Rosewood – Austin, TX
Rachel and I recently took a little trip to see the Austin Symphony and Conspirare Symphonic Choir perform the monumental Brahms Requiem. When trying to find a spot for din din before the concert, we remembered that we'd visited an awesome new place just a few minutes to the south of my apartment in Austin for happy hour last fall, Rosewood, and had been intending to dine there for a proper dinner for some time.
Rosewood is a new restaurant in an old, restored house in the neighborhood of the same name in east Austin. They offer, like many places in Austin, Texas-focused cuisine, both in ingredients and types of dishes. They have a "tasting menu" on tap as well, 5 courses, which is really inexpensive, even relative to the a la carte menu. The space is absolutely perfect, and captures the charm of the old home with a modern twist, and a few little quintessential "Texan" touches.
We arrived early like the old folks we are and were seated in a room just on the other side of a door from the awesome open kitchen. We opened with cocktails––Rachel ordered the restaurant's eponymous cocktail, with gin, lemon, hibiscus, and bubbly, which was refreshing and delicious, and I ordered an "Earl Lavare" with gin, Earl Grey tea, lavender, and lemon, which was also tasty, but a little watery (perhaps the "mixer" was just straight-up tea).
As luck would have it, we were served another cocktail as our first beverage pairing: the Rosewood margarita (or Rose-arita) which had tequila, hibiscus, orange, lime, and chili salt. Alongside, we got some house-made biscuits with Oaxaca cheese marinated in a chili relish.
Our first course was served in an adorable cocktail glass, and consisted of two GIGANTIC rock crab claws fresh from the Texas Gulf coast with some house made remoulade. They were absolutely delicious, and though I was surprised at how simple the preparation was, I was impressed by the chef's presentation that allowed the ingredient, the local crab claws, to shine. Delicious! They didn't bring the bottles along with the glasses for the pairings, but this wine was a crisp Spanish white that went well with the chilled crab and sliced through the creamy remoulade.
The next course also had a Texas twist––gnocchi with chicharrone "noodles," pepitas, ricotta, basil, and a complex sauce that took flavor from the pork of the chicharrones. The chicharrones were tasty but a little texturally odd, since they were wet and therefore not crispy like you'd expect. A tasty dish, but not our most memorable of the night. Another white was served with this course, but I didn't take note of what it was! Would have been easier had they brought over the bottle... :)
Our next course was brought out in a family-style casserole dish, and was a cornmeal-dusted and fried quail with collards on a bed of grits. This was sooo tasty––nice and spicy, with a crispy fry on the bird and creamy grits underneath. I understand the impetus for the collards, so they could add a veggie to the dish, but this particular preparation seemed a bit misplaced. The red wine they served with it was tasty, but again, how can I remember without a label??
We got a surprise dish next, which I'm rather certain was supposed to go to the other table in our room, since they were given an identical dish a few minutes later, and also it didn't make sense in the progression of the meal, in addition to adding a sixth course! They were prawns grilled with paprika and served with a paprika butter and grilled toast. These were a nice surprise, although a little messy! Perfectly cooked, and the smoky paprika butter was delicious with the succulent meat. Thank goodness for my messy fingers that came from peeling these prawns––they swiftly brought us little packets of "Wet Ones."
Tri-tip was the last savory course of the evening, which was served with chimichurri over refried beans. They paired this with a Napa cabernet with a healthy oak profile. Chimichurri and steak are perfect bedfellows, and I also appreciated the unique refried bean accompaniment to the steak. The sirloin was grilled for a gorgeous mid-rare, and had a nice bark of spice on the outside. Very tasty!
For dessert, we were poured a small glass of port to pair with our AMAZING churro course. Crispy, with a melty interior, and a healthy dusting of cinnamon and sugar, just like the perfect churro should be. It was served with a crumble and dark chocolate ganache. Just delicious.
Happy to say that Rosewood met our expectations! I'd love to be able to see the bottles of wine we were being served, but otherwise, the food was simple, with an awesome Texas/Southwest flair, and filled us up nicely for a lovely performance of Brahms' Requiem afterward.
I realize it's been a while! In the next day or two I will have a review of some awesome new Japanese gins I have tried recently as well as a little overview of my visit to Athens, GA last weekend. Until then, eat well my friends!