|11600 Century Oaks Terrace
Austin, TX 78758
This review of Fleming’s at the Domain is as much about the grace and charm of operating partner Daryl Wittle as it is about the other elements so critical to an upscale steakhouse in a pricey suburban mall. There is little to separate the very top Austin steak joints when they’re on their game food wise. So it often comes down to service and style. And Fleming’s has that in abundance. Once home to legendary server Paul Duce, there’s a lineage of excellent waiters like Steve who really get the fine art of allowing service to enhance a meal. And Wittle sets the tone for an evening full of substance but also of the aforementioned style.
As noted there is often not a lot to separate the very top steak joints in Austin on the streak side alone but Fleming’s does have its own unique twist on a number of very interesting appetizers and small plates (something fairly new to the menu). The Wicked Cajun BBQ Shrimp is a great place to begin. The sauce in this classic is indeed redolent of garlic, butter and spices and the shrimp simply come alive on your palate after the first bite. Great and lasting flavors on this one. The Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with roasted red pepper and lime butter sauce are also an excellent place to begin. Not a lot of fillers here: just the real deal with an abundance of sweet crab meat and down home flavors. Another fun dish is the Tenderloin Carpaccio. This is of course the beef version of sashimi and the Creole mustard sauce and red onion coaxes the most out of each razor thin slice of beef. I’m not usually a fan of tartare or carpaccio but I love the one at Fleming’s. And every now and then I like something simple and comforting; nothing works for me like a classic shrimp cocktail. Nice twist on the chipotle horseradish cocktail sauce and the firm, plump shrimp usually disappear quite rapidly.
The small plates section at Fleming’s is new and kind of changes the steak house vibe from the perception of “heavy” to an option for a bit lighter if you prefer. The Sliced Filet Mignon on Shitake risotto is just that. One bite of the filet with drizzled porcini butter and you will be most pleasantly surprised. Likewise the Jumbo Shrimp Scampi Skewers which can be dipped into an engaging chimichurri sauce are spot on. They were the gone so quickly that I had to reorder just to get a taste. The New Bedford Scallops seared with just a hint of a lemon-honey glaze are nicely light and sit atop a melange of baby carrots, green beans and asparagus. This is the small plate concept at its best. And one of my long-time favs that fits the small plates concept nicely is the Lobster Tempura with a soy ginger dipping sauce. Of course I get some drawn butter on the side as well, but fresh lobster lends itself very nicely to a well-prepared tempura batter and Chef Boyer Derise knows how to extract the most flavor from this clever dish.
The steaks at Fleming’s are USDA prime and rank with the best in the city. The steaks are broiled at 1600 degrees to your preference and I’m drawn to two classics: first the Peppercorn Steak: a New York Strip done in the classic French style with black and white peppercorns with the famous F17 steak sauce on the side. My other choice tends to be the Prime Bone-In Ribeye done medium rare plus. This is a steak for the ages: with lovely marbling and classic tastes. The first bite of this baby yields explosive, crackling bursts of flavor. And they know how to do it at Fleming’s. Another favorite seafood dish is the Alaskan King Crab which brings me to a critical point: we ordered these the other night and they were a bit off: not by much but just enough to matter. Classy operators like Daryl know what to do at this juncture. Take the crab back and make the customer happy which is exactly what happened. I can readily tell you that I’ve witnessed scenarios in other restaurants where the management was much less reluctant to acknowledge the flavor issue, let alone take the dish away. But that’s what makes Fleming’s work. It’s called customer care!
They have a lava cake that must be ordered prior to the end of your meal. It is dense and delicious. Not my personal cup of tea but my dining partner loved it. I opted for the extraordinary Carrot Cake and it was indeed that. A great meal overall and a reason why Fleming’s remains on my top list of dining experiences in North Austin.