The Best of Austin

Bon Appetit's 10 best: A (David) Bullish Year at Congress Restaurant

Bon Appetit's 10 best: A (David) Bullish Year at Congress Restaurant

Austin Photo Set: News_Jessica Dupuy_Chef David Bull_August 2011_david bull
Executive Chef David Bull Photo by Marshall Wright
Austin Photo: news_Michael_Congress Austin_Esquire's best bar's in America_may2011_bar
Congress Austin Photo by Casey Dunn
Austin Photo Set: News_Jessica Dupuy_Chef David Bull_August 2011_david bull
Austin Photo: news_Michael_Congress Austin_Esquire's best bar's in America_may2011_bar

You combine the perfectionism of Chef David Bull, the creativity of bar manager Adam Bryan, the impeccable judgment of sommelier June Rodil, the subtly sweet palate of pastry chef Plinio Sandalio and savvy restaurateur Jeff Trigger and what do you have? A recipe for success.

 Once a Tex-Mex and barbecue Mecca—and there’s nothing wrong with that—the Capital City now competes in the national arena with Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Portland as a culinary destination. 

Such is the case with relative newcomer Congress Restaurant.

This week, national recognition comes in the form of a Top Ten elevation. Bon Appetit magazine's September issue names Congress one of their 10 Best New Restaurants in America for 2011. And this is likely only the beginning for the James Beard award-winning chef.

“Congress and Second [Bar and Grill] have changed downtown dining for the better,” says Tom Thornton, food writer for the Austinist. “Where Congress really shines is with service. It is bar none the best in town right now. The wine list is also full of quite a few hard-to-find collectibles, from grower Champagnes to cult Washington wines. It is encouraging to see places like Congress, Uchiko, and Barley Swine in the national food magazines this year; it's a reflection of how far Austin dining has come in the last five years.”

‘Far’ is the operative word. Once a Tex-Mex and barbecue Mecca—and there’s nothing wrong with that—the Capital City now competes in the national arena with Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Portland as a culinary destination thanks to places such as Congress, Uchiko, and Barley Swine as Thornton aptly states. 

Chef Bull has always been one to show confidence in his work, but also give credit to his unwavering team of loyal staff, all of whom have helped elevate Congress to the top tier of Austin’s food scene almost before it opened early this year.

From the toasty, buttery frenchy-French bundt breads that arrive at your table fresh from the oven, to items such as tête à cochon and whiskey bacon on the evolving daily menu, Chef Bull never ceases to amaze. Especially now that he's able to explore his unparalleled creativity in his very own restaurant concept. Having managed such well-known kitchens at the Driskill Hotel and Stoneleigh Hotel’s Bolla in Dallas, he now has free reign to make what is most accurately described as his cuisine. Not French, not American, not Italian, not nouveau, and certainly not someone else’s boxed-in vision, but somewhere magically in between. The result is unequivocal palate-pleasing heaven, as well as a significant coup for the Austin dining scene. Simply judging from the petite dining room alone, swathed in off-white cushioned seating, booths and table cloths; you know you’re in for an experience of gravity, if not purely precious. 

Chef Bull, the mild-mannered, behind-the-scenes kitchen genius may blush at the Bon Appetit recognition, but he’s no doubt smiling (and maybe even pumping his fists) back in the depths of his pristine kitchen—and patting his team on the back. What better way to round out a momentous year—and it’s only August!