Locally sourced, globally inspired: Snack Bar on South Congress makes us a treat with Vital Farms eggs
Above: Tamago Yoko: cabbage, leek and shrimp hash-cake, with Applewood smoked bacon,
two Vital Farms eggs on top, wasabi aioli, sriracha, bonito and nori.
Though Snack Bar’s been open for a few years, the chef and the menu have changed quite a few times. (Basically, the restaurant you visited a few years ago isn’t the same place today). On a visit there yesterday, Executive Chef Thomas Reeh explained the owners’ original vision and the current attitude about food at Snack Bar today.
Reeh gravitates toward straightforward dishes using the best ingredients; menu items need to make sense seasonally. He said the menu has changed five times in 14 months. “The owners want the food to be globally inspired. Pulling from different cuisines. The quinoa dish is South American-inspired. When it’s hot, you don’t want to feel like you weigh 1,000 pounds, and you don’t want to eat lots of braised foods,” he said.
Though the menu offers quite a few options for those looking for ethically-raised eggs (like Vital Farms) and meats, it also caters to vegan and gluten-free diets. (Reeh eats everything). “If I’m gonna make something that’s vegan or gluten-free, I’m gonna make it something I want to eat too,” he explained.
The restaurant uses quite a few eggs, and now serves brunch until 4pm everyday for the late-rising South Congress crowd. The menu offers brunch dishes like Rice-milk French toast, egg and gravy biscuits, seitan and tofu options as well as natural chicken reubans, Niman Ranch burgers with locally-made Dos Lunas cheese, and noodle bowls with kaffir lime vinaigrette. Flour-less chocolate cake is a gluten-free dessert, though maple vanilla pot de crème and cordial sundaes sound super delicious and special.
The switch to Vital Farms eggs was a natural one. “We used to use Soncrest eggs. They seemed ok. But when I met with Megan, we dissected their operation. I would rather go with an animal that was raised well,” Reeh said. “These yolks are a little more rich than other eggs. They’re just pretty and you never see any pale yellow yolks. We don’t use any other eggs. We use them in baking, scrambled, on top of burgers. If anyone orders an egg here, it’s Vital Farms.”
Above: Chef Thomas Reeh, Snack Bar, Austin, TX