Odd Duck is a restaurant I’m dissapointed in myself for waiting so long to visit. Bryce Gilmore famous for Barley Swine that really put a mark on the Austin culinary scene, opened this restaurant after success with his food truck that used all local ingredients from farmers. At a time in our culinary scene, where it’s almost expected that everyone be farm to table, it’s not this detail that won me over at Odd Duck. Each dish is so carefully thought out and well plated. You can’t find any of these dishes replicated on any other Austin menus and THAT is what I have been searching for, a restaurant with original content and creative ideas that really make you think. The menu changes pretty often, but have no fear, they allow that Pretzel, Pig Face Carnitas, Cheddar and Masa Mustard guy to be a regular. This is enough to share with several people as you don’t need an obscene amount to yourself because the rest of the menu is so good for sharing, too.
The good thing I have to say about my experience is that the Smoked Chicken Steam Bun wit Sweet & Hot Peppers and Peanut Crunches is one of the top 5 best dishes I’ve eaten in Austin over the last 8 months. The bad thing is that it’s only available on the lunch menu! RATS. I want to eat this for dinner regularly. Anyway, it’s a steamed bun similar to the buns at Momofuku but it’s a little crispier and has garlic on it so it’s really disguised. The smoked chicken is shredded and peppers and mustard seeds give it that awesome crunch. Soft, crunchy, sweet and sour, this dish has it all! I also loved the Redfish Ceviche with Tigers Milk, Cucumbers, Grilled Olives and Peaches. I was thrilled to see it wasn’t as creamy as I had expected and fresh and colorful as can be.
Once I got over how awesome and unique the Smoked Chicken buns were, I was able to enjoy the Fried Fish Taco. The flour tortilla was a perfect base to hold everything in tact and to be honest it just tasted like a nice thin bread and not floury which I prefer. There are two hefty tacos each with two big chunks of fish. All of the portions here are just large enough to share with 3-4 people while still trying several plates and getting enough satisfaction. I really wanted to like the Green Salad with Peaches, Grilled Okra and Guacamole more but it just didn’t beat the others. However, I did appreciate and notice how our waitress split this up onto three separate plates for us so we didn’t have to. It’s the little things, ya know?
As if we needed to order more, they pulled a fast one out by mentioning the ice cream sandwich special of the day which included some kind of cookie with corn nut dust stuffed with black pepper ice cream and swirled with rhubarb jam. DON’T MISS THE JAM! Anyway, it’s served in a tea cup and just as cute as all of the other mismatched vintage plates.
The space tricks you into thinking it’s small, but that’s just because the tall, wooden bar covered in colorful jars, makes up the center of the entire restaurant and you feel like you have privacy on each side. That outdoor patio is gigantic and something I need to take advantage of in the fall when it’s cooler.
Honestly, Odd Duck made my week and made me have more faith in the Austin restaurant scene. I say this because sometimes, I just see a lot of copy cats or dish repetition and they really set the bar high here in a casual yet smart environment. This restaurant is for anyone on any occasion whether it’s a quick lunch, girls night out, bachelor party, date night, or dinner with the parents. Can’t wait to see what they have on the menu next!