Restaurant Love

Visions of Hillside Farmacy in Austin, Texas — Eastside

For those of you who haven’t been to Hillside Farmacy on the Eastside of Austin, Texas here are a few images of what I saw and ate during my first visit.  

Sitting tranquilly on a corner lot of a busy 11th Street corner this restaurant buzzes with constant activity.  I was there right after a Friday lunch rush.  This is the time between 1:30 and 4p when things settle down a bit, shifts change and preparation for dinner is just beginning behind the scenes.  And that’s why I got to sit in a quiet little corner looking out and into a restaurant that was beginning to charm me.

The concept is pharmacy-esque with old-school warm woods and a new-school hip color scheme that is pleasing to the eye; at least mine. 

One of the new trends I’ve noticed in restaurants is the absence of salt and pepper on the table; unless it’s a signature blend or a cool color.  A primary and learned technique in culinary school is how to season with salt and pepper.  The ideology is that if this is done correctly there is no need for seasoning (salt & pepper) on the table.  That said, I like to have the choice and HF gives you that in the form of two cobalt blue bottles with definitive labels.

Stepping into the restaurant you’re met with a professional staff and fun people watching.

 I had a the Fried Egg Sandwich with Bacon. And it was REAL GOOD!

For a Friday afternoon jaunt to the Eastside of Austin it was well worth it.  This first timer left with a happy belly and big smile.

Thank you Hillside Farmacy. I’ll be back.

p.s. Love the “farmacy girl” on the lavatory door.

p.s. Love the “farmacy girl” on the lavatory door.

AFBA 2014 — Baguette et Chocolat

“I’ll have a French Coffee, please,” I said to the lovely lady behind the counter.  “Do you know what French Coffee is?” she softly intoned with a whisper of a French accent.  Quizzically, I shrugged my shoulders. She smiled and explained that a French coffee was a shot of espresso with whipped cream. With her hand she measured how much of each went into the coffee mug. When I saw that the volume of whipped cream was twice the amount of espresso, I was sold.  “Yes, I’ll have one, please!” I said.  

This was my first experience at what was then a quickly becoming known French cafe named, Baguette et Chocolat.

An authentic French bakery and cafe it stands alone in the small Uplands Shopping Center just off Bee Cave Road and is a stones throw from HWY 71. It’s right smack dab in the middle one of Austin’s newer suburban landscapes; the City of Bee Cave.  

Walking into the cafe you would never know. On any given day you can count at least 2 to 3 different languages; including French.   It lends itself to feeling as if you’re somewhere else.  Perhaps Paris?!?  And like any good Parisian cafe this one is bustling and very well patronized.  

Why? Maybe it’s little touches that the patrons love; an area for the wee ones with their very own flat screen TV; not having to wait long for a seat even in the busiest times; adding new items but not changing the core menu; a huge ladies lavatory full of natural light. It could be any one of these things. 

But my guess is it’s the bread, pastry, macaroon and the traditional French dishes like salty and sweet crepes, quiche, salads and baguette sandwiches.  

The menu is wonderful.  Fresh bread is made and baked daily. From a traditional baguette to a new 6-Seed sourdough batard there are many to choose from. My favorite to take home and toast is the sourdough batard; crusty on the outside, chewy and airy on the inside.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the olive batard. It has two different types of olive slices gently nestled inbetween layers of chewy baked dough. And has just the right amount of brininess.  

Pastry is center stage eyeing you seductively as you stand in line to place your order. The ubiquitous Americanized croissant doesn’t even compare to the one found here. Biting into one it’s as if the crunchy buttery layers melt into a whispered remembrance of your favorite place in the world, until you take another bite.

Fruit tarts, decadent chocolate cakes and eclairs make a strong showing for desserts. For a lighter option there are any number of different flavored macaroon. And , one of my favorites, the financier; a small French sponge-like cake. 

The prepared breakfast and lunch items are magnificently French.  Starting with the traditional buckwheat crepe you can choose either salty (savory) or sweet.  Salty crepes  are filled with ingredients like rich cheeses, ham and mushrooms. Sweet crepes are filled with jams and  (of course) Nutella.  And as you can see from my friend, Karen (who spent 5 years living in Paris), they incite an inevidable level of anticipation and happiness that can only be found here.  She literally comes from Central Austin just to have a crepe.

Sandwiches and salads are another option.  Sandwiches start out with a half baguette with layers of fresh ingredients such as salty ham, creamy brie, tuna cucumbers and crisp lettuce topped off with an aioli or herbed vinegar.  Salads come out in bowls piled high with mixed baby greens.  The house made vinaigrette has a soft sweet tang and dresses the lettuce lightly.  Salad Niciose is a house favorite.  

If you can’t stay for breakfast or lunch - no problem. Take-out is just as popular.  And if you’re lucky a handsome French lad will meet you, arms full of your own specified hand crafted treats.  

Ready for a trip to France via Paris? It’s simple! Just jump in your car and make your way to this little gem. Even if you’re not an espresso whipped cream coffee person there’s obviously something for everyone. I want to claim Baguette et Chocolat as MY own little food find in MY little neck of the woods but I really can’t.  
It’s been found! Here are my recommendations for your first or next visit: 
*French Coffee
*Paris - Austin Eclair
*Lemon Tart
*Anything Chocolate
*Sourdough Batard
*Traditional Baguette
*Olive Batard
Salty/Sweet Crepe:
*Ham & Cheese
Salty Sandwich:
*Parisian Brie
*My Grandpa’s Banh Mi
*Salad with Chevre Chaud

Baguette et Chocolate is on FaceBook
Baguette et Chocolate is on the Web
Baguette et Chocolate is on Twitter
12101 FM 2244 (Bee Caves Rd.) 78738
Tuesday - Thursday  7a to 5:30p
Saturday 7a to 4p
Sunday 8a to 2p
Closed Sunday