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Ember Kitchen In Seaholm District

4.7 295 votes

800 W Cesar Chavez


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Ember Kitchen In Seaholm District # 5 Austin Restaurant
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Wesley Griffin Last updated on Sep 05, 2023 by

The Austin restaurant scene, like the city itself, has certainly seen its share of change – exacerbated and fueled by the pandemic, with many of our hometown favorites shuttering. But like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, we are often gifted brave new culinary delights and treasures that breathe life and electricity once again into the culture that we all love and call home. The marquee restaurant and bar that anchored the Seaholm dining scene, Boiler Nine, closed in 2019 and left us all wondering what might emerge from its ashes…

Enter Ember Kitchen & Subterra Agave Bar, which opened in the marquee space bringing the energy and fire that would power this delicious Latin-fueled dining destination.  The Josper Oven is a Spanish invention that leverages intense heat from wood and charcoal, giving the team all the tools they need to crank out flavors and textures across meat, seafood and vegetables.

The Josper

When we walked into Ember at 7  p.m. on a Saturday night, the Josper was already pumping the sweet smell of charcoal smoke and grilled dishes throughout the wide-open space. In terms of orientation or map, the physical space hasn’t changed much from the Boiler Nine days: three main areas including the double-level main dining areas, the lower level Subterra Agave Bar, and a soon-to-be-opened rooftop bar. During the day the interior is flooded with natural light from the two-story floor-to-ceiling windows, and in the evenings after sunset the spaces are aglow with dim lighting and candles. A fresh update to the interiors includes a green wall and decorative appointments with rose and aqua pastels, hinting at a Miami-meets-Texas vibe.  We ordered our cocktails, the Tonic in Bloom, a mocktail of hibiscus, chamomile and tonic water, and the Clean Slate, a surprisingly green mezcal drink with aloe liqueur and avocado.  We thought the tonic water in the mocktail was a little overpowering, but we swapped it with the Resort Fresca, a ginger beer and jalapeno cucumber muddle, which was delicious and festive and perfectly teed up the menu.

Natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows

It was tough to make our selections from the menu but for starters we selected the Caviar Bites and Shrimp Scampi. The caviar bites are constructed in layers of flaky masa sopes topped with crema and whopping dollops of caviar and a hint of lemon with just that extra softness of the masa with the cream and caviar as a perfect nod to the Latin influence while leaving the otherwise traditional caviar equation intact. The shrimp scampi went a little deeper in transformation served in a wide bowl with a generous pour of Morita butter sauce, which almost eats like a soup if it weren’t for the handmade masa tortillas we used to sop it all up.  

Filet, caviar bites, and scallops

For the mains and sides there really was no other option but to go full-throttle with the Josper oven. We ordered the Prime Filet Mignon, perfectly flame-grilled and served with a bone marrow birria-a-jus sauce in its own carafe to pour atop the steak and celery puree with some sliced Josper-roasted heirloom turnips. The rich sauce becomes the catalyst to transform an otherwise classic steakhouse dish into a new experience. We also ordered the scallops, which came perfectly fire-roasted, leaving a nearly crispy texture on the top but still silky sweet and delicate throughout. The twist on this classic pairing comes from the roasted corn and Fresno chilis to complete the transformation. Our server also recommended the Josper-roasted heirloom carrots, which were surprisingly not too sweet considering they are sizzled in a strawberry glaze and matcha salsa. The roasted broccolini were also a fine pairing to round out our Josper experience, which we received compliments from the kitchen.  

To round out our night we sampled two desserts: the Chocolate Flan Cake with a crushed pecan caramel sauce and a scoop of caramel rosemary sorbet. I recommend ordering these together in fact, the nutty thickness of the flan cake being cut by the refreshing herbaceous rosemary in just the right way.  

Sorbet and Flan Cake

The staff throughout the night were attentive and gracious and, being there to take photos, we asked to be moved to a table with better lighting after the starters and they were happy to accommodate us without a hitch even with a full house. The check came to just above $200, which felt low considering the quality of the food and experience. I would recommend Ember for a celebratory date night, or if you can reserve one of the larger tables for groups, you could go wild and eat the whole card family style. It’s worth noting that the restaurant also validates parking in the Seaholm garage for 2 hours, which is nice considering the hunt for parking downtown can be tricky.

Interior photos and some dishes taken by Jane Yun Photography.

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