many of their dishes contain ingredients that are fermented in house, and there is even a closet next to the bar where jars of goodies are on display, fermenting away for lucky restaurant goers in the future.
Their platings are beautiful, especially the Grain Salad, with feta, cucumbers and tomato. The Porridge of Smoked Oats and Emmer, Lamb Neck and Pickled Okra Seeds was outstanding. Salty, but not too salty, savory but not too savory, and left us wanting more. Our favorite of the larger dishes was the Wagyu Short Rib. Spiced with a little chili, it was fall apart tender. Ask for some of the buttery, flaky bread to sweep everything off the plate.
To round out all of the savory with a little sweet, the Goat’s Milk Panna Cotta was perfection, with a cool, lightly sweet cream, topped with crunchy granola, and a salty, sweet honeycomb.
Bottom line – try the dim sum, save room for the on-menu items, and do not skip dessert!