Fork & Vine: A Dining Guide Pick
By Karen Spezia
Photography by Brendan Puthoff
The Southern-inspired global cuisine revolutionizing Anderson Lane.
There’s a quiet little renaissance happening on Anderson Lane, where restaurants are sprouting like toadstools along this bustling uptown corridor. One of the newest — and best — is Fork & Vine.
I first visited the restaurant on a rainy, dreary night, but found the inside was welcoming and cheerful. Tucked away in the corner of a shopping center, Fork & Vine beckoned with the warm glow of seductive lighting and polished wood. Its industrial chic design — compliments of architect Dick Clark + Associates — was a stylish blend of urbane and rustic, with some walls covered in sleek black subway tiles complimented by others painted deep burgundy. Rooms were divided by luxurious drapes and glass garage doors. There were booths, wooden dining tables, and bistro high-tops. A cozy wine nook accommodated a dozen diners and an outdoor patio was shaded by a wooden arbor. Even the flatware and plates reflected the unique, thoughtful decor.
As we shook off the rain, our sunny waitress, Kaylan, went over the menu and specials. Rarely have I had a server as enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Other servers seemed equally attentive and during their brief idle time, I noticed them fussing over table settings and polishing wine glasses.
Fork & Vine’s global cuisine has a Southern slant, and we started with the signature pork ribs. Perfectly charred and slathered in a mayo and horseradish-based white sauce, they arrived in a sizzling cast iron skillet atop tender barbecued peanuts that mimicked baked beans. It was a lip-smacking, finger-licking good start to our meal. Next came a refreshing, inventive salad composed of arugula, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, and sweet carrots prepared three ways: roasted, sliced, and shaved. Tossed in coriander vinaigrette and accented with zingy-orange slices, it was simply delicious.
For entrees, the fried chicken was outstanding. Crispy and succulent, the free-range bird was drizzled with shishito pepper hot sauce and served with a savory potato, leek, and fennel cake along with a unique slaw of cabbage, kale, and grapes tossed in a maple dressing. Less successful was a side of grilled vegetables that were unevenly cooked and coated in a pasty Thai curry. We ended on a high note, however. The chocolate torte was divine: dark and dense, but not too sweet or heavy, and crowned with homemade marshmallow ice cream. Heaven.
As its name implies, Fork & Vine is as much about the wine as the food. The wine list has hundreds of tempting bottles, but there’s also a large craft beer selection and a full bar. During our meal, we took advantage of a half-price sparkling wine special and ordered a bottle of Bonomi Franciacorta, an elegant selection from Lombardy, Italy, that nicely complemented all of our dishes.
Chef/owner Camden Stuerzenberger is both creative and talented, and I suspect his restaurant will emerge as one of Anderson Lane’s — and Austin’s — brightest culinary stars. In fact, Fork & Vine was recently voted CultureMap’s Best New Restaurant. The word is out, and the sun is shining down on Fork & Vine.