8120 Research Blvd # 104B
Austin, TX 78758
Last week my girlfriend Christine and I decided we were going to hang out on Tuesday. But what were two fabulously single women in Austin going to do on a weeknight out? Would we hobnob with hot 20-something singles at the "it" bars in the Warehouse district? No. Would we drink expensive Pinot Noirs at a chic wine bar in Hyde Park? No. Would we sip cucumber water while getting facials at a 2nd street spa? No. We decided to sit in a smelly, over-crowded, over-priced comedy club. Fun.
One of Christine's favorite female comediennes, Maria Bamford, was playing for 2 nights at Capital City Comedy Club. Since we were going to Cap City, I thought it would be nice to eat at that new-ish "Tranylvanian" restaurant in the same shopping complex, Drakula. Having grown up in Chicago, I have a special place in my heart for Eastern block food. Growing up, I was exposed to all sorts of formerly-communist food, pierogies, borscht, sausage of every kind imaginable, schnitzels, 34 varieties of cabbage.. you get the picture. Nothing says love like something pickled or fermented stuffed in cabbage.
Actually, the main benefit of eating at Drakula is getting a coveted spot in the Cap City parking lot. So one of my major character flaws is that I'm perpetually late. No matter what I do, no matter when I leave, I always end up 15 minutes late. I've tried over the years to correct this flaw in my character, but to no avail, I end up being a ball of stress who is still late. A consequence of my chronic lateness if that I never ever get a frickin parking space at Cap City. I alway have to park in their overflow lot down the street that seems like its 40 miles away. But, when you eat at Drakula, you naturally show up early to have time to eat, and score one of those coveted parking spaces before the lot inevitably fills up.
But before we talk about the food, we have discuss the Dracula theme. I appreciate the Dracula schtick they're trying to work, Romanian restaurants just aren't something the average Central Texan seeks out. But this city is sorely lacking in non-asian ethnic food. Even Fort Worth had an awesome German restaurant (I've yet to find one here in Austin, so if you have a recommendation, I'd appreciate it). But when I think of a restaurant called Drakula, I think of a dark gothic space where the drinks are served in silver dragon goblets, the tablecloths are red, and everyone sits on a throne. But thats not what we encountered at Drakula. There are parts of Drakula that are crazy but there are parts that are so bland, they're almost forgettable. Like the decor. Now, I understand the place is in a strip mall, but the decor is way more bland than the name would imply. White walls, white tile floors, white table clothes, etc. The walls are adorned with a couple of Romanian ethnic knick-knacks, and pictures of pretty Romanian places that were obviously printed on a laser printer and framed. The only traces of Drakula were paintings of the King of the Damned on said decorative knick-knacks. But whatever, if the foods good, I don't care.
Now onto the menu, it's a little more interesting. It's not very large, and it's not very Romanian, but it does have a good selection of Eastern European dishes that a non-native would be familiar with. Everything from goulash, to schnitzel, to tripe soup, to polenta. There are even handy pictures of all the dishes for those who might not be familiar with them. And the menu is entirely worth the visit. Adorning several of the pictures are little carved vienna sausages. And what makes for a better menu than wiener sculptures?
I opted for the goulash and Christine went with the stuffed cabbage. Our waitress was every bit the slavic goddess and was prompt and efficient. My goulash was.. awesome.. Peppy and full of paprika, with a nice tomato cream sauce. The accompanying mashed potatoes were filled with enough cream and butter that the velvety texture rolled luxuriously in my mouth. Christine's stuffed cabbage was not so inspiring. I'm used to stuffed cabbage being highly spiced with garlic, majoram, or cinnamon, and covered in tomato sauce. This cabbage had neither. It was bland and over cooked. The cheese struedel we had for dessert was grainy and overly eggy, but tasted nice and we managed to finish the whole thing despite the unfortunate texture.
After dinner we took a leisurely walk over to Cap City and enjoyed the fine comic stylings of Maria Bamford. The first part of her show was a little too odd for me; I think she was trying out new material. But her second half was very funny and well worth the whole venture to Transylvania.
Bottom Line: Decent Eastern European fare, minimal hints of the Lord of Undead