Friday, August 22, 2014

New spot for North Austin - Punch Bowl Social

Luke and I moved to north Austin two and a half years ago, and I've loved seeing the influx of restaurants and entertainment in the area, especially in and around the Domain. They just announced a new Kerbey Lane opening one mile from my house! (dangerous....)

Typically when I'm invited to media events, it's for a sassy new place downtown, on the east side or south. Imagine my surprise when I confirmed the location and it was just a stone's throw away in the Domain!

Punch Bowl Social is kind of like the Goodnight or the Highball, but much bigger. They've got bowling, shuffleboard, ping pong, darts, arcade games, billiards and more, not to mention a restaurant and bustling bar. This pregnant lady finds it a bit difficult to bowl these days, so we focused on the food and drinks :) Another complaint I hear from fellow north Austinites is that there aren't many places that are open until the wee hours, even in the Domain, so I'm sure they'll be pleased to know Punch Bowl Social is open until 2 a.m. every night! (Hey, maybe Baby Robison and I will make an appearance during a late night feeding/diaper change... psych!).

Their grand opening is tomorrow, August 23 at 7 p.m. - tickets (at the door or on Facebook) are $10 and there will be free menu and punch samplings, along with games and live music. 

Now on to the food. I imagine Punch Bowl Social will appeal to companies to host large parties (especially with places like National Instruments just down the road), but it would also be a great way for a group of friends to go out or to celebrate a birthday. A lot of their food reminds me of a party style, and they even had a table set up with trays of food. Can I say this is the most impressive veggie tray I've ever seen? Love the purple cauliflower and carrots, endive and radishes. The cheese and charcuterie plates were epic too. And my table was impressed with the blintzes, saying these were the first ones we'd had that we liked - the ricotta tasted really high quality which was nice.

I'm embarrassed/not really that my favorite thing was the truffled potato chips. They tasted kind of earthy, like truffles should, not just doused in truffle oil like can often happen with truffle fries (though I love those too - don't get me wrong). You'd be remiss not to get these on your visit!

Another hit was the deviled eggs, which included a bacon jam on top - nice! The filling was really substantial - almost like mashed potatoes meets egg yolks?

One thing I was really impressed by on my recent trip to the west coast was that almost every restaurant I went to had a dedicated mocktail menu. I'm not talking about fountain soda and maybe a fresh lemonade, but actual mocktails that were delicious and made me not feel like I was missing out. I feel like that trend hasn't really hit Austin, and you typically have to tell the bartender what you generally like in a cocktail and cross your fingers while they give you stink eye and mix something at the bar. I was pleased that they had four different house-made sodas with special syrups they make in house. I tried the grapefruit and the strawberry with rhubarb bitters versions, but they also had one with cantaloupe and another with cucumber and jalapeno.

The cocktail portion is brought to you by Luke:

You didn't think we were going to the Punch Bowl Social without talking about the punch did you?  I tried three different drinks: One with mezcal, one with moscato-flavored SKY vodka, and one with chai tea, coconut, and rum.  All were very refreshing, but my favorite by far was the rum&chai.  None of the drinks were overly strong or sweet. 

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