Thursday, April 8, 2010

Austin: Day Four

Day four was our final full day in Austin and we wanted to go out with a bang. The kind of meal you'd remember for quite some time. One where the wine is paired, the courses are many, and you squeal with delight at each presentation, in awe of the chef's prowess. I wasn't sure if this could be found in Austin, but I did a fair amount of research and discovered a real gem: Restaurant Jezebel.

This is not a vegan restaurant, or even vegetarian, but they specialize in tasting menus and there is always the option to have a vegetarian menu on any given night. It only took one phone call to confirm that they'd be happy to create a vegan version for us. Hooray! Still, I was assuming they'd just remove the dairy from their already set vegetarian menu... but not here! I nearly fell out of my chair when the waitress came over with her set of questions: What do you like to eat? What do you really NOT want to see on your plate this evening? Are there cuisines you love? Preparations of food you just don't like? It was fantastic knowing that this meal was being created especially for us and that the chef would be putting his heart into food designed with us in mind. With that in mind, we begin.

We both love olives. These warm little bites came to the table right away and were coated in herbs and a rich balsamic reduction. Heavenly.

When asked, I told the waitress, half jokingly, that I like chocolate and the clever chef managed to incorporate cacao nibs into the appetizer course! This bruschetta with wilted greens (another ingredient I requested), roasted tomatoes, mango coulis, and cacao nibs was out of this world. I would never have thought to put all that together but it worked beautifully.
And, the creativity just went up from there.

The very hearty second course consisted of a poblano stuffed with hearts of palm then topped with fried carrots and cilantro and paired with a berry medley. The heat of the pepper and the sweetness of the berries was sublime, and the crispy fried carrots added the perfect bit of crunch. I adore this dish.

Our last savory course consisted of pasta with lentils and a sundried tomato presto served atop beet medallions. Again, why this all works together is beyond me, but it really REALLY does. I savored every bite.

By now, the light was fading, the wine was coursing through our veins, and we were presented with a dessert so decadent, so sinful, and yet so not-really-that-bad-for-you that I wanted to find the chef and crawl up inside his brain and live there for a while. What you are looking at is half an avocado that's been topped with a generous amount of chocolate sauce and mango reduction, and sprinkled with pistachios. So simple yet SO good. Groans and moans aplenty for this one, guys. Just brilliant.

And it wasn't over. Along with our bill came some homemade truffles of a dark chocolate so rich and smooth I could hardly stand it.

I feel honored to have eaten this meal and am happy to say that the chef made his way to our table to introduce himself and make sure we were enjoying ourselves. (We assured him that "enjoying" was an understatement.) He seemed genuinely happy to be able to take a break from his normal culinary proceedings and take us on a little adventure of the palate, and we couldn't thank him enough.

Seriously, if you find yourself in Austin, call up Restaurant Jezebel and have them go vegan for you. It will be one of the most unique and tasty meals of your life. It certainly was of mine.

Next up: Our day trip to San Antonio!

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