Pasta|Bar came blazing into Austin and this chef’s tasting experience is one of the most popular and unattainable. I visited in June 2022 and am excited to tell you all about it. Is a visit worth it? Keep reading to find out. 😉
Chef’s Tasting at Pasta|Bar
Chefs Philip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee first landed in Austin, restaurant-wise, in December 2020. They brought their popular restaurant, Sushi by Scratch Restaurants, which opened in Los Angeles in 2016, to Austin as a pop-up. This intimate sushi omakase was a hit and by August 2021, they made it a permanent fixture. With the success of Sushi by Scratch Restaurants, the chefs opened Pasta|Bar in Austin in March 2022. Their original Pasta|Bar location debuted in Los Angeles in 2020 and earned a Michelin star in 2021. So by association, Pasta|Bar Austin is a Michelin-star experience.
[A long side note if you’re interested in Sushi by Scratch Restaurants: The restaurant was formerly called Sushi|Bar. In March 2022, the chefs sold the Sushi|Bar Austin restaurant to Chef Ambrely Ouimette, who had been part of the team. Their sushi concept, keeping a similar format to their former Sushi|Bar, is now called Sushi by Scratch Restaurants. In addition to the Austin location (in Cedar Creek, Texas at Hyatt Lost Pines), they have two locations in California (Los Angeles and Montecito, which has a Michelin star) and recently opened a location in Miami. I visited the original Sushi|Bar Austin in 2021 and have not been to either since the split, so I’m not sure how they differ from each other or what has changed, if anything, at Sushi|Bar. The only difference I see between the two is Sushi|Bar’s 17-course omakase is $145++ and Sushi by Scratch Restaurants’ 17-course omakase is $165++. One day I’ll have to find out!]
Pasta|Bar is located on East 6th near I-35, with a signless entrance. You’ll know it’s the right place when you see 1017 above the door.
Since it is a tightly timed tasting, you’ll be asked to arrive 20 minutes prior to your dinner for a complimentary welcome cocktail. The lobby lounge is a classy space to enjoy your cocktail before being ushered in, when all guests have arrived, to the dark back dining room.
You’ll find your seat by place card at the 10-seat counter. The space is intimate like a speakeasy and with the proximity of the kitchen, you have a front-row seat to all the action. The set-up reminds me of Otoko and is very similar to their sister restaurant, Sushi by Scratch.
Pasta|Bar Tasting Menu
This was the most decadent dinner! You can tell just by looking at the menu: scallop, lobster, escargot, foie gras, A5 wagyu, and caviar. Many dishes had some pasta in them, whether it was a few cavatelli or a ravioli. Here’s the menu I had and a few notes.
Amuse Bouche – The tart ravioli on the right side was one of my favorite things of the night. It was full of mushroom flavor and very delightful.
Margarita’s Sourdough with cultured butter – Not knowing what to expect, I didn’t want to fill up on bread but this bread and butter are some of the best I’ve ever had. It’s made from a sourdough starter that is 57 years old! WOW. We also got to take the rest of it home, so I fully enjoyed it for the next two days.
Nightshades with stracciatella, charred eggplant, beef fat
Scallop with lime granita, avocado, cucumber
Lobster with roasted kombu, sea urchin, dolce – One of my favorite dishes of the night, this dish is a hug in your mouth. It’s comfort food yet incredibly rich and savory.
Escargot with smoke, bordelaise, bone marrow – The final touch of this dish is melting bone marrow into the dish.
Jolthead Porgy with black bean, artichoke, tom yum – I love Thai cuisine, so this dish stood out for me.
Foie Gras with morel, ramp, charcoal – Mushroom fans like me will love this dish.
Chicken with charred onion, peaches, porcini – I’m usually wary of chicken dishes, but this one was very tender and delicious.
A5 Wagyu with braised greens, truffle, aged cheddar, sauce perigourdine – This beef melted in my mouth!
Meyer Lemon Granita with malted milk custard, black lime
Kalamansi Semifreddo with caviar, smoked emulsion, candied brioche – Caviar on dessert? It should be no surprise, right?
What a meal! I’m glad I got to experience it! Every dish was another exciting surprise and there were no missteps in the flavors. I’m dessert-focused, so I was expecting more from the dessert section, but the two presented were a necessary, light ending to this decadent meal. I loved that they were light and airy yet still had interesting compositions.
How to Make Pasta|Bar Reservations
Reservations open a month ahead on the first of the month at noon. For example, I made my June reservation on May 1st. From my experience, reservations didn’t disappear in seconds but you need to make them close to the noon opening. The reservation requires a $25 deposit per person. If you don’t secure a reservation, you can join the waitlist, which will email you if there are last-minute openings.
How Much Does Dinner at Pasta|Bar Cost?
The 11-course chef’s tasting costs $195 plus tax and a 20% service charge, making it the most expensive chef’s tasting in Austin. I also had a glass of wine for $35, so the real cost for me to dine here was $298.77.
The wine pairings (different levels available) start at $145 per person and include 9 pours, equalling about 3-4 full glasses. You can also order a la carte glasses of wine as I did.
In terms of the amount of food, I thought it was a filling amount, so worth the value in that way.
If you’ve read any of my other restaurant posts (ahem, The French Laundry), you’ll know I prioritize a unique experience with the cost in mind but the price is not necessarily a deterrent. You’ll also know my answer to whether a dining experience is worth it; it depends because it’s very subjective.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, they do have alternative menus. You’ll see from the menu above that there is a lot of meat, so I’m not sure you would have the full experience or be served comparable substitutes.
I thought the dinner seemed a bit expensive but I know inflation may affect the price. I’m glad I was able to enjoy this dinner and if I went back in time, I’d enjoy it again. Because of budget, it won’t be a frequent indulgence for me, but I do recommend having the experience if you are interested in it and think you’ll enjoy it. It’s a stellar chef’s tasting and a unique one in Austin.
Details for Your Visit
Here’s a quick list of what you need to know.
- Cuisine: American
- Ambiance: Intimate – 10 seats
- Attire: Casual
- Noise Level: Quiet/average
- Pricing: $$$
- Reservation: Necessary
- Parking: Street parking or nearby parking garages (not validated)
1017 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702