Waaaay back in the day when Austin was a little, quiet college town, when good restaurants were few, and Rick Perry was just a governor with a dream to be on Dancing With The Stars, there was a 24-hour diner where all Austinites plopped into a padded booths to down enchiladas and pumpkin pancakes with a side of attitude. Kerbey Lane has been an Austin standard for decades, but has seen more competition since Austin’s food scene began blowing up in the last few years.
Now that Austin has turned into the home of Top Chef contestants and award-winning chefs, we don’t go to Kerbey Lane as often as we used to, but “The Kerb” (no one calls it that) has stepped up their game. Well not game exactly, more like cattle.
Texas grown Akaushi beef is the star of Kerbey’s new fall menu. Not to insult your intelligence (but to demonstrate mine) Akaushi is a breed of Japanese Wagyu marbled beef that’s got some bite to it without being too chewy. It’s locally raised and is great grilled or ground.
Food Banjo was invited to try out the new menu and here is our take on some of our favorites:
- Eggplant Tartine – Served on a pita, this was a great veggie eggplant mini pizza. Goes great with a beer, falls into the comfort food category, and something I could eat all day.
- Frito Pie – A traditional favorite and something I had never heard of before moving to Texas. For the uninitiated, this is usually chili served in an opened bag of Fritos. Kerbey’s version uses Akaushi beef and a few extras – minus the bag. It’s as good as it sounds…or maybe better, now that I reread my lame description of it.
- Texas Street Tacos – You can get tacos in a million places in Austin, but only half-a-million are any good. This is one of them, again served with Akaushi beef. The star of this dish though is the refried black beans – best I’ve ever had. Ever.
- Pork Belly Francisco – A break from the beef for some pork belly: it’s not always used effectively, but when done well it’s great. Here it’s served with eggs and fresh avocado and queso, making it good for breakfast, or breakfast-for-dinner.
- The Pompeii Burger – The caramelized onions and sundried tomato pesto are great, but the ground Akaushi beef patty makes this burger stand out from a lot of the specialty burgers around town. While those are often savory they tend to be softer patties with a similar texture to the bun, making me often miss the texture of the burger. The Pompeii reminds me what eating a burger should feel like.
And their traditionally fall pumpkin pancakes and pie? Well apparently there’s a pumpkin shortage (no really! I Googled it!) and I couldn’t be happier after tasting their sweet potato pie. Caramel notes, without being too sweet and a bit out of the ordinary. And I’m pretty sure it’s good for you.