Restaurant review: Boiler Nine Bar + Grill

Boiler Nine Bar + Grill restaurant recently opened in the Seaholm Power Plant location on Cesar Chavez in downtown Austin.  RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Boiler Nine Bar + Grill restaurant recently opened in the Seaholm Power Plant location on Cesar Chavez in downtown Austin.

Check out this video preview of the new Boiler Nine Bar + Grill, and then get a taste of the review by reading the first few grafs below. For the complete review, head to

“This doesn’t look like Austin.”

“This doesn’t feel like Austin.”

Or, worse: “This looks like Dallas.”

You’ll hear some variation of that lament as you traverse parts of recently sprouted or newly polished Austin.

It’s too sparkling. It’s too slick. It’s too … new.

We like things a little more lived-in around here. Places with character. It doesn’t have to be old, but it helps if it can pass for having been around since before the 21st century. Sometimes just a reincarnation of an old spirit in a new body will do.

At least, that’s how a certain strain of Austinites feel. Many recent transplants, younger consumers and trend-chasers are drawn to the glossy, antiseptic familiarity of mixed-use developments found in every major city in America today. Servicing such disparate masters can be a real challenge.

Welcome to the world of being a restaurant operator today in Austin. The problem is highlighted by the wealth of first-generation restaurant spaces in town. How can you make a new space feel like it has earned history? And how can someone who’s been around awhile avoid the label of newcomer?

The sleek, industrial Boiler Nine Bar + Grill, named after its location in the former Seaholm Power Plant’s ninth boiler room, sits at the crux of Austin’s old-new conundrum. One of Austin’s newest restaurants (it opened this summer), it is located in one of the older buildings in Austin to house a restaurant. The restaurant is centered on the warming cuisine fueled by live-fire cooking, though the space looks like it just got removed from its plastic wrapping. And the team behind it isn’t new, but their context has changed.

Read the full review on

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Video: Review of Kyoten Sushiko

Austin’s hottest new sushi restaurant is Kyoten Sushiko and it has everything: a quirky, obsessive chef; exceptional food; a server who does his dry cleaning in a bathtub; and all of the charm of an unfurnished model apartment.

Apologies to Bill Hader’s Stefon character from “Saturday Night Live,” but I kept slipping back into that absurd and lovable character’s voice when trying to explain the surreal experience of dining at chef Otto Phan’s omakase-style sushi restaurant.

The slight chef with a shaved head opened his tiny restaurant at the Mueller development at the end of June. Calling it a restaurant almost feels like a stretch. Situated on the ground floor of one of Mueller’s new mixed-use buildings, Kyoten more closely resembles a one-bedroom apartment that someone decided to turn into a restaurant at the last second.

What would be the living area serves as lunch seating (see inset box for details), the kitchen is, well, the kitchen, and the should-be bedroom acts as the dining room for a 20-course omakase-style (chef’s choice) dinner service that takes place two times a night, five nights a week.

With the exception of a small picture of Phan’s original East Sixth Street sushi trailer that served as his launchpad, the white walls are bare. Silence smothers the musicless room. The only architectural detail: a gorgeous, eight-seat ash wood counter designed by Wimberley artist Michael Wilson. I snuck a glance at the floor to see if there was still a drop-cloth to indicate the space was not finished, or some plastic lining that might alert us that we had wandered into a scene from “Dexter.”

Continue reading my review at

Watch: Restaurant review of Chicon in East Austin

Ben Edgerton and chef Andrew Wiseheart closed their fine dining, veggie-centric Gardner earlier this year. But they didn’t walk away from the restaurant. They revamped the menu and design to create the more casual Chicon, a refined take on comfort food that feels akin to their original restaurant, Contigo. Chicon is located at 1914 E. Sixth St.

Striped bass at Chicon. (Credit: Ricardo B. Brazziell AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Striped bass at Chicon. (Credit: Ricardo B. Brazziell AMERICAN-STATESMAN)