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The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Hillside Farmacy’s charms with retro atmosphere, delivers mediocre food and service

Rebeca Rodriguez

The Hillside Farmacy restaurant’s cheese plate consists of Manchego, Hoja Santa, and La Peral Blue. The restaurant, located on East 11th Street, is a renovated pharmacy, which now has old cabinets filled with pastries and quiches from local bakeries.

Walking into Hillside Farmacy is like walking into the 1940s. Complete with old pharmacy cabinets, glass display cases filled with tempting sweet pastries and savory quiches from local bakeries (including Cake & Spoon and Pie Fixes Everything), the new East 11th Street eatery and grocery takes diners back in time.

The outdoor tables are set with mason jars filled with mismatched vintage silverware wrapped in an unfussy kitchen towel. The mason jars serve as drinking glasses that diners can fill from a carafe of water that is brought to the table.

Even the wait staff seem as though they've stepped out of another era, wearing cuffed jeans with worn-out Converse sneakers or thick mod glasses. All that's missing is an old-fashioned soda fountain.

The food is, unfortunately, not as charming as the atmosphere. The Farmacy plate, which comes with two meats — last week they served a house-made chicken, pork and beef pate and a chorizo sausage — and two artisanal cheeses, was not worth the $16 price. The chorizo was a strange mix of sweet and smoky that did not pair well with either cheese or any of the other accoutrements on the plate. The pate was flavorful, but a bit on the dry side, and the cheeses were good, though nothing to write home about.

This initial mediocrity could be overlooked if the rest of the meal was outstanding. But some of the other menu items were just so-so, including the salt-cured peppers stuffed with sausage. The sausage filling only added to, rather than offset, the salinity of the peppers.

On the bright side, the Cook's Sandwich, made with sliced pate, bacon, arugula and goat cheese, was tasty and the bread it was served on was crusty and fresh. The mac ‘n’ cheese, served in a personal cast-iron skillet, was delicious: the medley of cheese mixed with golden bread crumbs melded together pleasantly, and the macaroni shells were perfect for scooping the fatty oils from the melted cheese. The drinks were the highlight of the meal. Although pricey (most cocktails were $10 a piece), they were interesting and well mixed. The house-made punch, which sits in a large glass serving bowl at the front counter, was easy to drink — too easy, perhaps — and not overly sweet. The grapefruit-jalapeno margarita was spicy and refreshing, and the salted rim of the glass tasted as though it had been squeezed with lemon juice and jalapeño.

The service lagged, despite the fact that there was no wait and plenty of servers. The long wait time between courses might have been attributed to the fact that the place is new and they were still working out the natural kinks of a new restaurant, but Hillside Farmacy has been open for about two weeks, so it's not unreasonable to assume that the kinks might have been smoothed out before now.

If you just order a sandwich, you'll only be out $9 or $10, but the sandwiches are small and come unadorned by side dishes. The small plates are a tempting way to try a little bit of everything, but the bill adds up quickly. Each of the tapas-style plates are between $8 and $14. Add $20 for a half-dozen raw oysters and $10 dollars for a drink, and Hillside Farmacy easily stays out of the financial reach of most college students.

Give this place a try in a few weeks when they've had the chance to even out their service and tweak their recipes. The concept is enchanting and the decor inviting, but the food and service lack in execution.

Printed on Monday, March 19, 2012 as: Charming eatery serves up average fare

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Hillside Farmacy’s charms with retro atmosphere, delivers mediocre food and service