A dish of smoked and seared duck exhibits the artful plating at Counter 357. (Laura Skelding/AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The sunglow yellow cucumber flower that brightened a plate of sumptuous country pâté came from chef Lawrence Kocurek’s garden. The pickled and sliced quail eggs, magenta on the outside with jonquil yellow yolks, paid homage to his grandparents.

We didn’t learn this information from the menu or a news release. Kocurek told us from his position across the counter as he served the second of seven courses during a wine-paired meal at Counter 357.

Kocurek is the executive chef at the Congress Avenue restaurant he and owner Eric Earthman opened in March. Counter 357, located in the former Dress Shop below Swift’s Attic, deviates from traditional expectations by serving a trio of fixed-menu offerings (three, five and seven courses). The restaurant actually spells its name Counter 3. Five. VII., a misguided decision (for reasons of marketing, aesthetics and common sense) that I won’t attempt to unravel here.

Other restaurants across the country (Orsa & Winston in Los Angeles and Almanac in New York City) play with numerous multi-course fixed menu options, but Counter 357’s approach is unique in Austin. Congress, a block away, ended their adherence to two fixed-course options last year, and Qui and Barley Swine present guests with a single fixed menu. That leaves Counter 357 to operate in a singular space.

To continue reading the full review, head to MyStatesman.com.