Culinary Dropout, Austin, TX

Hipster as <insert whatever you want here>. That’s what Culinary Dropout is. Honestly, it’s in The Domain so I expect nothing less. The Domain is a shopping center where trendy Hipsters with disposable cash go to blow it. The experience that these Hipsters pursue is supposedly unique, yet manufactured. It’s conforming in a non-conformist way and paying a premium to do so.

Culinary Dropout caters to this crowd perfectly. From my MBA knowledge, I give kudos to them. They know their market and cater to it well. Judging by the prices they charge, they’re also making a killing. You really can’t fault them for their business savvy.

If you’ve read this blog any time, you know I’m the opposite of a Hipster. You’d more likely find me at a place called JimBob’s BBQ Slop Pit than Culinary Dropout. The reason I came to this place was Victoria and some of her coworkers were hanging out.

I got there a little early and took some pictures of the outside. It appears they had a lot of games to keep you occupied.

When Victoria and her coworkers arrived, we headed inside to the table.

I looked at the menu to see what they had to offer.

Now this is where the good ole Hipster paradox comes in. You know unique yet manufactured. The service itself was both excellent and horrible at the same time. Our actual waiter was extremely knowledgeable and great overall. The people responsible for drinks flat out sucked. It took almost half an hour to get the drinks we ordered.

Now you might have thought we all got hard to mix drinks. It really wasn’t that. Being the cheapskate I am, I ordered their “double blind” special. That is a beer they choose and then wrap in a paper bag like you’re a hobo on the street hiding it from the cops. You also pull a single serve liquor bottle out of a bucket. It’s only $5 so what the heck! For me to get my hobo Keystone light and shot it took almost half an hour!

One of the appetizers we ordered was soft pretzels and cheese fondue. To be honest, this was really good!

The next appetizer that came out was this pathetic looking cheese tray. Maybe it’s I’m from Wisconsin and am used to cheese in massive quantities, but this tray looked pathetic!

Like I said, our normal waiter was really good. He described everything we were eating in extreme detail. The sheer amount this guy had to know to rattle off everything that was on the next plate was impressive. There were 3-4 each of about a dozen different things. He knew every single pairing and the significance of everything. I can tell whoever made this plate put way too much thought into it.

Now I rip on the appetizers, but they were good. Nothing tasted bad and I have to give credit where credit is due. It’s just the perceived aura that goes around this kind of food is kind of mind blowing. I guess a simple person like me doesn’t analyze their food to this level of detail. That’s what separates me from foodies.

Now the main course finally came. I just wanted something simple and cheap, so I ordered the M.A.C. burger. The description was “double cheeseburger, onion, lettuce, pickle.” You know a simple burger for a simple guy.

What I got was a wannabe Big Mac. Literally copied down to the T, just 3-4 times more expensive. I will admit it did taste exactly like a Big Mac.

Because we had been sitting around a while, my beer was empty. I ordered another one of the hobo specials and it took another 15 minutes to get it to me. All while I tried to choke down a burger with nothing to drink. This time I got a PBR!

Victoria got some fried chicken. They had a honey drizzle on it and it was good! I got the knock off McDonald’s, but the fried chicken wasn’t knock off KFC. It was much better than that. Like I said, give credit where credit is due!

Now for wifi, I saw a network, but it was password protected. I didn’t see a password anywhere.

The restaurant also had live music. The band sounded decent from what I could hear, but the restaurant itself was very loud. It was hard to hold a conversation.

So in the whole scheme of things, this is a bit snarky and negative sounding. I know people have asked me if I ever write negative reviews. I do, but I’m always trying to be as objective as possible.

Like I said, the food at this place was good. I had no objections to the quality of food itself. The main waiter we had was also very good. He was knowledgable and on the ball with things. I also liked a few things they had with the decor.

The thing I hated the most was the whole Hipster vibe to it. The drink service flat out sucked. It shouldn’t take 15-30 minutes to receive a drink after you order it. I know the whole Hipster sitting around and waiting is somewhat novelty. For me it’s not and I’m a stickler for good service.

This whole experience set Victoria and I back $70-80 with tip. That means I effectively paid $35-40 for a knock off Big Mac, 2 cheap beers, and 2 random shots. Being the everyday low price sort of guy I am, that’s not exactly value.

To all the Hipsters out there in Austin I’ll let you in on a little secret. You can get the same experience I got for a fraction of the price. Go to the intersection of MoPac and 2222. There’s a 7-11 there. Lot’s of bums hang out there and ask for change. They go to the 7-11 to buy their cheap beer with the change they receive. 7-11 will gladly put the beer in a paper bag for you. That’s the first step of this.

Now, at that same intersection you can walk half a block down and there’s a McDonald’s right there. Take your hobo beers and down them as you enjoy an authentic Big Mac. This whole process will only set you back probably $5-10. It’s a heck of a deal compared to going to The Domain and getting this experience manufactured for you. On the plus side, it’s 100% authentic!

To Culinary Dropout, I do have to say keep up the good work! I am clearly not your market segment, but that doesn’t matter. Hipsters are your market segment and you serve them well! It’s clear your management has the savvy to run a successful business. I’m sure you will have continued success. You make a good case study that I know I’ll be observing with my analytical MBA trained mind.

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