306 E. 53RD ST.
MATTHEW ODAM / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Foreign & Domestic changed the way Austinites thought about neighborhood restaurants when it opened a decade ago. Seriousness about ingredients, skilled technique and a nose-to-tail ethos imbued the tight, energetic space. Chefs and partners Sarah Heard and Nathan Lemley have reenergized the concept over the last two years and polished the hallmarks, putting their passion into gourmet comfort food. It’s Texas farm country meets French bistro. A place unafraid of butter and salt. An animated restaurant that gives you the sense that the two people running it want it to succeed, need it to succeed, and are going to show up nightly to make sure it does.
It’s a spirited gathering place that reminds us of the joys of our shift to fine-casual culture a decade ago and serves as an example of what heights that concept can achieve. The kitchen gets out of the way and lets ingredients speak for themselves on a blueberry salad brightened by lemon jam and ricotta, and a goat cheese-slathered tartine serving as a bed of dewberry jewels. Plump Parisian gnocchi and meaty oyster mushrooms awash in koji butter and chargrilled pork studded with barley and complemented by peach mostarda represent the kitchen at its maximalist best, and rich, oily goat heart Bolognese mounded on tensile spaghetti continues in the nose-to-tail tradition at the restaurant’s core. Country comfort is completed by a slice of buttermilk pie supporting an orb of late-summer peach leaf ice cream. Now more than ever, Foreign & Domestic feels like home.
Statesman review: New owners give Foreign & Domestic a delicious tune-up