Trainspotting a trend: British gastropub franchise in Austin? A culinary double-take at Haddington’s

Above: The kitchen at the newly opened British gastropub Haddington’s in Austin still needs to work out the Kinks, Beatles, and Stones, but we really dug their more than reasonably priced sparkling wine list, including this Crémant du Jura by Montbourgeau (delicious) and a Gaston Chiquet Champagne Special Club (that will surely lure me back when in the mood/occasion for celebrating).

One of my magazine editors (for a food and wine pub I contribute to) likes to remind me that it “takes three examples” to constitute a bona fide trend. Between the Spotted Pig (technically and self-consciously “British and Italian”) in NYC, Jaynes Gastropub in San Diego (familiar to regular visitors here), and now Haddington’s in Austin, I think it’s safe to say that the second (third?) British wave has begun.

I did a culinary double-take when Tracie P and I arrived chez Haddington last night, not knowing — frankly — what to expect aside from the fact that the place is brand-spanking new and that Tracie P and I needed a great glass of wine after a Friday that was too long for both of us.

Tiled floor? Check. French windows? Check. Open kitchen (replete with stressed-out chefs)? Check. Monty Python-worthy relics and paraphernalia of the fallen British empire? Check. Hipster play list with emphasis on retro? Check. Gourmet-aspirant pub (read comfort) food? Checkmate (I had the Bibb Salad with blue cheese and pickled watermelon rind and the “Blue Burger”; Tracie P had a turkey and stuffing sandwich with cranberry relish).

Haddington’s was packed to the gills last night and although I think the kitchen is still working out some of the kinks that any new (and immediately popular) restaurant has to unravel, the impressive sparkling wine list will certainly bring us back. A stiff glass of Gérard Mugneret 08 Bourgogne Rouge was also nice with my main course.

2010 saw so many new restaurants open in Austin (which, according to most reports and eyeball witnesses continues to lead the country in its growth as a tourism destination) and the Austin food blogger community is thrilled (clearly) by this new edition (pun intended for Sam). I’m sure we’ll revisit Haddington’s but there’s only room for one British gastropub in our hearts… and her name is Jaynes…

The sweetest reward: one of the best figs I have ever eaten

francesco secchi

Above: Sardinian-born Francesco Secchi, owner of the Ferrari Italian Villa chain in Dallas grows all of his own herbs, including Sardinian mirto (myrtle). Who needs Viagra?

It’s getting to be that time of year that people start bragging about their fig trees. There are those who brag and those who deliver.

Italian Wine Guy and I had dinner last night with clients of mine, Francesco Secchi and his son Stefano (below), owners of Ferrari Italian Villa in Grapevine (Dallas). The food was very good, but the figs… aaaaaaahhhhh the figs… the figs wrapped in perfectly sliced prosciutto were FANTASTIC. The 30-minute trip from Downtown Dallas to Grapevine (where Stefano presides over the kitchen) is a small price to pay for this paradisiacal experience. I highly recommend the wood-fired flatbread and antipasti misti. (It’s so hard to find well-sliced prosciutto, btw, anywhere in the U.S. and I was thoroughly impressed by Stefano’s deft hand at the slicer.)

stefano secchi

In other news, I’d like to thank the academy…

Our friend Howard and fellow lover of natural wine has been inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences! Mazel tov, Howard! I can’t believe you’d join a club that would have you as a member!


Jaynes Gastropub was named one of the top 5 gastropubs in the U.S., together with the Linkery (also in San Diego) and the Spotted Pig (NYC). Not too shabby, mates! And they said this whole gastropub thing would never take off! ;-)

Btw, I’ll be announcing some very exciting news about me, Tracie B, and Jaynes in just a day or so… stay tuned…

In other other news…

After running a wine dinner in San Antonio on Monday night and then working the market all day yesterday and today in Dallas, I cannot wait to get home to my super fine lady, the lovely Tracie B, tonight. Her nachos and some natural and stinky old natural Dolcetto di Dogliani happily await me. Life could be worse…

tracie branch