The hot new dish at Austin’s qui makes tribute to Michel Bras
Author Jolyon Helterman
At qui in Austin, Texas, the new restaurant from Paul Qui—the winner of “Top Chef” Season 9 and James Beard’s Best Southwest Chef 2012 award—the menu is bursting with originality (see: cheddar cheese ice cream sandwich). But the dish that best showcases Qui’s knack for culinary poetry pays explicit tribute to another fine toque. The “Ode to Michel Bras”—an homage to the famous French chef—might theoretically be called a salad, but that would be a bit like calling a Lamborghini a ride to work. The dish features bits of vegetables, flowers and herbs that highlight the local bounty, with each element strategically prepared to fit a dynamic ensemble of flavors, colors and textures on a painstakingly composed plate—a concept dubbed gargouillou by Bras. The version at qui morphs constantly but might be as simple as a grill-charred onion cup cradled in rich dashi-green-garlic puree, decorated with strawberry vinegar, lemon cucumber and a scattering of borage petals perched puddleside. You can bet the kitchen used tweezers.