ATXReview

Let’s start by addressing the elephant-sized hearth in the room. It’s 20 feet long, fed by a live fire, and touches almost everything on the menu at some point. If you’re picturing some kind of Burning Man bonfire, think again—here, the fire serves a purpose and the people wear clothes. Hestia takes a very modern approach to age-old live fire cooking methods, where bold flavors centered around smoke, ash, and char dominate the menu to create a very unique fine dining experience. 

Despite its size and prominence, the hearth is fairly easy to miss, though it does anchor the open kitchen to a pretty swanky dining room. If you’ve watched the Chef’s Table episode with Francis Mallmann, your mind might go to a contraption suspending chickens and large animals over a bonfire, which isn’t really the case—think of it more like a really long grill/oven hybrid. You won’t necessarily see most of the live fire action, though you’ll certainly taste its effects in various forms, from ash aged chevre to hearth roasted beets. There are rustic elements at Hestia—like a wall partially made up of split logs—but make no mistake, this is one of the few restaurants in Austin where a collared shirt won’t feel out of place.

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Hestia review image

While most of the restaurant is centered around a live fire, there’s a distinctly modern feel to the entire menu. It’s almost as if they read every book on molecular gastronomy, then threw out all the bits about making your food look like something grown on a petri dish. A grilled scallop is served on the half shell and swims in gelatinized ribbons of beef tallow to create one of the most unique interpretations of surf-n-turf we’ve ever seen.  It’s beefy, buttery, and smoky without ever forgetting it came from the sea. And there’s a wagyu beef tartare served with beef fat bearnaise that’s so airy, it feels like it came out of a savory whipped cream dispenser. 

Much like every restaurant that’s opened since 2010, all of the plates here are meant to be shared. But the steaks come pre-sliced so you and your dining companion won’t have to fight over who got the bigger half of a dry aged 8oz Texas wagyu NY strip. But unlike at your typical steakhouse, you’ll only find one or two options here, and they’ll be paired with a side that makes it feel more like a composed plate than a steak, potato, and broccoli situation. We’ve visited a handful of times, with our steaks ranging from shout-from-a-mountaintop good, to others that we wish had spent just a little more time on the hearth. It doesn’t feel great to take a gamble like this on a $65+ cut of beef, but it’s worth the risk when the stakes are this high (sorry for that one).

A glance at the receipt here is probably not for the faint of heart—you can expect to spend $150 per person, and more if you splurge on the great wine list—but it’s a meal you won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Don’t be too surprised if you find yourself googling how to build a hearth in your backyard shortly after.

Food Rundown

Pan De Cristal

The pan de cristal pairs a cracker-sharp crust with an inside so airy and cavernous that you can almost hear an echo as you break it open. You’ll struggle to choose a favorite between the two spreads that accompany it—a sweet and silky smoked cream with habanada honey and an earthy, bitter pecan one—fortunately, you never have to.

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Hestia review image

Texas Wagyu Beef Tartare

We’ve never thought to pair beef tartare with a waffle, but once you realize how perfect those little warm caverns are for packing beef into, you’ll never want to go back. It’s also served with a whipped beef fat bearnaise that you can spoon on top for an even more savory punch.

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Hestia review image

Scallop

Scallops here are served on the half shell—grilled, sliced, and put back together to look just like a scallop, but easier to eat. They’re also surrounded in little jelly ribbons of beef tallow and served with a bit of soy sauce and some diced apples. This is easily one of our favorite dishes here.

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Hestia review image

Wagyu Bavette

In many ways, Hestia feels a bit like a really fancy steakhouse, though calling it a steakhouse wouldn’t be very accurate. We’ve had a few times when the steaks have been undercooked or overseasoned here, but when they nail it (and they usually do) they’re among the best we’ve ever had.

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Hestia review image

Kakigori

This is a mountain of a dessert that pairs alternating layers of rosemary and apple shaved ice with spiced honey ice cream, topped with salted cream, matcha, and white chocolate. If you’re just getting one dessert, it should probably be this one.

Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Hestia review image

Sourdough Buttermilk Ice Cream

Sourdough ice cream topped with fermented tomato powder is the perfect intersection of creamy, funky, and bitter notes. It’s a godsend to those who prefer to finish their meals on a more savory end and a great complement to some sweeter finishers.

Featured in

.
The Best Date Night Restaurants In Austin guide image
Guide
The Best Date Night Restaurants In Austin

Our list of the best spots for a romantic night out.

Suggested Reading

.
Emmer & Rye review image
Review
Emmer & Rye

Emmer & Rye’s seasonal small plates and beautiful space make it one of the better places for a special occasion dinner.

Kalimotxo review image
Review
Kalimotxo

Kalimotxo is the downtown Spanish-inspired bar serving pintxos from the people behind Emmer & Rye.

The Best Places To Drink Wine In Austin guide image
Guide
The Best Places To Drink Wine In Austin

Our favorite spots to drink wine in Austin.

The Best Date Night Restaurants In Austin guide image
Guide
The Best Date Night Restaurants In Austin

Our list of the best spots for a romantic night out.