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Chance for One Dinner in Austin

Will be in Austin Saturday night only. Which fine dining restaurant is putting out the best food this week?

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  1. one dinner? No question.
    The Driskill Grill

    1. I am going to have to say :

      Uchi - Sushi/Asian
      Vespaio - Italian
      Gumbos - Cajun
      Zoot or Wink - New American

      But probably Vespaio if you could only eat at one of them.


      3 Replies
      1. re: looper

        Vespaio was my second choice (now that Castle Hill changed...sob)

          1. re: River Rat

            changed chefs (from what I hear, it's now the chef from Miribelle, which explains the loss in flavor...)

      2. you could have the fine dining, i'll take guerros.

        1 Reply
        1. re: byrd

          one meal, not fine dining? hmmm. anywhere in town - Polvo's for quajillo fajitas or Manuels for happy hour(hongos guisados, mole and chiviche).

          Last meal before I head out of town for a long while? Chuy's for the salsa fresca and one last chuychanga with lots of tomatillo sauce...cuz I always end up craving it.

          Oh, almost forgot - upscale and I don't know if you're coming from a "seafood" place, but Mikado Ryotei up on 183 makes the best sushi - love the Chorishi's Fire!

        2. Castle Hill really lost its edge over the last few years, overshadowed by newer places. The new CH chef, David Apthorpe, is from Mirabelle and was voted “Best Chef” in the 2002, '03, & '04 Austin Chronicle Restaurant Reader’s Poll, and he is a CIA grad. The new chef at Mirabelle is Greg Olten (sp?).

          2 Replies
          1. re: BigboyDan

            In your opinion, which is better now, Castle Hill or Mirabelle?

            For the record, I've never liked the duck sausage gumbo at both places. Otherwise, I think both restaurants are great values at lunch.

            1. re: Kent Wang

              Even with the chef change, I've always found Mirabelle to be WAY to bland for my tastes.

              Before the chef change, I disagree about the inconsistancies of CH and I found their lunch to be the best deeal in town. However, since the change, I find it to be much more inconsistant with the flavors, which can be a big dissapointment when it's off.

          2. I, too, like both places. Mirabelle has been more consistantly good at their core menu than that of Castle Hill, but the menu of the former is not as varied as that of the latter. CH can be madenly uneven, including a total menu loser every once in a while (a too fusion-y reach?); but, as of yet, no meatloaf, heh-heh. CH still offers its Southwestern fare, and my guess is that several of the patron-loved menu items will remain. In the eyes of their owners, Castle Hill is still much more important than Mirabelle. If I were to choose between the two for lunch today, I'd go to Castle Hill.

            1. So much depends upon where you are coming from. If, for example, it's San Francisco, I'd advise you to skip Austin's Asian restaurants, like the terrific Uchi. New York City or St. Louis or other large metropolitan area with a large Italian population? Don't bother with our otherwise wonderful Vespaio.

              If you're coming from a small town in the middle of Iowa, on the other hand, both of those are good choices.

              But if you have access in your home locale to a wide variety of excellent eateries and want something uniquely Austin, I'd second AmySue's suggestion of Driskill Grill. Chef David Bull was recently on an episode of Iron Chef, and is the focus of much local buzz. Here are excerpts from a recent review: "Executive Chef David Bull, named 'Best New Chef' of 2003 by Food & Wine magazine, and his Chef de Cuisine Josh Watkins are masters of presentation and blended flavors and texture. They create a new menu every day based on market availability. Start with Potato Gnocchi with shredded oxtail or the Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras, enjoy a well-seasoned Beef Tartare with fried oysters for your second course, and move on to the main course of Coriander Spiced Ahi Tuna, Striped Black Bass, or Duo of Colorado Lamb. Cap the evening with a Molten Chocolate Cake or Cinnamon Chocolate Pot de Crème. If you can't make up your mind, Chef Bull's Tasting Menu paired with wines is well worth the $165 per person."

              Or Fonda San Miquel. A beautiful restaurant specializing in the authentic cuisine of Mexico (not TexMex), Fonda San Miguel has earned its nationwide reputation. Diana Kennedy was instrumental in its conception.

              Again, though, depends upon where you're coming from. If you're coming from a city that boasts its own flock of cutting-edge celeb chefs, I'd suggest you stick with Fonda San Miguel. You're not going to find anything like it elsewhere in the US.

              Although you did say "Saturday night only." Perhaps you could do Saturday night at the Driskill, and catch Fonda San Miguel's justifiably famous Sunday Brunch before you leave town.

              2 Replies
                1. re: ChrissieH

                  Fonda San Miguel would also get my vote.

                2. Thanks to all of you for your suggestions. Now that I've been, I screwed up and put my report under a new post instead of putting it on this one as I should have. At any rate, if you are interested, see my post under the heading "Recent Dinner at Driskill Grill - Austin."

                  1. wait a minute folks...

                    let's not forget Aquarelle. It's no question my death row last meal!