Guys on ladders and bar backs unloading boxes of wine stems made for an entertaining backdrop to a delightful media tasting and preview of Perry’s Steakhouse’s newly remodeled Bar 79 on W. Seventh in the historic Norwood Tower.
What was once a fairly dark, closed-in area to the left of the entrance is now enclosed with bright glass walls that offer a terrific view into and from the main dining room. The bar itself is now an enormous horseshoe of light granite with twice the number of seats surrounded by high cocktail tables and a grand piano. Glass racks sparkle overhead, completing the classy effect.
Perry’s charming sommelier chatted with media as she shook and poured delicious, crafted cocktails that made lovely (if unsuspected) pairings with choices from the bar menu. TheElderflower 75, Perry’s take on the French 75, was made with top-shelf Tanqueray gin, fresh lemon juice, Elderflower liquor, and was finished with Chandon Brut. It made for a surprising foil to the luxurious deep-fried asparagus with copious amounts of butter and jumbo lump crab, a signature starter at Perry’s. The Pineapple-Ginger Mojito was just perfectly shy of garish and a spot on choice with the Ahi Tuna Duo. A new pizza (yes, pizza) was very good with thinly-sliced Strip steak baked on top and was nicely paired with the private label 2010 Cabernet Savignon, grown just for Perry’s in Sonoma County. Spicy pulled pork sliders on brioche buns didn’t disappoint. All the dishes we tried and the drinks we tasted fit together like a hand in a sophisticated leather glove.
It was fun, in fact, that the finishing touches were being done as we ate; it was a true peek behind the scenes in a place that prides itself on perfection of execution and a never-let-’em-see-you-sweat service model. And, in all honesty, I was reminded how truly exceptional the food here is. Sure, there are a lot of steak houses in Austin, more than our fair share. Perry’s, in my mind, is one of the very best, and clearly not one that is willing to settle into a dated, throwback version of itself.
The sparkling new Bar 79 — named for the year Perry’s was founded— opens Thursday, Feb. 13 at 4pm.
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