Austin may be known for Mexican food, and for good reason – if you’ve ever devoured the delectable treats at Tamale House or El Primo Taco Deli, you’ll know what I mean. But that’s far from the only notable cuisine you’ll find in Austin. qui (yes, it’s spelled all lowercase) has made quite a name for itself with its quirky, haute take on fusion cuisine. That’s right, fusion – in the right hands, it is far from dead. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear people exclaim qui the “best food they’ve ever had.”
Chef Paul Qui, something of a repeat–champion chef – in recent years, he’s won James Beard, Top Chef and Young Chef of the Year at the S. Pellegrino Cooking Cup in Venice – imbues the delicacy of traditional Asian ingredients with a seasonal palette of the best French cooking and the peppery kick of his home state of Texas. “The Fish Toast,” with Amberjack with Mojo Verde, Thai Chili and Trout Roe is a favorite. As is the dry aged “Côte du Bœuf for 2, or 3... or 6” (often referred to round these parts as a cowboy steak), a dry-aged Niman Ranch cut of beef that the haughtiest and most down to earth can agree is sublime. The brick-and- mortar location, set right near the center of the SXSW action in East Austin, offers a wonderful respite from the numbers in it’s airy room and patio – bathed in gorgeous blue & white batiks. It’s the perfect place for an eccentric, delicious cocktail. Oh, and did I mention the Cheddar Cheese Ice Cream?