The Trace Mission:
“Trace is committed to creating an enriching and thoughtful culinary experience by fusing the vibrant, local personality with our commitment to integrity and socially responsible food. Our high-quality, conscious cuisine is prepared from locally foraged and sourced, sustainable ingredients – or obtained through national partners with well-known sustainable practices. We hope you’ll enjoy your meal, which can be confidently traced back to its natural origins.”
The above is a statement from the menu, at the TRACE Restaurant at the new W Hotel in downtown Austin.
I had been anxiously awaing the opening of TRACE , since I learned that Valerie Broussard, had been hired as the forager for the restaurant. I don’t know another person in Austin with as much knowledge of sustainable practices, and sourcing as Valerie, whom I met through Slow Food Austin.
So, upon first visit, courtesy of the resturant, we were provided tastes of several dishes – Winter’s Garden Salad, which was delicious with Compressed Apple, Carrots and Hazelnut Vinaigrette, Beef Tartare with Quail Egg, and Frisee, also delicious, Braised Beef Short Rib, Glazed Salsify, Wild Mushrooms, and Beef Consomme which was wonderful, and Farmed Pork Belly with Pineapple, Lemongrass and Organic Bananas. I was not a fan of the Pineapple and Bananas with the pork belly.
I then returned a week later for dinner with friends. We had a gift certificate, so we tried several things and passed them around. The Octopus and Chistora on Grilled Bread was wonderful, the Mac and Cheese, With Pulled Ham Hock was very good, although we didn’t get much of the ham hock flavor. The Crispy Snapper with Pistachio Pesto and Grilled Local Grouper with Pecan Crumble, Cocunut Emulsion, and Basil Oil were both delicious. The Rabbit Pot Pie was enormous, with Tarragon Bechemel, Carrots, Roasted Spatzle and Mustard Seed Crust and it was very good. For dessert we got the Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding and the Blood Orange with Tres Leches Cake and Tarragon Ice Cream. I don’t love sweets but I would order the Tarragon Ice Cream again, just by itself. The others loved the not too sweet Bread Pudding as well.
I have heard from friends that the Brunch at TRACE was wonderful. I have also heard of some misses on the menu, which I intentionally avoided – a Scallop and Beet dish that didn’t live up to expectations, and the Tres Leches cake was not memorable.
I can’t wait to go back for lunch to try the Rabbit BLT. This being the Year of the Rabbit and all, I’m resolving to eat more rabbit.
I’m amazed at the effort to source locally and sustainably, for a restaurant of such scale, considering that they serve 3 meals a day, in addition to providing room service. But I see Valerie at the SFC Farmer’s Market every Saturday and I know if anyone can pull it off, she can. TRACE is doing a great job so far.