With the Four Seasons Hotel’s sweeping view of one of Austin’s most unusual vistas—nightly bat flights snake out from under the Congress Avenue bridge and push east along Town Lake—dinners at the hotel’s Riverside Cafe (98 San Jacinto) are a double feature that’s hard to top. But the food here never plays a supporting role to the drama in the skies.
Executive chef Elmar Prambs’s offerings, such as the cheese strudel with smoked salmon and basil, are photogenic as well as versatile. This flaky, toothsome rendition of a German favorite, accompanied by tomato flowerpots stuffed with edible flowers, turns a meal into a big production.
Cheese Strudel With Smoked Salmon
⅓ cup boursin cheese
½ cup softened goat cheese
8 slices smoked salmon
8 fresh basil leaves
4 sheets filo dough, at room temperature
2 tablespoons clarified butter
⅓ cup bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix cheeses together. Place salmon slices on waxed paper, then top each slice with 1 basil leaf, followed by a layer of cheese mixture. Roll salmon slices up.
Stack filo sheets, then cut into 8 strips. Brush filo with butter, and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Transfer 1 salmon roll onto filo strip, and roll up into an egg roll–size roulade. Twist ends to seal. Repeat with remaining salmon slices and filo. Brush each roulade with butter. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet, and bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
To serve, arrange 2 strudel roulades on a plate and slice once at an angle. Place a tomato flowerpot next to them, and drizzle shallot vinaigrette over strudel and flowerpot (see recipes, below). Serves 4.
1 ½ shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Ground black pepper to taste
Sauté shallots and garlic in 1 teaspoon olive oil until brown. Add vinegar. Remove from heat, and let cool. Whisk in ½ cup olive oil, chives, and pepper.
4 medium tomatoes
1 small head baby lettuce
32 enoki mushrooms
4 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
Herbs and edible flowers as needed (organically grown nasturtiums, roses, violas, alyssum, or bluebonnets)
Cut tops of tomatoes off and remove seeds. Arrange baby lettuce, enoki mushrooms, chives, herbs, and edible flowers inside tomatoes.