Chez Nous is an intimate French bistro waiting to impress, yet completely unexpected at its address just off Sixth Street in Austin. I enjoyed two late night dining experiences during the managed chaos of SXSW, with an interesting variance in the satisfying service.
The first visit was on a busy Friday night around ten. When I asked if they featured a good selection of French wines by the glass, the first staff member gave me a puzzled expression, confirmed the wines, and showed me to a table. Another server appeared concerned as I deliberated for several minutes over a glass of wine and salad. Five members of the staff visited my table to check on me throughout the evening, keeping me pleasantly content. About the time I declined anything further, I had a change in plans and decided I would have dessert. A server, having presented the check, appeared impatient and did not come back to the table that night. Nonetheless, I was well cared for as I enjoyed dessert and coffee, and I made plans to return another night for a full meal.
The second visit was on the following Tuesday night at eight, not quite as active in the restaurant. My primary server became the same person that did not return to the table on the previous evening. She recognized and greeted me enthusiastically. I concluded the previous events had been coincidence, as she and the team provided even more attentive and well-rounded service. Teamwork among staff members, which include the three French owners, was smooth and efficient, delivering a classy casual experience.
Wine choices were many. My first night glass was Lascaux, a dry white blend from Languedoc. For the big meal, a nice Les Galets De Sauveterre Cotes du Rhone 2011. On both nights I had Salade Lyonnaise with a poached egg, the second night with large crumbled lardons. The server recommended Cotes d'agneau Manon, New Zealand lamb chops with a white bean ragou and broccolinis, as well as Entrecôte bearnaise, a ribeye with frites, which were excellent. For dessert, I loved the Profiterolles, two ice cream filled pastry puffs with chocolate sauce. Their "coffee" is a firm, bold Cafe Americano, which I was also thrilled to receive as my coffee to go.
Chez Nous has charming French country and vintage decor, complete with fresh flowers on the tables. A fun and interchangeable team will see to your needs and happiness diligently. The broad and authentic French menu is what Chez Nous is all about, though. It is understandable that they have thrived in such an unlikely location for over three decades, and is a total package that is to be desired.
Chez Nous - 510 Neches Street, Austin, TX 78701