I’ve always been a fan of the Manor area. It’s home to some of my favorite eateries in Austin: Mi Madre’s, Hoover’s, Vivo (because their hibiscus margarita is my favorite marg in all of Austin!), Salty Sow, etc. Lately it’s been blowin’ up even more with the very recent openings of Schoolhouse Pub and, yep, Haymaker. I’d read a lot about Haymaker’s outrageously indulgent sandwiches and fantastic craft beer and cocktail menu, so I put it on the top of my “must try in Fall 2013” list. (What, you mean you don’t make seasonal must-try restaurant lists? Come on now.)
A group of us went to try out Haymaker for dinner last Friday, and it was a fun but slightly mixed experience, as they’re so freshly opened that I think they’re still figuring out the flow of things. I really liked the atmosphere – Haymaker is from the same team that brought us Black Sheep Lodge on South Lamar and it definitely has that relaxed, come-as-you-are neighborhood sports bar feel. Well, “relaxed,” but it was also crazily bustling. It’s open seating and there’s not really a front of house staff to speak of, so it’s a very competitive situation. My friends and I lucked into a high table near the shuffleboard area (to everyone who had been loitering around and didn’t notice the table open up: sorry, suckers!).
Warning: all the photos in this post are really dark because, well, the inside of Haymaker was pretty dark and cozy and I hate drawing attention to my paparazzi ways by using my flash in a chill place like this.
Our young server was sweet yet obviously overwhelmed. It took a surprisingly long time to get drinks going and the wait for the apps and entrées was a little awkward too, but on the upside our cocktails were really strong and tasty. I really liked their creative cocktail list and the dudes seemed to be really into the craft beer selection as well.
The food was sliiightly underwhelming, but maybe I came in with some grandiose expectations. I got a salad – and yeah, I know, some of my friends were like “why would you come to a sandwich place and expect to get a salad?!” – to which I say, whatever, I like salads and if you put a salad on your menu and charge $9 for it, at least make it a hearty one, please. This is the baby spinach salad with sliced apples, blue cheese, pecans and a honey-mustard vinaigrette.
It was tasty and seemed fresh, but just… kinda small for how illustrious the menu seemed! I was really glad I paid extra to add turkey and a house-pickled egg, otherwise I would have been ravenous by the end of the meal. (By the way, the egg was really good. Probably my favorite part of the salad. I also really liked the honey mustard dressing and I think/hope it was housemade.)
I think Jim was the winner-winner from this dinner; he ordered the eponymous Haymaker sando: rare roast beef topped with french fries, gruyere sauce, slaw, tomatoes, and a fried egg. I didn’t get a bite of this bad boy or even an in-person glimpse. It disappeared to the other end of the table and his plate was clean in the blink of an eye. I did pass my phone over to him to snap a pic before it was devoured, and here ya go:
Dannnng. Not the clearest photo, but I think we all get the picture. (…literally.)
Rob got the Cuban burger, a marriage of a cheeseburger and a Cuban press sandwich: 1/3 lb patty, applewood-smoked ham, gruyere cheese, pickles and homemade horseradish mustard pressed panini-style on a roll. I love me a Cuban sandwich so I was excited to try a bite.
It was good for sure, but not quite as epic as I had dreamed from the description. Dare I say I wish it had even more ham and cheese to really nail in the “Cuban” aspect?
In the end, it’s not like Haymaker was a huge disappointment! Not at all. I think they just need to work out the kinks with service and really hit their stride with the menu. After all, when we visited it was like the fourth day they’d been open! Haymaker is definitely a welcome addition to my beloved Manor neighborhood. Austin could always use more good, non-chainy sports bars, in my opinion. My friends and I all agreed that we’d love to hit up Haymaker for a lazy Sunday Funday of football, big hangover sandwiches, and craft beers. I can’t wait to see how they evolve as they get their bearings.