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Creative, Clever, Crafty Creations at Foreign & Domestic

It’s time to take a short break from our New York blogging and return to our beloved Austin food scene. Thanks to Chef Paul Qui of Uchi, we were directed to the newly born Foreign and Domestic, led by a husband and wife duo with dynamic, culinary experiences. From the moment we drove up and eyed the quaint joint, we were enamored to see what Chefs Ned and Jodie had in store for us.

Arriving early on a Friday allowed us to have the seat of our choice, which involved three seating options: inside bar with view of chefs at work, inside table, or outside seating. We jumped at the chance to get up close and watch the chef and his team in action. In this small intimate setting, the design allowed adequate dining space with a cozy, but comfortable feeling. The music and interior gave us a sense of young and hip in a neighborhood setting. Chef Ned graciously permitted us to photograph what was ahead.

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Chefs Ned & Jodie

The menu was very interesting and had so many dishes that we wanted to try.

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The libation list was modest, but had some interesting choices. The Cyclist is a mixture of ginger beer, session lager and preserved lemon syrup. We had this and a glass of the Rioja white and found both to be nice.

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White Rioja and Cyclist

With that, we were off to the races and ready to try what these chefs had to offer. Having read Chefs Ned and Jodie’s bios that include stints for Ned under Chef Alain Ducasse, one year on the opening team at Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York (which the Keeper team also recently visited), and one year at Picholine, and Chef Jodie’s pastry work at Gramercy Tavern, The Savoy Hotel in London, Bouley, Per Se, Peacock Alley in the Waldorf Astoria, and Michael Symon’s Parea, needless to say, our expectations were high. (Another Chef Factoid- Chef Jodie rapidly ascended as the Pastry Chef of Parea and earned a two-star review from the New York Times.)

At the bar, Chef Ned presented and explained each dish to us. We started off with a salad of fresh lettuces and vegetables with fresh peaches and a raspberry dressing. This was very light, fresh and a good start for our palettes to prepare for the next dish.

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“Almost Summer” Fresh Greens, Artichokes, Fresh Grilled Peaches, Rhubarb, Raspberry Champagne Vinaigrette

The second dish was our dish of the night and a real “wow” experience. Chef took Grilled Baby Octopus topped with foamed almond milk and “shattered” garlic and placed over a bed of Chickpea purée. This dish started to unveil the creative and clever ingredient combinations of Chef. The Baby Octopus were cooked to perfection and the texture was perfect and not at all chewy. The chickpea purée had to be the best we had ever had with a unique spice flavor that was interesting, but not overdone. The foamed milk was a draw on the eye and another texture and flavor that added, but was not too much. Finally the “shattered” garlic was very unique and tasty. Chef explained that the garlic is a long process with the final step before shattering described as drying the flattened garlic on silpat in the oven for 20 hours! We would order this dish again and again.

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“Grilled Baby Octopus” Chickpeas, Almond Milk, Shattered Garlic

Our third dish was Venison Spare Ribs over a bed of Braised Hearts of Celery and Piquillo Peppers, complemented with a celery vinaigrette, and a blue cheese panna cotta. We loved the ingenious use of flavors and textures by the Chef. Chef explained that these were Axis Ribs from Broken Arrow that had been braised for many hours and then finished on the grill to give it a sear. The Venison Spare Ribs were perfectly tender, and the flavor was not too gamey. The ribs provided a great backdrop for the light spices that the Chef combined in this dish. The nice surprise was the blue cheese panna cotta. It was not overpowering and gave a nice contrast in texture and flavor to the ribs and veggies in the bowl. Our only suggestion on this dish is for the server to warn the diner of some small bones and cartilage in the ribs. These can be easily removed and would enhance the dining experience.

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“Axis Venison Spare Ribs” Celery Vinaigrette Cabrales Panna Cotta, Celery Leaves, Piquillo Peppers

Next up – Griddled Chicken with Corn Pudding, Pole Beans, Pig Ear Cracklins, and a sherry vinegar. Chef explained that the chicken (which is a combination of breast and thigh) is cooked sous vide to maintain moisture and then griddled right before serving. The corn pudding was fantastic (side note: this is coming from a person who rarely enjoys corn pudding as I typically find it too sweet). The sherry vinegar calmed the sweetness of the corn as well. The texture of the beans were a nice addition. We asked Chef about the Cracklins and he said that they scrape off the cartilage and the skin to make these cracklins.

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“Griddled Chicken” Corn Pudding, Pole Beans, Cracklins, Sherry Vinegar

With Chef Jodie’s mastery of pastry, we couldn’t leave without trying a dessert. The chocolate and bacon immediately caught our eye as both of these ingredients are favorites of some of our Keeper team! The dessert continued the theme of creative, clever, and crafty. Rich chocolate covered a smoky piece of bacon with contrasting, but complementary textures.

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Chocolate and Bacon

This dining was a “must go back” experience. The type of experience that we plan to recommend to many friends in the near future. Hats off to Chefs Ned and Jodie, especially considering it was only their second night to be open. We hated to leave anything, even the sauces, on our plates, so next time we will ask for a spoon to be sure to slurp it all up!

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