Dining Guide to Local Austin Restaurants
By Karen Spezia
Photography by Kate Lesueur
Goodall’s Kitchen & Bar fills a niche and fills it well. Located in an area scarce with stylish dining options–south of The Drag, north of the Capitol–this winning new restaurant provides an upscale, full-service option greatly needed in the hood. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and cocktails, Goodall’s is tucked inside the historic Hotel Ella, formerly The Mansion at Judges Hill. The stately 47-room inn recently changed ownership and reopened in September with a new look and name. Renovated by über architect Michael Hsu and renamed after one of UT’s founding families, the hotel and its restaurant have emerged as worthy new players in Austin’s hospitality scene.
Hsu’s redesign judiciously retained the property’s historic charm while making it feel fresh and contemporary. And the food at Goodall’s reflects the scenery: timeless yet modern, classic yet current, understated yet impressive. For starters, customarily boring lentil soup is elevated to new heights by bright vegetables and a dollop of tart yogurt. Salads sing with fresh, peppery greens and sublime, simple vinaigrettes. The rack of lamb is terrific, grilled to perfection, and accompanied by the yin-yang of tangy eggplant-chili relish and sweet, rich whipped parsnips. A tasty side of creamed spinach is studded with parmesan cheese and poblano peppers. At lunch, lighter options include sandwiches and salads. And breakfast offers up classics like oatmeal and French toast.
Save room for dessert. The almond cake with fresh berries and basil cream is a deliciously restrained confection that’s both light and decadent. Nutella crème brûlée is topped with sea salt and is lick-the-spoon good.
If you enjoy wine, opt for the three-course, prix-fixe wine pairing dinner that’s not only thoughtfully-matched, but also reasonably priced at $55. Or seek out your own favorites on the well-rounded wine list, where I found at least one great value in each category and was delighted to discover six rosé choices.
Across the lobby from the dining room is Goodall’s Bar and it’s a charmer. Cozy and classy, it’s a great place to tuck in for a drink among the handful of tables or at the small but majestic marble bar. They take pride in their cocktail program at Goodall’s and it shows. Each drink is served in its proper glass, including chilled copper mugs for Moscow Mules. The ice is top-notch. And the knowledgeable bartender is helpful without the attitude (take note hipster mixologists). There’s even a separate bar menu for those wanting a quick, casual bite.
Service at Goodall’s is unfailingly polite and Food & Beverage Director Johannes Lehberger will make you feel right at home. Valet parking is complimentary. With its updated new persona, Goodall’s is worth seeking out no matter where you live or work. Welcome to the hood.