Austin- When it comes to 6th street in Austin, a lot of Texans associate it with live music, a bunch of bars, and some wild times. If you walk a little bit past the party part of town, you’ll find a beer garden and bakery on the banks of Waller Creek.
We’re at Easy Tiger in Austin.
“We call it the ‘Old ET,’” Sophie Neilon said.
David Norman is one of the co-owners and head baker of this interesting restaurant with an exotic name.
“It’s funny, that’s what I hear my wife say when I order the third beer at this place. ‘Easy, tiger,’” Jerrod Poffenberger said.
That’s exactly how Easy Tiger earned it stripes. That, and the incredibly delicious food.
“We do our own sausages, we cure our own meats, we make our own mustard and sauerkraut,” David Norman said. “We do almost everything on the menu is made by Easy Tiger.”
“This menu, it hits me,” Jerrod said. “It hits my soul.”
While beer flows in the beer garden and people enjoy their marvelous encased meats, don’t call this place a German restaurant. That would be like calling your pet tiger Spot!
“We get pigeonholed as a German restaurant sometimes, but I think we’re not a beer garden, we’re a beer garden,” David said. “We’re an American version of a beer garden. There’s some German stuff, definitely, but that’s central Texan. That’s the heritage here.”
The thing that makes David’s chest puff up with pride is the bread that rises in his bakery.
“You smell it too,” George Mitchell said. “That’s the first time it hits you as soon as you walk up top. You’re like, ‘Bakery whiff,’ so.”
While living in Germany, David become addicted to the different kinds of baked goods in the bright cities of Europe. So when he moved back to the states, he decided to make the same sort of sustenance. His warm, flaky, delicious bread has been a big hit, for the most part.
“We’re baking bread in a tortilla town, but that’s changing a lot, and there’s more good bread in Austin now, but we’re still working on getting bread on people’s tables every day,” David said.
The best way to accomplish this is to pair it with something that makes you want to eat more of it.
“The synergy between beer and bread, it’s all fermentation,” David said. “Grains that are fermented, just going different directions with it.”
Well we’re ready to toast to some good toast, so David got things started on a hot warm Bavarian pretzel.
“Well it’s a soft pretzel. It’s a pretty stiff, chewy dough. And then the secret to it is, you dip it in a alkaline solution, in lye, basically….,” David said.
“It’s changing the pH of the proteins on the surface of the loaf is what’s technically happening,” David said. “Bread baking is a lot of science.”
Once in the oven, all it takes is time. While waiting David got started on one of their most popular offerings that goes perfect with bread and beer: A charcuterie (char-cute-a-ree) board.
“We’re gonna do our Texas Hill Country board,” David said. “We got some red chili mustard and we have a green chili mustard. This is our French sourdough bread, our miche. Comes in a big round loaf. Some butter with our bread, lots, of course. This is whipped, salted butter. So we take a really good European style, high fat butter that I use in our croissants and stuff, and we whip it and add salt to it, for our salted butter. This is a fresh style, German-styled cheese called Quark. Now these are the goodies. This is a venison hot link with some cheddar cheese in it. This is a duck terrine. So there’s duck, there’s bacon, there’s ham, there’s some pork fat in there, there’s cranberries, apricots, apple cider, and even a little bourbon … from the whisky bar downstairs. And then, we have a wild boar rillette. A rillette, is a mixture of pork, pulled pork, and pork fat. And this one has some fresh sage, poblanos, and jalapenos in it.”
So, I am not going to take it easy tiger. I am going to dive right into this. Let’s start with some of that sausage. The house made venison cheddar hot link. We’re game. Literally, game.
“We like trying different crafts when it comes to sausages, and what they’re doing at Easy Tiger, it’s right,” Jerrod said. “It’s real good.”
After that, it was time to butter our bread.
“The butter is really soft and whipped so you can dip it. I like to dip it instead of spread it,” Sophie said.
Once the flavor set in, it was like hearing the roar of a tiger.
“You’re pretty safe ordering almost anything, because there’s such a variety on all the offerings that you never know what you’re gonna end up with, and usually, it’s gonna hit you right,” Jerrod said.
When it comes to expanding your palate, don’t take it easy, tiger, go for the tiger. Go for the gold, because it’s well worth a stop on the Texas Bucket List, right here, at Easy Tiger.
“It’s a comfortable place for people to come, relax, slow down, eat great food, drink some good beer,” David said.