Sep 5, 2023 - Things to Do

The Peacock: Austin's Middle Eastern gem

Photo: Courtesy of The Ingalls/The Peacock

In a previous life, I spent years roaming the Middle East and fell in love with the region's cuisine.

  • So I had been meaning to try Peacock, among a growing constellation of upscale Mediterranean restaurants in Austin (see Aba and Ezov).

The big picture: Peacock, which opened shortly before the pandemic hit, is on the ground floor of Austin Proper, a Marriott boutique property downtown.

  • With its hand-knotted rugs, encaustic tile wall installation, blond wood tables and soaring windows, the vibe is Middle East-meets-California.

Yes, but: The food is firmly rooted in the rocky, olive-studded hills of the Levant and North Africa.

To eat: The menu features tajines and kabobs, but my wife and I ordered from the mezze list — small plates meant to be shared.

  • The standout was the wood-fire grilled octopus. It was charred to perfection: not too dry and not too chewy.
  • The manti dumplings were a perfect bite — a moist envelope of ground meat with hints of coriander and cumin, with garlic yogurt sauce.
  • The crispy shallot hummus was accented with zhoug and chermoula, two Arab world sauces that are having an international culinary moment. We scooped it all up with warm, pillowy flatbread that evoked the bakeries of Damascus.
Photo: Courtesy of Justin Cook/The Peacock

Of note: The Attems Pinot Grigio Friuli and Miraval Côtes de Provence rosé paired well with the tang and spice on our plates.

Leave room: Dessert might have been the highlight of the dinner.

  • The crème brûlée was perfectly creamy under a thin crispy exterior with a hint of orange blossom water.
  • The dark chocolate torte was inflected with tahini and came with a sesame brittle that recalled Lebanese sesame candy.

Location: 600 W. Second St.

If you go: Reservations are available on Open Table.

  • The hotel offers valet parking. Otherwise, you can park in nearby garages. There is little street parking to be found.
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