Archive for the ‘Austin Restaurants’ Category

Food Drink Love

Moving on from this blog and starting something new.

You can follow me at http://fooddrinklove.wordpress.com/ and on Twitter at @fooddrinklove.

Cheers!

 

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ALC Steaks, the round-up

This week is not only Restaurant Week in Austin, but GO TEXAN Restaurant Round-Up week. It’s a statewide dine-out week to support and celebrate Texas farmers, ranchers, food artisans, winemakers and brewers. Not only do you get to support these folks and their hard-work but by participating you also support your local area food banks. Do I even need to mention that you’re also supporting sustainability? It’s a trifecta of deliciousness!

To kick-off this tasty week, I visited Austin Land & Cattle, not to be confused with Texas Land & Cattle. If you want a good steak in Austin, that’s the place to go!

Arugula, Heirloom Tomatoes and Mozzarella

For starters, I sampled Arugula, Heirloom Tomatoes and Mozzarella with a White Balsamic Reduction. The mozzarella came from the Dallas Cheese Company and the rest from Frank Davis Farms in Fredericksburg, TX and McFall Creek Farms in Blanco, TX. I could have done without the arugula, but I’m not really an arugula kinda gal. The cheese was well made – great consistency and flavor and the heirlooms were lovely in the balsamic reduction. Just enough sea salt.

T-Bone Steak with Roasted Cream Corn & Sweet Potato Sticks

For the main course, I ordered the Grass Fed 1 LB T-Bone Steak with Roasted Cream Corn and Sweet Potato Sticks. The steak came from the Bastrop Cattle Company in Bastrop, TX and the corn and sweet potatoes came from Smith Farms in Elgin, TX. The steak was a little tough but that’s probably because for a t-bone I should have ordered it medium rare instead of medium. The cream corn was luscious and creamy. The sweet potato fries were lightly battered sticks of tastiness. They were nice and crispy yet soft inside. Definitely worth every calorie.

Crispy Spinach

Speaking of crispy, I sampled the Crispy Spinach that came with the Chile Rubbed Grilled Gulf Grouper. Flash frying makes the spinach become paper thin and slightly crunchy. Very interesting.

Cheesecake with Grilled Peaches

The sweet finish was ALC Homemade Cheesecake with Grilled Peaches. The cheesecake was made with organic milk from Organic Valley Farms in San Antonio, TX and the peaches were from Pedernales Valley Farms in Fredericksburg, TX (of course). The cheesecake was incredible and rich and the peaches add just a little tartness.

Throughout my meal, I enjoyed a 2009 Sangiovese from Flat Creek Estate in Marble Falls, TX. Get ready; this Friday also kicks off my favorite month of the year – Texas Wine Month!

To learn more about the GO TEXAN Restaurant Round-Up, running statewide Sept 27th – Oct 1st, visit their site.  #GOTEXAN

Austin Land & Cattle – 1205 North Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78703 

512-472-1813 – @alcsteaks

An Urban Review

I had the pleasure of tasting Urban’s upcoming menu (launching Oct 1st) by Chef Mizael Saucedo (formerly of Bess Bistro and Fonda San Miguel).  After eating a raw lunch, I was dying for some warm “comfort” food.

Tasting Menu

Being new to the food blogging community, this was my first official tasting. Excitement isn’t a word to describe what I felt, more like elated. Reviewing the “menu”, I was overwhelmed with choices and then I quickly realized I didn’t have to pick, I was going to taste it all!

Sweet Corn Bisque w/ Roast Corn Pico de Gallo

They couldn’t have picked a better way to start but with the Sweet Corn Bisque and Roast Corn Pico de Gallo.  The pico was fresh and presented delightfully. The bisque was rich and creamy. It would be perfect for a cold day. Well, actually perfect for any day. I was sad to see it end.

Grilled Crab Cake & Texas Quail

The next course was the Texas Quail on green tomato chow chow with grits and Guajillo honey and the Grilled Crab Cake with avocado, micro cilantro and dynamite sauce. The grits were excellent. I found myself scrapping the plate to gather every last grit. The honey was beautiful. I had to look up Guajillo and found it to be a type of pepper used in Mexican cuisine. It added just a little bite to the honey. Nice. The crab cake was more like a deconstructed crab cake. It was fresh and flavorful. The dynamite sauce and avocado complimented the cake well. The cake was quickly devoured.

Texas Spinach Salad & Steak Salad

The salad course was wonderful. It consisted of all the elements I could stand behind in a salad. The Texas Spinach Salad had a warm bacon vinaigrette and sunny side up egg. I could eat salad every day if it had this bacon vinaigrette on it. The other salad was the Steak Salad on butter lettuce with candied pecans and achiote vinaigrette. The steak was tender. I would take each bite, slather the vinaigrette all over and wrap the lettuce around it. Delicious.

Butternut Squash Risotto

Next came out the Butternut Squash Risotto with wild mushrooms, sage and wilted chard. It was a nice reminder that fall was around the corner.

Seared Tuna

The Seared Tuna with fingerling potatoes and truffle vinaigrette. It had purple fingerling potatoes! What a pretty plate! Admittedly my first bite was one of the fingerling. I never had one before. Hardy.

Berkshire Prime Rib of Pork

After the tuna, I sampled the Berkshire Prime Rib of Pork with sautéed apples, pearl onions and caramelized soy. Have you had caramelized soy? It was amazing. A perfect sauce with the pork and apples. Yum!

Bar Steak

Last of the entrees was the Bar Steak – Strube Ranch flat iron steak with chile arbol chimichurri sauce. I usually like my steak bare but I really enjoyed the chimichurri sauce.  I even used it as a dipping sauce for my salt & pepper fries.

Avocado Tres Leches

The final round was the Avocado Tres Leches with sun-dried creme fraiche. What an interesting concept! I would have never thought to put those together. I recently saw a chef making avocado mousse on a cooking show and wondered how that would taste. So when I saw this on the tasting menu, I was thrilled. It was good. I caught a few hints of the avocado in each bite. I thought the sun-dried creme fraiche was lovely and I could see that translating to other dishes, not just dessert.

Overall, Urban had a tasty selection to choose from and I could see it appealing to a variety of taste buds. I found the staff to be accommodating and eager to receive feedback and answer questions. I am definitely interested in trying the brunch next. Keep you posted.

Urban, An American Grill (in the Westin) – 11301 domain drive, austin, tx 78758

http://www.urbanatthedomain.com – @urbandomain

An Argentinean Delight

El Arbol recently opened. Driving by one day, I found their South American inspired exterior very chic and I thought – wonder if their food is as good as their building looks? So I asked my friend Mari to join me for drinks and the always needed gab session. The menu features South American inspired cocktails and Argentinean food using produce and meat from Texas farms and ranches. Go Texan!

Mari

When I strolled into the bar, I noticed that Mari had already started with a fresh looking Caipirinha. On a hot, muggy day like today I thought, perfect! The Caipirinha did not disappoint in fact, I liked it so much, I ordered a second.  It was crisp and tart. Delicious. Those tasty lime drinks always go so quickly.

Caipirinha

Mari and I started off with the Provoleta and two empanadas – the Mendoza and Carne Suave. The Provoleta is a cheese lovers dream as you dip your crostini in and gather the smoky provolone blend around the toasted edges. The oak wood flavor really came through and worked nicely with the paprika and oregano. With all the different flavors, you could still savor the cheese. But once the cheese cooled, it made it difficult to continue to enjoy the experience. I love cheese but I wasn’t excited about carving out hunks of congealed cheese. Our server noticed that we stopped eating it and suggested that he take it back and comped us. I was impressed with his gesture. (If you decide to get this, I suggest you eating it very quickly and/or asking them to reheat it once it cools.)

Provoleta

We then moved on the two empanadas. The Mendoza featured a mix of pork, raisins, onions and almonds. It was an interesting blend. Good but nothing I would order again. The Carne Suave was a “suave” mix indeed with sirloin, potatoes, onion and spices. Me being a steak and potato girl, I of course was delighted with the Carne Suave and thought the spices complimented the meat nicely.

The Mendoza and Carne Suave Empanadas

After we finished, we were still craving something more, so we ended up ordering the Matambre. I loved it. Mari loved it! It was delicious! The flank was cooked perfectly and all the elements of the dish worked so well together. I couldn’t get enough of the Malbec demi-glace and the rosemary mustard sauce blended together. I would slather the meat in it. Yum! Definitely a dish I would order again! We of course didn’t have room for dessert after that but they did have some interesting “Postres” listed and are worthy of a try in the future.

Matambre

Overall, Mari and I enjoyed our experience. I would definitely go back to El Arbol for another round, possibly try some of their entrées and sip on one of their Cairpirnha Mora, (mmm blackberries). I liked the cool retro South American vibe and the service was excellent. If you were to go South American, El Arbol is a good choice.

El Arbol – http://www.elarbolrestaurant.com/

Nutella Me All Over!

After having a crazy weekend of working, my case of the Mondays was something fierce. I headed to Apothecary to enjoy a little vino, try something sweet and gab with my friend Emily.

I had heard they were in the process of revamping their menu and will be featuring some goodies devised by Chef Johnny Romo. Daily they have been featuring their latest creations on their Facebook page and the one that caught my eye was the Nutella Crepe. The page promised it to be “quite possibly the sexiest plate featured at Apothecary” and me being a sucker for visually appealing dishes, I had to try it. But let’s be real…anything with Nutella in it, has to be is good!

Nutella Crepe

They smother Nutella on to fluffy crepes and then tightly wrap them to be sliced into small rolls. The rolls are dowsed in a yummy port and berries sauce and topped with a light fresh whipped crème. After savoring the first few bites, the crepes quickly disappeared from the plate. I wasn’t a complete glutton, I did allow Emily to enjoy a few bites. I found the nuttiness of the Nutella comforting. The port berry sauce not to be too sweet and the berries still a little tart. Nice. The crepes were the right consistency. After the crepes vanished, I found myself dipping my finger and dragging it across the plate. As my index finger dragged across the plate, it quickly and efficiently covered itself with the leftover mixture of Nutella and the port berry sauce. Then ever so coolly I slowing brought my finger to my lips and allowed the flavors to mingle on my tongue. I wanted to prolong the experience as much as I could. I repeated this step a few times and then relinquished our plate to the server. I will definitely be making a repeat order the next time I stroll in. It was the perfect ending to a crappy Monday.

As Emily and I were leaving, I had a total foodie rockstar moment and met Tyson Cole. He was sharing one of the antipasto plates and bottle of white wine with his beautiful wife, Rebekkah. He was ever so cool and humble as we discussed my experiences at Uchi, how we came across Apothecary and our appreciation for Nutella. He too is a fan. In the world of chefs, there are a few divas, it’s nice to meet the chefs who still appreciate their fan base and who remain down to earth.

Apothecary Café & Wine Bar – www.apothecaryaustin.com

At the Snack Bar

This post also appears on AustinOnTheRocks where I regularly contribute posts as a Guest Blogger on happy hours, brunch, restaurants and bars around Austin, TX.

Last night, I decided to check out Snack Bar on South Congress and asked my friend Kristi to join me. It sits nicely on South Congress next to the Austin Motel and bares traces of a 50s era diner but with an Austin feel. Perfect for SoCo’s funky Austin vibe. Sitting on the patio, I mentally noted that this would be a perfect location for brunch or people watching on First Thursdays! As we looked over the menu, I was pleased to find that they are incredibly thoughtful in considering dietary needs and had many vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options to choose from, from their snacks (appetizers) to their desserts. Our server was also quick to make any changes to our order to meet any dietary needs or preferences. Along with dietary needs, many of the menu items included organic juices and ingredients. Oh and did I mention they serve the brunch menu all day, every day! And they operate eco-friendly by composting and recycling and buying local.

Pomgrenada with Remonake

With it being happy hour and all, we decided to start with a few cocktails mixed with organic juices – for me, the Pomgrenada and for Kristi, the Remonake. Both were fabulous! The Pomgrenada is ideal for those who have a fondness for pomegranate juice and/or bubbly. Kristi’s Remonake was like a refreshing lemonade, perfect for a hot day.

Kristi drinking her Remonake

Skipping the snacks, we headed straight for the entrées. I ordered the bleu burger with blue cheese, bacon and pickled onions. Cooked to perfection, it was juicy and greasy like a diner burger should be. I quickly devoured my burger enjoying all the elements in each bite. Kristi ordered the veggie burger with brie, apple raisin chutney and caramelized onions. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Kristi’s order because the veggie burger was stuffed with avocado. How would that taste with brie and apple chutney? Delicious. How unexpected!

Bleu Burger with Bacon & Pickled Onions

Veggie Burger w/ Brie, Caramelized Onions & Apple Raisin Chutney

Mac & Cheese

We ended up splitting the snack size mac and cheese with our entrees and it was comforting like a mac and cheese should be. And usually I would finish off my meal with a dessert but the burger and mac and cheese did me in for the night. If I had any more room I would have probably ordered the peanut butter pie or the black and tan (dark chocolate brownie and peanut butter blonde with ice cream on top). I did end up finishing my time at Snack Bar with one of their reds, a Grenache blend, 2008 Beckmen Cuvee Le Bec, biodynamic and very tasty. I will definitely return to Snack Bar again, and again!

Happy Hours are M-F from 4-7pm – $1 off fancy drinks and beer, $2 off select plates and snacks and $3.50 organic house wine. And pet-friendly on the patio! Visit Snack Bar.

Follow MeFoodie on Twitter at @fooddrinklove

TNT

This post also appears on AustinOnTheRocks where I regularly contribute posts as a Guest Blogger on happy hours, brunch, restaurants and bars around Austin, TX.

Tuesday night, I ventured to TNT with my friend Emily. I passed it on 5th street a few weeks back, and recently discovered TNT stood for Tacos and Tequila. I needed to check this place out! Vision of mixed drinks and assorted tacos baited my stomach and lured my taste buds, and I was reeled in like a fish.

My Friend Emily

At first, I was overwhelmed with the scrumptious options of tequila drinks mixed with agave nectar and fresh fruit juices; there were so many I wanted to try! So I decided to start with the basic house margarita. Emily decided to stick with the house red. Drinks on the way, our server introduced us to the savory quesadilla bar with choices of Chile Glazed Steak and Southwest Veggie. Turns out, TNT offers free quesadillas until 6:30 during happy hour. We considered ourselves lucky for getting an early start! Another complementary treat at TNT, crispy sweet potato chips with a creamy chipotle mayo dipping sauce. These are not to be missed!

Sweet Potato Chips with Creamy Chipotle Mayo

For our entree, we split the Good Karma Guacamole and the TNT platter. The house margarita was good but typical for a house margarita; I stepped it up with their Cucumber Jalapeño Margarita. The Good Karma Guacamole was made fresh at our table and with roasted garlic, giving it a very smoky delicious flavor. It may seem pricey on the menu, but we found it to be worth it. Not to mention, a portion of proceeds of the guacamole goes to Urban Roots. Our platter arrived with three different tacos, Corn Crusted Chicken, Korean Beef and Rojo Shrimp and two sides, Chimayo Market Corn and Black Bean Adobe Pie. The Chimayo Market Corn was absolutely heavenly! I was hooked by its sweet, buttery kernels smeared with cotija cheese and sprinkled with red pepper. The adobe pie was a tamale shaped in a flan dish covered with a cream sauce and pico de gallo. I finished the meal with my refreshing margarita. Cucumber based drinks are perfect for the summer. I was surprised that it wasn’t too spicy even with the jalapeño. Overall, I found my food to be flavorful and the drinks worth a sip or three.

Good Karma Guacamole

TNT Platter

Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita

Happy Hour is Mon-Fri from 4-7pm. Drink specials includes $4 house drinks and $2 draft beer. Free retail parking at the Gables Pressler Apartments. Visit TNT .

Follow MeFoodie on Twitter at @fooddrinklove