|111 Lavaca St.
Austin, TX 78701
The first thing one notices about fine dining in downtown Austin these days is that the stakes are considerably higher in the battle for attracting the discerning diner. You have to create a seamless, consistent dining experience replete with gastronomic gusto and aplomb and the appropriate ambiance. And that’s precisely why we’re here at III Forks today. They are a comfortable, upscale steak and seafood house at First and Lavaca, and they most certainly “bring it” with every dining experience.
I first came across Chef Jamie Gutierrez when he was getting started at Cool River ten years ago. The talent that was obvious at that point has blossomed into full bloom at III Forks. The man knows his way around a ribeye or a lovely piece of fish, and his output is always consistently at a very high level.
The menu at III Forks is relatively diminutive, and that’s fine with me. Each dish gets that much more attention from the chef. So we have to start with the Beef Croustades. The tenderloins are pounded until caramelized, and then served on toast points with a mustard aioli. What a lovely way to begin. Likewise the Scallops Wrapped in Bacon are also a favorite. The meuniere sauce is quite good, and the scallops are plump and have beautiful texture: the bacon provides a nice flavor contrast. And you must try the Tomato and Onion Salad with Mozzarella cheese. Jamie’s version of the famous Caprese salad is totally captivating. The tomatoes are firm, the onions provide the right flavor accent, and the mozzarella serves as a beautiful base to a great salad. I also really like the Wedge Salad, which offers a different flavor profile. I like mine with a vinaigrette dressing, goat cheese and red onions. Or you can go the bleu cheese route. Both work.
The steaks are the signature dishes at III Forks and the most memorable. They are all USDA Prime and aged to perfection. To me, there’s nothing tastier than a well-aged and properly cooked steak. And III Forks has quite an offering. Let’s begin with the with the Bone-In Ribeye, perfectly marbled and bursting with primal flavor. For me, just north of medium-rare. Had I only one choice at III Forks, this would be it. And the 10oz. Filet Mignon is another exquisite cut. Taken from the tenderloin, the meat has a smooth and almost effortless texture. The Porterhouse is a cut from where the tenderloin and the top loin meet. It is 24 ounces in all its glory, and the perfect solution for a Texas carnivore with a big appetite. But please, no more than medium.
The fruits of the sea are also among III Forks strongest offerings. The Dover Sole completely blows me away. Sauteed in a burre blanc sauce, the flavors here are incomparable. And the critical texture is spot on. Hats off to Jamie and his staff on this one. And I love the Chilean Sea Bass. This dish is engaging in its simplicity: seared only with salt and pepper and a modified pesto, that serves to enhance the flavors. And the classic Fried Shrimp Platter produces flavors that mingle the batter and shrimp into a terrific first bite flavor rush. This is a dish that I would think twice about ordering elsewhere but Chef Jamie nails it.
There are rooms here at III Forks that are named for Texas heroes. Well, take your significant other to dinner here and you too will be a hero, albeit briefly. If I had a corny gimmick like some food critics, III Forks would get rated three forks, all pointed upward. This is a true, upscale dining experience for adults.