With creative dishes, inventive cocktails and a wholly unique atmosphere, Anthem takes over as the
new gateway to Rainey.
When we got the invite to Anthem’s soft opening, I was a little intimidated by the menu online. The choices range from the Aloha burger, a Polynesian twist on the classic bacon cheeseburger inclusive of Spam, to Gulf Oysters on a half shell, to a Pineapple Bread Pudding complete with King’s Hawaiian rolls. The cocktail menu had me at hello, though, so we decided to check out Rainey’s newest fare.
For appetizers we tried the Brisket Rangoons and the Queso Loco. Both were incredibly rich eats crafted around the Five Spice BBQ Brisket. The queso was balanced with shoshito peppers and fresh guacamole and pico that made Queso Loco easily one of my top five favorites in Austin. The rangoons boasted a pastry shell with perfect texture and no grease, but lacked a kick like the peppers in the queso to balance out the fatty flavors of the brisket and cream cheese. One per person at the table is plenty.
Our main courses were the Hapa Chicken Sandwich and the Coastal Fish & Fries. Interestingly the chicken sandwich used chicken thigh instead of chicken breast, and was built around the fattier meat of that cut. A sesame slaw and spicy cherry pepper and cucumber sunomono relish topped the sandwich off on an onion bun. While the overall flavor was balanced because of the acidity in the toppings, I found myself wishing that the sandwich got to those flavors without so much complexity. The simplicity of the fish & fries probably had something to do with that yearning though. The tempura breading on the fish, the freshness of the meat and the savory flavors of the panko beer batter create my favorite fried fish in Austin. The tenders were meaty without being chewy, flavorful without being greasy, and the sauces offered were light and enhanced the flavor of the fish without overpowering.
The cocktails throughout our meal defined the meal for me. I started the night with their EXSW Margarita, a smooth blood orange mix on the rocks with a good balance of sweetness and citrus kick. Zach sampled an IPA from the impressive beer menu and found the offerings and organization to be incredibly intuitive for those who maybe don’t know as much about choosing from tap offerings. For his cocktail Zach tried the old fashioned on their menu, a simple creation that doesn’t try for anything too creative and is improved because of it. I finished the night off with Anthem’s signature Kegged Mai Tai – not for the faint of heart but delicious for those who like their liquor a little stronger without sacrificing flavor.
I also tried the Hong Kong Waffle for dessert. The waffle was fluffy and the green tea highlights helped combat some of the natural sweetness to make it the perfect staple for an ice cream and candy mix, but the presentation of the actual food made it nearly impossible to get all of the flavors at once. While the waffle cone-esque serving makes for a pretty picture, I would rather have had it on a plate for easier eating.
Overall, I would say this place is a great stop for Austin foodies and those who are maybe more in it for the cokctails. I definitely see us returning to start our night with Anthem’s fare before we go out dancing or exploring. Anthem takes risks in the right places to create an entirely unique experience in Austin eating – and that in itself is a feat that makes Eat Drink Anthem worth the visit.
Anthem boasts a huge menu of fresh cocktails for every taste. I personally recommend the Kegged Mai Tai – not only is the rum subtle and layered with just the right amount of sweet, the to-go container it’s served in is picture worthy.
We ordered two separate appetizers, two entrees, two cocktails each, and a dessert for just under $100 before tip. And the amount of food we had was enough to feed at least two more. You could easily snag a meal for less than $60 for two.
For the Austin foodie, this restaurant boasts a huge menu of food options you won’t find anywhere else. We stuck to some of the staples, but every choice includes twists like Asian Five Spices, cucumber sunomono relish and more.