Blackbird & Henry

In the mix of this springs many restaurant openings, Chef Mark Schmidt opened Blackbird & Henry just north of West Campus, offering upscale quality eats in a neighborhood environment. Prior to relocating to Austin, Chef Schmidt was the former owner and executive chef of the much-lauded Café 909 restaurant in Marble Falls. Having been once since it opened, Blackbird & Henry had been very much on my list of places to return. After hearing rave reviews from coworkers reporting back after I had recommended it, I decided it was high time to revisit the restaurant – this time during the newly added lunch service.

Salmon Ceviche - $12

Salmon Ceviche – $12

We started with a promising sounding salmon ceviche marinated with charred tomatoes and jalapenos off the day’s specials menu. Though I expected a little more kick from the jalapenos, the tomatoes added an unexpected depth to the dish. A tad more lime wouldn’t have hurt, but overall it was a solid start to our meal. Moving on to the main event, we opted for the Smoked Trout Salad and the Blackbird Burger.

Smoked Trout Salad - $11

Smoked Trout Salad – $11

The combination of smoked trout and hardboiled duck egg with crispy green beans and endive created a dish that was both refreshing and hearty. The whole grain mustard dressing gave it that perfect tangy kick which added a nice depth to the dish. Continue reading Blackbird & Henry

La Cocina de Consuelo

Despite having been recommended La Cocina de Consuelo by some very trustworthy sources over a year ago, I failed until now to take this sage advice. A few Sundays ago, I finally convinced a few wary friends to venture outside the box with a little arm twisting (nagging). Serious Tex-Mex cravings more often than not coincide with the tequila flu, and in those instances, there is something to be said about the safe and reliable, even when this means sacrificing fresh tortillas. At first, the no-frills atmosphere and lack of beer* did little to ease my friends’ trepidation, but any residual hesitations were soon erased after one taste of La Cocina de Consuelo’s fiery salsa and gooey queso.

Pollo de Monterey

Pollo de Monterey

La Cocina de Consuelo’s humble restaurant beginnings began after owner Connie Martinez began selling plates of enchiladas for her church fundraiser in the early 80s. After her enchiladas quickly garnered a cult following, Connie began a catering side business before finally realizing her dream of opening a brick and mortar in 2004. Truly a family owned and operated restaurant, the food originating in La Cocina de Consuelo’s kitchen seems to be made with a little extra TLC than the average Tex-Mex spot. Continue reading La Cocina de Consuelo

First Look: Josephine House

In the midst of the headline-grabbing newly reopened and revamped Jeffery’s of Clarksville, Larry McGuire & Co. also penciled in a time to open Josephine House next door after it underwent a similar makeover. In the past, the spot often served as primarily an event space, but it now serves a full service eatery specializing in drinks and small plates.

Josephine House

Josephine House

Josephine House is undeniably lovely; the nuanced details of the quaint space exemplify casual elegance, and its hard not to be charmed by Jeffery’s WASPy little sister restaurant. In fact, if this review were based on the ambiance alone, Josephine House would have garnered immediate gold stars. But with all its pretty trappings, Josephine House falls flat.
Continue reading First Look: Josephine House

Antonelli’s Cheese 101 Class

As luck would have it, I happened to check my email as Antonelli’s Cheese Shop sent out their weekly newsletter complete with a newly announced cheese class schedule. I jumped at the chance to sign up for their ever-popular Cheese 101 class, which tend to sell out as quickly as they are released. The class, led by owner John Antonelli and shop cheesemonger Kara, was an exceptional experience I recommend to novices and connoisseurs alike.

Antonelli's Cheese Board

Antonelli’s Cheese Board

While the class might have sold itself as intro, there was nothing basic about the generously portioned selection of cheeses we sampled throughout the evening. Composed of seven different cheese and various accompaniments, the board was both aesthetically and gustatorily pleasing. The different varieties represented each classic style from a wide range of regions, textures, and tastes. (Notes on each can be found after the jump.)

Continue reading Antonelli’s Cheese 101 Class

Teji Indian Restaurant

On one of several oddly cool late spring days, I found myself fighting the lunch crowd at the newly opened – and instantly popular- Teji’s Indian Restaurant on Guadalupe. The popular Round Rock Indian restaurant and grocery recently opened a second location, and it seems it didn’t take long for word to slip out. Attempting to pick up a quick bite on a busy workday, I probably should have gone elsewhere after watching an overwhelmed staff attempt to navigate through an ever-growing line of hungry patrons, but the aroma of Indian spices was too mouthwatering to ignore.

Chana . . . → Read More: Teji Indian Restaurant

First Look: Winflo Osteria

Mentioned here, Winflo Osteria opened its doors in Clarksville last week. Judging by the packed house on Tuesday evening, Winflo is a welcome addition to the neighborhood, and at first glance, it is easy to see why. Housed in a renovated bungalow dating back from the 20s, Winflo Osteria’s preopening facelift created a space that is warm yet modern. When visiting, make a point to take advantage of the expansive outdoor seating on the Prosecco-perfect front patio and catwalk.

Winflo Osteria

Winflo Osteria

The classic Italian menu focuses on pastas, pizzas, and traditional dishes such as porchetta and pesce puttanesca. Pizzas, cooked Neapolitan style in a wood-fire oven, feature a crust that is both tender and crisp. Continue reading First Look: Winflo Osteria

Drink of the Day: Hot Chocolate @Cafe Medici

Somewhere between Bing Crosby’s White Christmas and the frosty morning air I found myself inspired to forgo the usual cup of Jo for something a little extra special on a recent coffee run. Instead of doubling up on shots of espresso, I listened to my inner child and ordered a hot chocolate from Café Medici. Considering most the hot chocolates I’ve consumed were of the instant variety, this was quite a treat on several levels. While Café Medici’s baristas are known for doling out seriously brilliant espresso, it was pleasantly surprising to find they approached a simple hot chocolate . . . → Read More: Drink of the Day: Hot Chocolate @Cafe Medici

Tour de Thai: Thai Thani

After recently tapping into an unrealized infatuation with the flavors of Thailand beyond Pad Thai, I have initiated a quest to uncover Austin’s best Thai spots. This Tour de Thai comes at an ideal time since Austin’s dining scene has scene a surge of new Thai and other Asian-inspired spots popping up around town.

Today’s featured stop is Thai Thani.  Owned by a mother/daughter team, Thai Thani specializes in casual Thai street food dishes such as curries and stir-fries. Located in the parking lot of a stop ‘n go on Manor Road, the lone trailer would almost be easy to overlook if not for its bright yellow exterior and swarm of neighborhood regulars waiting for their orders.

Drunken Noodles w/Beef at Thai Thani – $6.95

My newfound taste for Thai was kickstarted by yellow curry, making my choice of entrée an easy one. The yellow curry was well balanced with just the right amount of heat and sweet. Continue reading Tour de Thai: Thai Thani