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How do you know if a restaurant is great even if you can’t eat there? Last weekend in Austin we went to Barley Swine, where Chef Bryce Gilmore has created an astonishing food palace. We met him a few weeks ago in New York City when Food and Wine had him shooting a video at Cooking by the Book for their award to him as one of the nation’s top new chefs.

So, last Saturday, we were off to Barley Swine. Which does not take reservations. As we pulled into the parking lot, we knew there was a wonderful problem. There was a line. And at the end of the line the staff told us it was a two hour wait. We had to pass. So we could not taste:

• Grilled carrot salad, goat feta, and almond brown butter
• Pickled gulf shrimp with grilled asparagus and farm egg dressing
• Grilled rabbit terrine, bacon-liver mousse and sweet onions
• Spice rubbed quail, beets and yogurt

Suzen is returning to Austin next month. She is returning to Barley Swine.

Why do I call Barley Swine great? Because when they could not serve us, and we asked what to do, with graciousness they told of several places to go. They knew the specialties, the prices, the best lights of each space they told us about.

We took their top suggestion and went up the street 100 feet to Olivia, which specializes in dishes based on local farmers, ranchers, foragers and artisans. There we were able to sample:

• Wagyu tri tip and frites with house ketchup
• Spiced quail with chickpeas, lamb chorizo, chard, chermoula, and fried parsley
• Beef stroganoff served to tagliatelli with arugula, egg yolk, horseradish sour cream and a caraway tuile

We did not suffer that night. I can recommend both restaurants if you are in Austin and find yourself across the lake on South Lamar.

Oh, I think Olivia is bordering on great, too. That beef stroganoff was wonderfully bright. The tuile was a gem: soft, filled with flavor, and simply an unexpected adornment.

Save room for dessert. The crème brulee is made with local duck eggs. It is the biggest portion of crème brulee I have ever seen. And the richest. The creamy orange contribution of the duck eggs was impressive. I’m now in the hunt for duck eggs!