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Olivia, La Condesa, Parkside , Aquarelle and Wink - have five reservations and can only keep two

v
vis Apr 13, 2010 03:37 PM

I went a little crazy and reserved five places for two dinners and need to whittle it down.
First - a little about my group. Four or five college friends (1 from Austin, 1 from Hawaii, 1 from DC and 2 from California) meeting in the middle to catch up over drinks...likely many drinks. We're all married w/ kids...except one vigilante who may never settle down. We're all in our mid and late 30's so we figure we might as well have some good food while we're at it.

All these places were recommended and I don't know which way to go. We obviously aren't looking for "intimate" or "romantic" but a decent scene/vibe would be fun. We'll be well-dressed...but in jeans (no holes in our jeans). Two of the guys decided to go veggie on us a couple of years ago so I'm working under those constraints (one of them eats fish I think) - so a pure steakhouse is likely out.

Any help is appreciated - I just saw a topic on Wink vs. Parkside and I'm trying not to hijack it - since I'm choosing between a few more places I decided to start my own thread. I promise to report back.

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La Condesa
400-A W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

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  1. p
    pwang RE: vis Apr 13, 2010 03:48 PM

    La Condesa: Haven't been, so can't say.

    Olivia: No. The last (and, to be fair, the only) time I went, two people in our party of 8 or so didn't finish their entrées. I had a steak or some such that was good but not on par with Austin Land & Cattle or Ruth's Chris.

    Parkside: Good, rather seafood-centric. Don't know how good the veggie options are if they don't eat seafood. Additionally, I the Californians might (and the Hawaiian definitely) will be able to get comparable or better seafood in their native areas. (Parkside's oysters are very good, though.)

    Aquarelle & Wink are two of my favorite restaurants in town, and they always have great vegetarian options. If I were in your shoes I'd go to these, on account of the veggie constraint and also because I've never had a bad meal there, the waitstaff has always been great.

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    La Condesa
    400-A W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

    1 Reply
    1. re: pwang
      i
      italyvespa RE: pwang Apr 13, 2010 03:52 PM

      Interesting because I've had a few great experiences at Olivia. But I can't say I'm a regular so I can't speak to their food on a regular basis.

    2. i
      italyvespa RE: vis Apr 13, 2010 03:59 PM

      I like Olivia. Seems like a great atmosphere for what you're looking for. The food can be a little eccentric, but you might be expecting that. And I don't know about their vegetarian options.

      Unless you want high pretension like what you would find in Dallas plus high prices for super tiny portion sizes, skip La Contesa. I can't even believe they've lasted this long.

      Parkside is nice and surprisingly hip for being located right on 6th Street, but they have a fairly small menu. Check it out first.

      Aquarelle is a great place, a very nice restaurant, but it seems more like a date place. The last time I was there, a group of friends/couples were there and one man's laugh monopolized the atmosphere. Seems not right for a group of old college buddies.

      Wink is great. It's tiny and they pack people in there, but I'd say that the sound doesn't bounce off the walls like it does at Aquarelle. Good vegetarian options.

      1 Reply
      1. re: italyvespa
        e
        exit53 RE: italyvespa Apr 13, 2010 09:19 PM

        i have to agree with thereman - you've named a handful of the best spots in town, but for the scene/vibe you're looking for, i would also suggest La Condesa and Parkside.

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        La Condesa
        400-A W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

      2. t
        thereman RE: vis Apr 13, 2010 04:33 PM

        La Condesa and Parkside! I have a vegan friend who fell HEAD OVER HEELS for La Condesa after they made him a special vegan platter.

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        La Condesa
        400-A W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

        1. fabulousdrinksaustin RE: vis Apr 14, 2010 04:30 AM

          La Condesa and Aquarelle, no contest! Of coure you can always do progressive as Aquarelle has a wonderful happy hour extended on Saturday nights from 5-7 p.m. in their wine bar. La Condesa does hh as well, but I think just M-F.

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          La Condesa
          400-A W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

          1 Reply
          1. re: fabulousdrinksaustin
            v
            vis RE: fabulousdrinksaustin Apr 14, 2010 02:44 PM

            Thanks everyone - great recommendations. I think we'll keep La Condesa for Friday and likely do Parkside as well. I'll go ahead and cancel the others (all of which sound great). I think Aquarelle is a bit too intimate for us although it seems like the one restaurant everyone raves about on this board. Thanks again! I'll report back.

            I'm looking forward to a weekend in Austin!

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            La Condesa
            400-A W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

          2. m
            mizznicole RE: vis Apr 30, 2010 12:12 PM

            We ate at Aquarelle last year and I was roundly disappointed. The biggest problem was lack of balance in the dishes. Something overpowered something else on every plate. Also, I didn't find the menu that intriguing. I was hoping to find the French classics in Julia Child's book that I'd been learning to cook. It was rather limited.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mizznicole
              v
              vis RE: mizznicole Apr 30, 2010 02:10 PM

              Hi everyone - thanks for all the suggestions and thoughts. We ended up keeping La Condesa and Parkside. We also did a breakfast at Magnolia and one at Enoteca...even tried Amy's Ice Cream. I love the food in Austin and also the general vibe of the town. Really vibrant neighborhoods, friendly people, great bars and restaurants. Don't worry - i won't be another california transplant :)...you already have enough of us.

              We really loved La Condesa - one caveat was that we were 2 margaritas in before the food arrived so I'm sure that made everything taste better. It's on the pricey side but the we found the food to be fresh, well executed and interesting. Probably my least favorite dish was the one I ordered, which was the Fideo Coatzacoalcos....still good but not for the price. everyone loved the Hongos y Huitlacoches.

              Parkside was good as well but for some reason didn't get the same positive response La Condesa did. Everything was fresh and well done but nothing felt necessarily unique. Also, the room seemed like it was missing something - maybe it was too bright or perhaps the space felt too big. i'm having a hard time putting my finger on it. Either way, everyone was happy with the the restaurant and I'll have to try it again and try some of the meat dishes (we only did oysters, seafood and raw bar).

              Magnolia was good - typical popular breakfast spot with big portions and happy service. Everyone was friendly except the guy at the front who looked like he was counting the minutes to get out of there.

              Last spot was Enoteca for brunch - excellent! Very small and simple menu but everything was perfectly prepared. The pancakes were great, the meats were tasty, the eggs benedict perfectly done.

              Places I really want to come back for are La Perla, Wink, Vesapiao.

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              Enoteca
              1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

              La Condesa
              400-A W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

              1. re: vis
                t
                txgrl99 RE: vis May 3, 2010 09:59 AM

                I'm glad you enjoyed your visit and thanks for reporting back!

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