Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Nomad -- a review

A much belated post about the The Nomad, which we visited with friends on our brief but enjoyable trip to Austin about a month ago. I remember watching that site at the end of the strip mall for progress all last summer, not really believing it would ever happen, and if it did, that it would feel fake or out of place. Never having entered the space, I wondered if it was going to be too small.

You who live near The Nomad already knew that Miguel has pulled off something rare. It's not small, nor dark, nor fancy. It's an expansive space with interesting nooks and corners; lots of different things can happen there, and you won't necessarily see, sitting in one place, what they are. I like my bars to offer mystery. I also admired the diversity of seating (benches, stools, reclining chairs), which seemed deliberately designed, but Miguel swore it was happenstance.

I wish I had more time there, to try his food and more drinks. Main thing is, he has Fireman's #4 on tap, a beer I'm enthusiastic about, especially when it's hot. But a bar is not only about what you put in your body, it's what you put your body in. The Nomad feels continuous with the rest of the neighborhood's 50's ranch-style feel, what an artist friend once complimented as "trickle-down modernism." You go to other places on Cameron Road, and you feel as if you're somewhere else, at the mouth of a road to some hellhole that seems less like Austin and more like, say, Matamoros. But the Nomad is actually the neighborhood reaching out to Cameron Road, not retreating from it. Here's hoping that the Nomad might make for a stylistic anchor for that stretch of road, much as Joe's and the Hotel San Jose became the stylistic pivots around which everything else on South Congress evolved.

You're lucky, if you live in Windsor Park and can have a drink there. It's a sign of light and life and things done right and offered in the right spirit. (Los Tequileros? Not so much.) And, if what I heard that night is true, that there will be a drive-thru coffee place at the other end of the strip, then that corner is going to be very important for a lot of people.

1 comment:

Miguel said...

I am blushing. -Miguel