Get a peek at Arlo Grey, Austin’s swanky new eatery at The Line Hotel
For those of you who haven’t heard, Kristen Kish (winner of Top Chef season 10) has opened a swanky new restaurant in The Line Hotel in downtown Austin called Arlo Grey. Proclaiming it’s food as “elevated Midwestern,” Arlo Grey works to find space between nouvelle cuisine and the comfort foods of Michigan, circa 1980. Challenge accepted.
Now, if you’re anything like me, you don’t put a lot of stock (pun intended) in the abilities of on screen chefs. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are some good ones, even great ones, but I’d argue for the most part they’re more semblance than substance. More than most, however, I love to be wrong. So that meant I needed to get into Arlo Grey ASAP and see if Chef Kish could live up to the hype.
Arlo Grey’s aesthetic summarized in a single word would have to be “unorthodox.” Floor to ceiling windows encircle half of the dining area, while curved black and teacup pig pink walls comprise the other half, causing the natural light to bounce from surface to surface. This creates a myriad of moods and eye-catching reflective effects. Suspended from the ceiling you’ll find polished gold, bullet-shaped planters overflowing with green and purple ivy.
Whimsical fabric chairs that look as if they were requisitioned from the attic of some unfortunate Ohio grandmother rest beneath the black wood tables, creating a stark, yet oddly amusing contrast. Gold metal trim and light marble flattops round out the decor giving Arlo Grey a look born of the imagination of Tim Burton and Baz Luhrmann. That being said, I dig it.
Every great meal is set up with a great drink, and Arlo Grey does not disappoint. The Line Old Fashioned is perfectly balanced and classically executed, tastefully finished with The Line Hotel logo pressed into the large square ice block using a copper stamp. As a fan of theater with my food, I couldn’t help but appreciate the touch.
Overall the cocktail menu is minimalist, yet witty and appropriate. The wine list contains an appreciable mix of vin de table options by the bottle and the glass, as well as a few more esteemed options if the mood suits you.
Finally, to the meat and potatoes of the review. Arlo Grey’s menu is trim and to the point. Wanting to get a spread of what is truly representative of Kish’s signature cuisine, we took lead from our water and started with the burrata and cucumber broth along with the sweet corn and baby carrot salad.
These two dishes were absolutely on point. The cucumber broth was bright and refreshing, pairing wonderfully with the wood-fire grilled bread and decadent burrata. The charred carrots were an excellent match for the sweet corn and tangy yogurt.
My favorite dish of the night was certainly the Malfaldini, Kish’s take on Beef Stroganoff. Sans beef, the Malfaldini gets is rich meaty flavor from the use of tender mushrooms and umami rich Parmesan cheese. The noodles themselves were also noteworthy; delicate and perfectly al dente.
Unfortunately, the biggest miss of the night was the Prawns & Grits. While expertly cooked, the dish lacked flavor and excitement. I would have loved to have had more of the spice and smoky flavor from the Calabrian peppers (as it was I could hardly recognize it). However, I must go on record saying that the Barton Springs milled white corn grits were a delight. Kudos for the local sourcing.
While it wasn’t a perfect showing, I count myself as impressed with the whimsy and execution shown by Chef Kish at Austin’s Arlo Grey. She took risks, got creative, and seemingly held true to herself and her heritage. AG is certainly a worthy addition to the Austin dining scene and I’m thankful to have had the chance to visit it.
For more information, or to make reservations for Arlo Grey, follow here.
Thanks for reading along and be sure to comment below with your own thoughts and experiences regarding Kristen Kish and Arlo Grey.