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Jul 16, 2007 10:58 PM

Where to try when you have been most nice places?

My friend and I are going to dinner on Wednesday to celebrate her birthday. We have been to all of the medium fine to fine dining places in Austin and want to go somewhere in that range to celebrate. Who is exceeding your expectations these days? (For example I have had lukewarm feelings about Fino, but had two very good lunches there recently.)

Is there anywhere that you think might be on a streak? I was thinking about giving Wink another shot or maybe Zoot? Any thoughts? Many thanks for your help.

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  1. Recenty, while I was out of town, of course, my son took my wife, his mother, to Three Forks. When I got back my wife raved on and on about them. This is unusual for her since she cooks a lot and we have been to many high end places in Austin. My son said his was the best steak, forgot which one, he has ever eaten of its kind, whatever it was. have you tried it yet. For my part, I am always pleased with Vespaio, but I am sure you are aware of it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: singlemalt

      Try The Belmont on Colorado/4th Street. Awesome atmosphere- great outdoor terrace and a rooftop deck. The food is American (chicken, steaks, salmon), but done a little more upscale. Have taken friends, business associates there and I've been twice in the last 2 months. So far the food has been consistent every time we've been.

      1. re: loolootx

        Because I love classic American film on a Sunday (don't ask), I've dined at the Belmont many more times than it has deserved. I don't know -- maybe eight or nine times overall?

        I've wandered through their dinner menu, and all I can say is (from most expensive and fancypants to cheapest and most humble) nothing is good there.

        Some things are tolerable. Some are even almost good. But nothing -- and I mean NOTHING -- is good at the Belmont.

        I'm willing to bring ammunition. If you have disagreed, name the dish and I'll happily discuss. But I've essentially depleted their menu and found nothing worthwile.

        Disclaimer: this statement does not apply to the entertainment. Both the films and Germ Pollet are great; the frozen margs are (for $4 per) pretty good, too. The staff has always been polite, friendly, and helpful. Only the food is mediocre-or-worse.

    2. Thank you for the suggestions. Vespaio is a possibility - it has been a long time since I have been there. Belmont seems not food-focused enough.

      I guess the question is - if you were going to roll the dice, would you choose Wink, La Traviata, Asti, Fino, Zoot, or Vespaio? I am having a hard time getting really excited about any of them, but am looking for that sort of general atmosphere, food and wine. Maybe Starlite should be on the list - does that deserve another run?

      2 Replies
      1. re: newme

        I went to both Vespaio and Starlite about a month ago for my birthday (Starlite for a dinner date with the SO and Vespaio with friends). Both were excellent. I think the difference for me is ambience. Starlite is the perfect date spot for me (I posted a fairly longish review of the experience at the time) with a quiet hushed dining room that is light and airy. Vespaio is warmer and more suited, for me at least, for good times shared with friends (and a little louder, more hustle and bustle). The food at both though are great.

        1. re: ashes

          I went back and read your report and it was great. (As were the comments!) Starlite definitely on the list.

          Thanks to the chowhounders who do the detailed reports. I should have done that for my recent Fino and La Traviata visits, but now the details are long gone. I will try to do better, as I surely appreciate a good detailed description.

          Thanks ashes!

      2. You didn't say "No Sushi!".

        Therefore, you should choose Uchi.

        If I had to enter my beloved city of Austin in a national competition for "Best Restaurant", Uchi would be my city's candidate.

        Uchi is a modernesque sushi fusion joint that has gone out of its way to hire top-notch sushi chefs; these skilled professionals only add to the menu excellence established by Doctor Tyson, MD PhD, King of Non-Coastal American Sushi.

        If sushi + sushi-fusion can't meet your needs, then Austin's best offerings will be Wink, Vespaio, Backstage Steakhouse (in Spicewood), and Jeffrey's; Din Ho, Driskill, Aquarelle, Zoot, Eastside Cafe, Chez Nous and possibly Mars queue up behind to challenge for consideration. III Forks, Finn & Porter, Starlite, Four Seasons / the Terrace, Mirabelle, Clay Pit, Vin Bistro, Vespaio Enoteca, La Traviata, Fino, Fonda San Miguel, and anything else you're thinking I'm leaving off the list are really close but not quite there (in my opinion, at least).

        1. Try Truluck's if you are into seafood. I'd recommend the alaskan king crab legs. The crab fried rice is also quite delicious, in my opinion.

          Tom mentioned Finn & Porter but left off Truluck's and included in his note "and anything else you're thinking I'm leaving off the list are really close but not quite there (in my opinion, at least)."

          The point is, if he's been to both Truluck's and Finn and Porter and feels Finn and Porter is better, I'd go with his suggestion, because admittedly, I have not tried Finn & Porter yet.