We can’t remember when we’ve been so impressed by a meal. Forget the cost and order the house-made foie gras, rich beyond your wildest dreams and plated up with buttery toasted brioche, golden beets, and quince with Spanish sherry jam. The boquerones here are Lilliputian morsels of delight sauced with a piquant piperade; maitake mushrooms come crowned with a dramatic Idiazabal cheese sauce. The chocolate cremosa is decadent, dark chocolate ganache glazed with olive oil and accented with satsuma marmalade and canela crumble.
Decoratively the space is a tad bipolar, but the food is very fine. One of the best appetizers we’ve had recently was the ibérico ham, sliced thin and draped with pear across crostini accented with arugula and fried capers. We followed that with a hearty branzino, fried whole and resting on pungent green chermoula. The goat cheese–apple–honey dessert is transcendental. (3/14)
From the brothers of Botticelli’s, just up the street, this new place occupies the former Woodland digs. Dreamy chicken liver mousse arrived handsomely slathered on crunchy toast points, while a kale salad was jazzed up with roasted butternut squash, pomegranate, and toasted pumpkin seeds. Grilled scallops had just the right sear, balanced with a tangy blackberry-balsamic sauce and al dente bacon-laced orzo. But the star was a boozy scoop of bourbon ice cream served with salted caramel and crunchy caramel corn.
Given the crowds on a weeknight, there must have been pent-up demand in the Allandale and Rosedale neighborhoods for a casual Tex-Mex joint. At the former location of Casita Jorge’s, big tables of families—lots of young children running around—enjoy mild queso with bits of poblano, the adults washing it down with a lineup of M drinks—margaritas, mojitos, Mexican martinis, micheladas. The menu is familiar, and nothing is too spicy.
A quiet entry on the South Austin food scene, this casual neighborhood wine bar comes from the former GM of a long-ago downtown favorite, the Bitter End. The wine list is small but well selected—with half-price bottles offered on Sunday and Monday—and the Spanish-inspired menu offers a variety of bar snacks and tapas. The pimentón-dusted fries are a great start (especially with a cold beer).
Clinton “Doc” McPherson, a great ambassador and pioneer of the Texas wine industry, passed away early Saturday morning.
Bois d’Arc gives credence to this tiny Texas town’s name. Though it’s housed in a renovated fifties-era gas station, the atmosphere and upscale fare make one feels immersed in Parisian finery. A must-have dish (though a bit paradoxical) is the deeply Southern fried green tomatoes. Moving from there to the south of France, we feasted on a special of tender beef medallions layered on a bacon-garlic potato cake with béarnaise and a side of crisp sautéed asparagus. (1/14)
Though famous since 2007 in these parts for traditional Texas offerings, the Blue Frog will make you feel so close to Louisiana, both in locale and in the zesty fare, you’ll be convinced you’ve inadvertently slipped over the border. Whether it’s date night or a just-get-out-of-the-house kind of evening, this kitschy downtown spot offers live local music in addition to dishes like crab cakes, resplendent with generous chunks of lump crab.
We were hesitant to stop by this upscale spot, as past experiences had demonstrated wide variability in service and quality, but we were happily surprised at a recent lunch visit. Dakotas is locally renowned for its steaks, but a seafood mood directed us to a warm, spicy, creamy crawfish bisque and a thoroughly satisfying Alaskan flounder stuffed with crab, shrimp, and, sticking with the theme, crawfish.