ACL Food Fight 2014: Tim Love vs. The Gilmores

By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 10.04.14
 Chefs Jack and Bryce Gilmore, Austin Food & Wine Festival Chef Showcase — Grilled whole quail ($12): The company that produces ACL is also a partner in the Austin Food & Wine Festival, and so C3 Presents is cross-pollinating the events by bringing AFW stars for cameos on both weekends. On Friday Oct. 3 (and just that one day), it was the father and son team of Jack and Bryce Gilmore. The elder was a founding chef at Z’Tejas and runs two successful Jack Allen’s Kitchens in Oak Hill and Round Rock. The younger is the celebrated small-plates auteur behind Barley Swine and Odd Duck. Both know their way around grilled meats, but laying down quail is short work for the Barley Swine gang, which can pack half a dozen elements on a small plate and dare you to chase them around with a spatula. The quail was cooked just enough to soften up inside and stay firm in its bronzed skin outside, butchered so precisely that the neat halves could be pulled apart and laid bare without going full-on Neanderthal. The meat was dressed heavily in chopped peanuts, sesame seeds, minced herbs and a thick, sweet glaze that dripped like molasses in ... October. It’s the same kind of elaborate garb that disguises lesser meat in strip-mall Chinese joints. But with a bird this good, less would always be just enough.
 Chef Tim Love’s Lonesome Dove Western Bistro — Beef rib, chimichurri, herb salad ($12): In this, the season of the $12 festival snack, Fort Worth chef Tim Love (as seen on TV) offered a handshake preview of the Lonesome Dove he plans to open in Austin at Fifth and Colorado in the former Kenichi space. He’s shaking that hand with a big, beefy grip: a cross-section of cold-smoked short rib on sloppy borracho beans. It’s all bark and bite on the outside, as hard-ridden as saddle tack by a campfire, full of smoke and attitude, about like the guy who brung it. The meat pulled apart like an onion bloom, revealing long fibers of coral-colored lean and ambered ripples of fat. It’s rough Texas barbecue, reimagined for the more genteel indoor set, an impression reinforced by an herbal daub of chimichurri. But if two sprigs of parsley constitutes an “herb salad,” the Dove is foraging from the wrong garden.
 The winner: Tim Love’s Lonesome Dove. I realize these are different beasts altogether. But they both speak to the alchemy of flesh and fire, and both are well-executed — even if they’re arguably overpriced for a festival like this. But if you’re going to play that game, play big. And you don’t get much bigger than smoked beef on the bone. Love’s dish played more effectively to the strength of its star component.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
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