The wait is over for Boiler Nine, one of the most anticipated Austin restaurant openings in recent memory. The ambitious three-level concept from La Corsha Hospitality Group at the renovated Seaholm Power Plant is now in full operation; its final component, Deck Nine Observatory Bar, opens Tuesday.
The centerpiece of the three concepts, Boiler Nine Bar + Grill, is a bright and airy restaurant with a menu that focuses on wood-fired items with international flavors. Next up is The Boiler Room, a super-cool basement bar near the boiler of the former power plant. Deck Nine Observatory Bar is a casual rooftop bar with picnic-style tables and a menu of snacks and drinks to match the atmosphere.
The project’s architects and designers worked to preserve as much of the power plant as possible, giving the space a comfy, contemporary look that does not hide the building's past. Original beams mingle with custom-made steel and wood tables, and the floor-to-ceiling glass walls give it an open, sunny feel. Diners at Boiler Nine who wish to check out the action can sit at the chef's counter that faces the open kitchen and hearth.
Expectations were high, and so far, Executive Chef Jason Stude (formerly of Second Bar + Kitchen) and his outstanding team do not disappoint. The food, as expected, is original, playful, and extremely well executed. Acclaimed chef David Bull, La Corsha partner and executive chef at Second Bar + Kitchen, was working alongside Stude during our visit. Cocktails are the brainchild of superstar Jason Stevens. The superb wine program comes courtesy of Paula Rester, who focuses on boutique labels and varietals seldom seen in Austin.
The menu at Boiler Nine consists mostly of seasonal small plates with a few entrees. We started our meal with the Lambic peach sour, a cocktail with peach Lambic, bergamot bourbon, ginger honey, lemon, and mint — the perfect antidote for summer. We also tried the Devil's Cup on tap, which blends a house-made Pimm's with black currant liqueur, ginger beer, lemon, and herbs served over crushed ice in a frosty copper cup garnished with mint and vinegar-macerated berries.
For dinner, we swooned over the umami laden Berkshire pork ribs, with fish sauce glaze and crisp cucumber salad, and the incredibly rich crispy chicken thigh confit, served over chicken liver mousse and garnished with mezcal honey and smoked pickles. The charred and shaved beef is a great summer dish, quickly seared then sliced and served cold with caper berries, bottarga, aioli, arugula, Calabrese chilies, and shaved Grana Padano.
Walking down to The Boiler Room feels like you've teleported to an entirely different place and time. The space is dark and chilly, with thick concrete walls and low lighting. Stevens' cocktail menu, titled Playlist, features "tunes" that range from Led Zeppelin to Dolly Parton.
We enjoyed the refreshing Young Americans, made with Ford's Dry Gin, Cocchi Americano, chamomile infusion, ruby grapefruit juice, and lemon, and the boozy Beast of Burden, made with 12-year bourbon, overproof rye, almond, red vermouth, and cocoa bitters. Bourbon lovers must try The Ocean, a can of Oskar Blues Old Chub with a shot of Perpetual, a house-made blend of three different bourbons including a proprietary Whistling Pig Seaholm bottling.
The food menu at The Boiler Room is heavy on snacks, with items like oak-roasted Castelvetrano olives seasoned with oregano and chilies; a tin of Sicilian sardines dressed with lemon aioli and a citrusy herb salad accompanied by a sensational sesame cracker; and chilled shrimp tossed with avocado cubes, cucumber, and cilantro with roasted shishitos and corn tostadas on the side.
Emerging from this scene to check out Deck Nine is weird and wonderful. The rooftop watering hole is laid-back, serving gussied up American classics like Frito pie, popcorn, and pimento cheese. Beverages include beer, wine, three cocktails on tap, and a couple of frozen options, but the best are the pick-your-booze cocktails, which you can order as a single serving or as a bottle for four. Take for example the Cardinal, a blend of white grapefruit and Oaxaca hibiscus cordial with your choice of tequila blanco, rhum agricole, or vodka.
The view is nice, enhanced by the train tracks, which tie into the industrial past of the building, now one of the hottest destinations in the city.