Much has been written about the East Austin restaurant Qui, by food critics far more knowledgeable and talented than I. I have no intentions of waxing poetic about the perfect combinations of sweet, salty and umami (though I would love to) or the creative use of platting or the brilliant interior decorating. As we slowly get ready to transition towards spring, one of my favorite months in Austin, I wanted to touch on what it's like to have a great restaurant like Qui right in your neighborhood.
When Qui was just getting ready to open. I was super excited to have such a top notch restaurant right in my neighborhood, but guess what. When it finally did open, I found myself walking right past the door and into the Liberty to grab a beer and some Chicken Karaage from East Side King. I'm not sure if I was intimidated by the big white building or what, but it almost felt too nice for the east side.
The first time I ate there was many months later when some friends were in town. A group of us managed to make our way through the entire menu (this is before they were prix fixe) and quite a few cocktails. Though the menu was full of lots of fancy stuff I had never heard of, I was pleasantly surprised by how unpretentious all the staff were. I've been back several times since, often for special occasions or celebrations, but sometimes just to sit at the bar and have some amazing food and conversation.
Perhaps some of my favorite visits were last summer when they launched Kebobs with Rob on their patio. While dinner reservations fill up quickly inside the outside space with it's pulutan menu almost always has room for walk ups. Kebabs with Rob make this already favorable situation even better by throwing in some delicious kebabs cooked on a Green Egg into the mix. The food is just as delicious as the stuff inside, it's reasonably priced, and makes the perfect neighborhood hang out.
Despite the amazing culinary accomplishments, the one thing that I think Paul Qui deserves the most accolades for is the one thing that rarely gets mentioned. His passionate support of other artists, designers, growers, and all around great people in Austin, all of which came together to make Qui what it is today. How great is it that while riding the wave of success, Paul has gone out of his way to lift up others around him. You can check out some videos of all the people that helped collaborate on Qui on their website.
Speaking of shout outs, a huge thank you to my friend Michael aka The Netted Pigeon for all the gorgeous photos shown here. There is more great stuff on his website. Enjoy.