Friday, June 25, 2010

Satellite Cafe in South Austin

Ever since I had the lettuce wraps at P.F. Chang's, who knows how long ago, I fell in love. The crisp lettuce cups the size of my head, sweet, crunchy, flavorful filling of chicken, and more had me at hello. One of my favorite little spots in South Austin is the Satellite Bistro & Bar. The menu boasts choices galore, everything from crab cakes to stacked enchiladas. Each time I sit in the cosmic setting, it takes me a minute to decide. On a weekend lunch outing with my Mom, we stepped into the cafe for a bite. I saw the lettuce wraps as an appetizer on the menu and my eyes widened with glee. I asked the waitress if they were big enough for lunch for person who enjoys her food, she said they would be plenty. Mom ordered the fish tacos, which are another must at the restaurant. I had a bit of shock and awe when my plate arrived. It was huge. Mountains of chicken goodness, toppings, crunchy wonton strips, and of course the lettuce the size of my head, led to a mini dance at the table. I piled each bit of goodness into the lettuce as if putting together a present for a dear friend. I wrapped the lettuce like a soft taco and took my first bite. Visions of my virgin lettuce wrap experience popped in my head. Was it possible to fall in love again? Yes, it was. The wraps at Satellite have a bit more bite, and I like it. My Pinot Grigio was the perfect partner for my Asian appetizer. Mom thoroughly enjoyed her tacos, and the conversation was of course wonderful. Stop in for brunch, lunch, or dinner if you're in this suburban hotspot of Austin. You'll thank your lucky stars you did.

Satellite Bistro & Bar
Twitter: @satellitebistro


I have been wanting to try Wink in Austin for years now. It literally is down the street, and I've never made it surprisingly. Well hello to again, and an official good-bye dinner for my dear friend Casey. She was off East for her career promotion and the thing we do best together is eat. We headed to Wink and got ready for all the rumors of greatness to be true. The restaurant is split in two separate sections. The right entrance is for reservations, the left for the bar and other come and go seating. We sat at the bar, which may be the best seat in the house. We had the bartender at our beckon call to answer all questions drink related. We fortunately ended up sitting next to the Wine selector for the restaurant. He gave us suggestions and tastings from his perfect personal choices. Seriously good start and ultimate finish to the night. Back to the middle of the culinary story. The menu changes daily, so we jumped right into the night's offerings. We ordered the cheese plate of the bar menu. I swear I've never had a full on bad cheese plate. It was excellent of course with one of its favorite partners, wine. We chose a Malbec, well the only Malbec on the wine list. Affordable yet satisfying. Then we got down to business. Casey chose the Dayboat Scallops (arugula, pattypan squash, sorrel emulsion, lemon grass vinaigrette). Cooked to PERFECTION. Light, sweet, the bounce back but softness you should get with good execution. I chose the Braised Rabbit leg (herbed gnudi, baby squash, lemony peashoots, and squash blossoms). Stick a fork in me and call me DONE. This was one of the best food marriages I've had. The vows exchanged by each flavor made my tastebuds tear up with love and adoration. Excellent. The rabbit tender, the lemony peashoots such a surprise, and gnudi a new fav. We chose desserts as if it could get any better. Well soldier, it DID. Caps are needed for this one. We selected the El Rey Chocolate cake (warm flourless chocolate cake, el ray chocolate, zinfandel infused cherries), and the Lemon Meringue pot (tart lemon curd, crisp meringue cup, candied lemon zest and berries). The chocolate cake was fantastic, but let me say the meringue pot stole the show. One of the best desserts ever. So light, so tart, so creamy. The candied lemon zest was out of sight. I could snack on it all day long. Wink is definitely one of my top picks in Austin after the visit. Go in for a drink at the bar, but don't forget the dishes that you can experience. It's worth every bite.

Wink Restaurant
Twitter: @winkrestaurant

Blue Dahlia, back again

One of my favorite things as an eater is trying new restaurants, or ones I've never been to. On the opposite side of that statement, when you find something that works, it becomes part of your eating "you are here" map. A staple. One of those places in Austin, is Blue Dahlia. I would have to say it's about 50% atmosphere, 50% food. You think weekend lunch, you think Blue Dahlia. See here for more of this welcoming tasty place. As stated before, my dear friend Casey was on her way to new career beginnings up East. She, my mom and I headed to Blue Dahlia for a leisurely lunch. I began with a latte which is served in a cup the size of a soup bowl. Delish. We each chose a Tartine (open faced sandwich) for our meals. Mom chose the Ham with gruyere cheese & Dijon mustard, Casey chose the Tuna with basil, capers and sun dried tomatoes, and I chose the Chicken salad with nuts and dried cranberries. I think Mom won eaters prize for this one. It not only felt like a European picnic choice, but was tasty. Both mine and Casey were good, but not my favorite tartine I've had. We finished with lemonade and Bread Pudding with butter rum sauce. Get the Bread Pudding now. So moist, so guilty pleasure, so buttery. An excellent way to end our light lunch. Head over to E. 11th. enjoy the spot and scenery of the streets.

Blue Dahlia Bistro
Twitter: @bluedahliaATX

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Uncorked Round Two (yes round two)

I have many successful, smart, driven girlfriends in my life and Casey is no exception. She recently received her MBA and a promotion in her career. It was her last weekend in town before her big move East and eating was on the agenda. She is one of my all time favorite dining partners. A mini girl's night was organized, and Uncorked was selected to feed the hunger(with another gift certificate from One of the best things not mentioned in my previous Uncorked Round One entry, is the great patio and downtown view at the restaurant. A big factor in our decision. My first dining experience at the restaurant was in the evening, Round Two was right before sunset. Although the Texas heat, that will have you cursing its humidity was apparent, we still had the best time. We started with a wine selection recommended by another knowledgeable waiter. Funny enough, our first choice was unavailable, but we settled on a lovely Brandsen Malbec from Mendoza. Another steal at $27 for the bottle. Apps started with the International Cheese Board (selection of imported cheeses with grapes, honey and baguette). They, like most cheese plates, were fantastic. The honey was incredible and got our taste buds ready for more. We went for entrees and chose the Roasted Rack of Lamb (South American style with chimmichurri, garbanzo salad and watercress), Uncorked Hummus Trio with Pita Wedges, and the Seared Ahi Tuna Nicoise Salad. Unfortunately, both Casey and my lamb was a bit overcooked. I was so disappointed because it was such a favorite from my last visit. The hummus was delicious, each very different and bursting with flavor. The salad was great too, which large seared tuna pieces. A great night, with great women! Take a trip for yourself, and see what this little house has to offer. Daily and weekly specials are created by Chef Ron White, and you will most likely find him behind the bar recommending selections to your liking!

Uncorked Tasting Room & Wine Bar

Easy as pie lunch, sans the pie

One of the foods I associate so much with childhood is shells. The medium sized shell shaped pasta takes me back to my grandma's house where I'd spend all day playing and she'd make me shells with butter and salt. It makes me feel like a little kid, happy as a lark. I now eat the same dish once in awhile, but love to use the shells with a bunch of other goodies. One of my favorite cheap lunches is Shells with canned tuna, black beans, canned corn, red bell pepper, avocado, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and a homemade dressing (lemon, olive oil, white wine vinegar and another dash of salt). I could eat it all day, and usually make a huge bowl of it. I'm talking huge mixing bowl, not that tiny white bowl. The creaminess of the avocado, sweetness of the corn, crisp pepper and black bean flavor make it all come together. A great have a minute and that's it lunch. Enjoy!

Uncorked Round One

The woman I most admire in the world had a birthday, and it needed to be celebrated. My brother and I took my Mom to Uncorked to enjoy and rejoice in the amazingness that she is. None of us had been to the little house on the hill just on the east side of town, and luckily had a discounted certificate (buy $25 certificate for $2!) which I snatch up when I can. We didn't know what to expect, and it exceeded most of any expectations we could of had. We were seated and presented the wine and food menu. For anyone who has no clue about the wonderment that is wine, this is the place to start. The menu is organized in a 'Winedex' by country, type, sweetness, fruitness, and non-fruit flavor (like earth). You can select the glass or bottle based upon a very distinct breakdown. We went through several choices, the restaurant was out of 2 of them, and ended up with the waiter's recommendation of the Dona Paula Malbec from Mendoza. It was fantastic and each one of us enjoyed it. Not bad at all especially for the $29 bottle price tag. We ran through the menu with our waiter, who was very knowledgeable. He had a farm of his own with his family, and said he eats the food he produces and at Uncorked. The menu has a small number of entrees but ones that range from meat to seafood. The birthday girl chose the All Natural Airline Chicken Breast (roasted garlic cognac cream sauce served with braised collard greens). I chose the Roasted Rack of Lamb (South American style with chimmichurri, garbanzo salad and watercress) and dear brother chose the Angus Tenderloin Au Poivre (melted blue cheese, rosemary roasted potatoes and red wine reduction). Mmm, mmm, mmm. I cannot tell you how good the lamb was that night. It was rare, juicy and was was refreshingly backed by the chimmichurri and salad. I adore chimmichurri and it made the lamb feel like it was back home and I was visiting it for dinner. Fantastic. The tenderloin was also a great choice. The wine reduction was like a dark stained wood. Deep, rich, and comforting. Mom enjoyed her chicken, as she usually never orders chicken in a restaurant. It was cooked well and enjoyable. We finished with the chef's take on Strawberry shortcake and brownie sundae. Uh my gawd, so so so good. The brownie had a touch of chili, which of course elevated the flavor. The shortcake was perfect. So light, so fresh, and laced with a citrus decadence. The night was so great, and we couldn't have celebrated a more wonderful woman and mother. Cheers to good food and wonderful family.

Uncorked Tasting Room & Wine Bar

Uncorked 'Winedex'

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ay Guid Food!

One of the hidden food finds in Austin happens to be Dog & Duck Pub. This near campus, patio lined, dark interior pub has been an Austin institution for years. I met my dear friend Ryan for drinks one night to enjoy the almost summer night. We each grabbed our pups and headed down the street. We ordered a few rounds of beers, Stella I do believe, and I got an order of Scotch Eggs. If you're not aware of the heaven that is a Scotch Egg, this is not my first blogger's rodeo with the dish. It's one of my favorites. It feels like you're taking a bite into Scottish history with the fried sausage and rustic hard-boiled egg. Dog & Duck met all my expectations. A different take than I've had before was a bit of Orange marmalade on the side. Delicious. The perfect fruity kick to balance the egg. Be sure to check out Dog & Duck's daily menus. Grab a patio seat, or hide-away inside. Definitely a place to put on your eating rounds.

Dog & Duck Pub
Twitter: @Dogandduckpub