Okay bear with me people, while I digress for a moment. This blog is mostly about my adventures in Manhattan and it’s immediate surroundings (hey, I’m a Texan so that means a pretty wide swath of the northeast). But recently, I was called back to Austin for a flying trip to attend a dear friend’s funeral. (See www.whinesisters.com for more on that).
Anyway, besides seeing old friends and celebrating the life we had lost. I also had the opportunity to have a meal on Sunday at my favorite restaurant in the whole world. And I mean that literally as I’ve eaten at some pretty amazing places around the planet. Hyde Park Grill, in central Austin was first introduced to me in 1988, by my soon to be (okay he didn’t know it yet) husband. And I’ve been in love ever since (with both of them). A draw for all of Austin, I once stood in line waiting for a table behind Lyle Lovett. And I’m sure over the years there have been many other famous people as enamored of the food as I am.
Created in 1982 by owner Bick Brown, HPG occupied an old house in Hyde Park (a fabulous older neighborhood in Austin) across from Mother’s (another Austin institution). Formerly an Armenian Restaurant, according to the HPG website, Brown gutted the then pink house and returned it to its former glory. Indeed, the ship-lap walls and rooms turned to alcoves provides the perfect habitat for the art the restaurant showcases in exhibits that change every six weeks. We’ve even got a few pieces we bought from those same artists over the years.
And out front, serving to mark this fabulous eatery is a large silver fork—festooned as befits the season and/or the owners whims. That fork has held a hamburger, some french fries, a heart, what looked to be Bevo’s horns, a flower, and on occasion the whole wide world. A friend of ours once lived in a rental house owned by Brown and the various toppers were stored in the backyard.
But as with all restaurants the showpiece is of course the food! Although the menu is more diverse than when I first started going the mainstay is still the amazing french fries. Hyde Park fries are so good, that when we moved to Austria for a time, they were one of two recipes I desperately wanted to take with me. (And I have indeed made them several times—though they’re never quite as good as the ones on site). Dredged in seasoned flour and then dipped in buttermilk, the resulting crispy bits of heaven are then dipped into their famous sauce (mayo with jalapenos gives you a vague idea of what we’re talking about). I always ask for extra sauce.
The menu, full of comfort food items like mac and cheese and chicken fried steak, also has a full array of burgers and salads, fabulous sandwiches and some pretty serious entrees including potato crusted tilapia and New York strip (see you know I’d get the words New York in here somehow). But being a creature of habit I always order the same thing: the turkey muffaletta and fries.
Just to make your mouth water, here’s the restaurant’s description: Smoked turkey breast meat, mozzarella cheese and olive/garlic tapenade nestled in a Romano and parsley foccacia bun, then seared until crispy on both sides. Served with Creole mustard and a Kosher dill spear. O.M.G. Heaven. And Sunday did not disappoint.
Hyde Park promotes everything that is good about Austin. A little bit funky, a little bit artsy, the perfect place for good food and good friends.
4206 Duval St
Austin, TX 78751