First Look: Mettle East Side Bistro

My apologies for the lackluster photo…dark dining rooms + mediocre photog = less than lovely pics. I promise the food is much, much better than it looks!

Despite what you might have heard, Qui is not the only new hotspot heating up the East Side this summer. Mettle East Side Bistro, the newest venture from Rainey Street Don Bridget Dunlap, open its own hotly anticipated doors in May. After getting a promising preview of Mettle at an event last fall, I’ve been anxiously awaiting its opening. And, considering I began planning my return before leaving the parking lot, it’s safe to say the kitchen, helmed by Executive Chef Andrew Francisco, delivered.

Inspired by the classic bistro style of dining, the moderately priced menu offers a seasonally rotating selection of small plates and larger entrées that are both well executed and packed with innovation. Though the restaurant’s style of dining might be French, Francisco draws on his expansive travels to reinvigorate classic American dishes with flavors found anywhere from Mexico to Malaysia. The American-Italian favorite of spaghetti, for example, becomes a hearty pho-like dish created using traditional ingredients.

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Mettle ‘Spaghetti’

 I recommend starting with small plates like the mussels served in a curry-laced broth good enough to drink or beets paired with white chocolate, jalapeños, and goat cheese. Skip the nice but unremarkable salmon crudo in favor of an order of the outstanding tender beef tongue street tacos. Served with a batch of freshly made tortillas, these tacos would standout at any top Mexican restaurant.

Mussels in Curry Broth

Mussels in Curry Broth

Salmon Crudo

Salmon Crudo

Unsurprisingly, the former Olivia chef de cuisine hits it out of the park with his rendition of juicy fried chicken coated in a crispy crust. For something a bit lighter, the grain salad makes for a solid option thanks to its simplicity and freshness. While the aforementioned ‘spaghetti’ is full of comforting goodness, the other Italian-inspired dish, a tomato soup with gnocchi dumplings, was too rich to be a crowd pleaser.

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Fried Chicken

Grain Salad

Grain Salad

As for the restaurant itself, the casual, bustling atmosphere is almost equally enjoyable as Mettle’s delicious food. With Rainey Street officially bursting at the seams, Dunlap chose a spot far enough East to ensure ample room to grow. Mettle boasts both an expansive bar and main dining room, making it an ideal group dining spot (reservations recommended). While there aren’t too many spots nearby to grab a pre-dinner cocktail, Mettle’s patio makes for a perfectly relaxing place to enjoy a cocktail such as an expertly crafted East Side (Tom) Collins. Along with the house specialty cocktail menu, Mettle also offers beer and a number of well-priced, food-friendly boutique wines.

Visit Mettle East Side Bistro at 507 Calles Street, Austin TX 78702 for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch Tuesday through Sunday.

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2 comments to First Look: Mettle East Side Bistro

  • jim stevens

    Was not impressed by this place. I saw an early menu and was excited until each item I tried to order was no longer on the menu. The burger was terrible and dry. Overall this place is kind of awful.

    • Ginny

      Out of most items? Very frustrating indeed! The burger was one of the only items we didn’t try, but sounds like that was a good move on our part. Not sure when you visited, but hopefully my experience means they are working out their kinks.