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Proper Date Restaurant (w/ husband)

so, we moved here from NYC some time ago and other than making the effort to eat out with the intention of having BBQ or Tex-Mex, we've slowly (mmm, actually rapidly) stopped going out. We are always dissapointed to some extent- the food is ok, the atmosphere leaves something to be desired. I love Austin, so I understand that this is it's own city, but sometimes I want great drinks, and a romantic, interesting atmosphere with some life, when I'm willing to make the effort to break out the lipgloss...

Any thoughts?

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  1. I feel your pain. It's especially hard if you've lived in a big city and have experienced the best of all worlds.

    Have you been to The Driskill? Hudson's on the Bend is supposed to be very nice too, though I haven't been.

    1. What about Zoot, have you been there? It's a quiet atmosphere, old house, white linens. They were in a slump for a while, but have pulled themselves out of it lately.

      Siena's also romantic, but the food isn't memorable.

      1 Reply
      1. re: addlepated

        Zoot is absolutely the best place in town in my opinion!

      2. Well, Austin is not NYC, but give these a try....Vespaio, Aquarelle, Vin Bistro, Mansion at Judge's Hill, yes, Driskill, Hudson's on the Bend, Jeffrey's Restaurant, Shoreline Grill, Starlite....at least one of these should meet your desires...

        1 Reply
        1. re: SLadd

          I agree with this entire list for "upscale dining", and would add Wink, Louie's 106, Mirabelle, and Zoot.

        2. I would consider Fino or Vin for a nice evening out

          1 Reply
          1. re: DavidD

            Go to Uchi with your loved one early (5:30-6 PM) to get some happy hour specials, be sure to get a couple dishes painted with squid ink, get home at a decent hour and magic follows you...

          2. I'm not sure I can understand your delimma, never having lived in NYC and gone to some top notch places, but you live in Austin now and the pickins' are going to be tougher. The absolute best place for a formal type dining experience with an approximation of elegance and charm is the Driskill Hotel. I'm not sure, IMO, that there is a close second unless it would be the Four Seasons. Vespaio is terrifically noisy, although they have a great bar there with great employees. Aquarelle has comparable food to Driskil and Four Seasons, if not better, but no bar, neither does Zoot. Jeffery's is an Austin institution but whether it is up to your criteria for fancy is doubtful. You might consider Uchi for lively atmosphere, fun eating , good drinks, etc., but it,.like most places in Austin is lip gloss optional. While you were in NYC did you ever make it to Per Se?

            1. My fiance and I moved here last fall from NYC as well and have gone through the same issue, I totally know what you mean. That said, we have enjoyed Zoot, eating at the bar at Fino and the sushi bar at Musashino.

              5 Replies
              1. re: potluck

                Maybe "proper" was the wrong description. We aren't necessarily looking for "upscale" so much as interesting, with great food. I was thinking about Fino, maybe Zoot. I'll try them out. We've tried Cafe Josie and Uchi and those are pretty good.

                When in NYC I never made it to Per Se as there are so many restaurants with atmosphere and fantastic food-- and usually very reasonable ($10-20 per entree). I love small, chef-owned restaurants with character. Montreal has a bunch of great places like this too.

                I'm fully in support of providing incentives to lure chefs from others cities to come here! Here that, City of Austin? Think of it- they've worked in great restaurants around the world, are looking for some place inexpensive yet visible to set up shop, good local produce...just a thought ;)

                Oh, and we stayed in again. The man made a killer bourbon steak, spinach salad and the best pomegranate-mint martinis.

                1. re: ChristineR

                  Whenever we go to NY we stay at a small hotel called Inn on 23rd in the Chelsea district. We usually eat at least one at the Red Cat, just down the street. Good food at a reasonable price but very crowded and loud. Last time we were there we ate at the Spotted Pig and I keep running across articles about that place. Thing to remember, Food and Wine magazine as picked 4 Texas chefs among there top 10 of the year and 3 of them are in Austin. We have CIA chefs out the kazoo. This is a great town for eating considering it is in the middle of Texas. You know there is a restuarant in Marble Falls, (I think) that is called something like Cafe 409 or something like that. You might consider that. I haven't been there but would be interested in hearing what someone other than a professional food critic has to say. Bon Appetit. Joe

                  1. re: ChristineR

                    SF expat here, relatives and lots of time in NYC - just want to say I feel your pain too, and the problem is just as you state...there is some decent "fine dining" here, but we lack a range of solid middle priced great food places. Enoteca Vespaio comes closest enough for me to frequent with a good ratio of success. Sunflower and Le Soleil, although both located in strip malls, have really great food. I haven't been yet, but La Traviata is on my list. Habana usually does the trick too. I had bad luck at Wink and Zoot (although Zoot wasn't bad enough to earn a CH rant), Fino was lackluster and unmemorable...I used to plan my trips to Austin based on the music club listings and festivals, and hit 3 or 4 a day...now that is how I plan my trips back to SF, only with restaurants, food markets and festivals. And I also cook a LOT more at home!

                    1. re: saticoy

                      What I want to know is why Enoteca Vespaio doesn't serve breakfast. Austin has a serious shortage of breakfast places. There's always a horrendous wait if you want to go out on weekend mornings. I was in Auckland not too long ago, and there was at least one little breakfast cafe in every block. It was great. Enoteca seems like it would be awesome for breakfast, but no luck.

                      1. re: karrieleague

                        Don't they do a Sunday Brunch? Or are you saying that brunch doesn't qualify as a breakfast?