Review: Foreign & Domestic

22 January 2016

After about 36 hours of decompressing in San Antonio after my Mexico City trip, I had a long day en route to Austin. Last night’s dinner at Cured was fantastic, and it fuelled me through a very, very difficult call I had to make in the morning before I headed north. A stop in San Marcos to check on a project was fantastic, and I feel far more confident about something that’s been in the pipeline for a few years now — glad my confidence in a project is proven right.

I fought the ugly traffic to get into Austin — all thanks to an abandoned (!!) pick-up truck in the fast-lane…Texas drivers… Got to my hotel, dropped stuff off, and headed to dinner at Foreign & Domestic. I read a lot of good things about this place, so was looking forward to this dinner, to cap off a surprisingly good day.

It was pretty busy on this Friday night as I was seated at the counter. Menu looked interesting and I placed my order after grabbing a cocktail. I chilled and soon my starter arrived, the fried pigs ears and Brussels sprouts…

pigs ears - sprouts

Well, it wasn’t quite what I had imagined. Sorry for the not-quite-in-focus photo but I see my camera had issues with this dish as much as I did. I imagine the pigs ears were nice and crispy at one point, but not anymore. What happened here is an unfortunate overdose of a very acidic house-made fish sauce. Instead of adding to the flavour, what it did was (1) drench the sprouts and (2) mess up the collagen in the ears to the point they tasted like glue wrapped around cartilage. So many cooking 101’s broken here…

Not a great start, I actually abandoned half of this plate. It was very acidic, something I didn’t need after that terrible pH-tanking tasting menu at Mexico City’s Quintonil a few days ago. Plus all the wine for the past few days. Not good. Then the main course arrived…


Erm, quail and snails. First of all the snails were utterly undercooked and tasted almost raw. It was disgusting, and this is from a guy who eats snails everywhere he goes. The quail wasn’t bad, but honestly nothing special about it. Nowhere near as good as that amazing quail at Ö in Tallinn, but rather underwhelming. Seems very sloppy execution here.

And at this point I was losing patience with the service too. Sure it was busy but there’s something off-kilter here. My server was the friendliest guy when trying to upsell things (even trying to talk me into the meat-for-two dish), but nowhere to be found when you need anything. In fact, I see servers just hanging out at times when I needed service, almost like there was very poor floor management (or my server was being hazed with too big of a section).

All this really made this a way, way less-than-stellar evening, so I did what I could and roughly consumed most of the meat on the quail and abandoned the rest of the food. It was again, rather acidic. What is this desire to make things so acidic, when the foods themselves already are acidic? This is just really poorly thought out. There’s an execution and planning miss here for me, the latter no excuse for a busy Friday night. And my server was still nowhere to be found…

I just made my way out after paying. This was not a great way to end what was a good day. Oh well, tomorrow is another day. It’s Friday evening, so who knows what caused this minor shitshow. This is why I usually don’t like eating out on weekends, the service is always worse, the food is always sketchier. Sigh…

Foreign & Domestic
306 East 53rd Street
Austin, Texas


One thought on “Review: Foreign & Domestic

  1. Pingback: Review: La Barbecue | melhuang1972

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