Anniversary dinner in Austin
My wife and I will be in Austin for our anniversary. I wanted to see if I could get some restaurant recommendations. We are currently considering Jeffrey's, the Driskill Grill, and Aquarelle, but are open to any suggestions. Thanks.
There is a wide consensus that Jeffrey's is very overrated. I haven't been myself so I can't say for sure.
Both Aquarelle and Driskill are excellent choices. Driskill is pricier and does more "experimental" dishes. They also have seven and nine course tasting menus. Driskill is in a very ornate Victorian hotel while Aquarelle is in an old converted house.
Other "romantic" places to consider are Siena (Tuscan Italian) and Hudson's on the Bend (wild game).
It really depends on your taste and what you're looking for but I would go for Driskill. It's my favorite restaurant in the city.
re: Kent Wang
I would agree with the comment that Jeffrey's is overrated. My husband & I actually tried it twice thinking that we might have gone on an off night. The food is not bad, it just is not anything special.
As for the other restaurants, Siena definitely has a romantic setting and the food is pretty good Italian. Also, we just ate at Cafe 909 last weekend, and really enjoyed the food. It is a typical restaurant atmosphere, though, so if you are looking for something extra romantic in setting this will not fit the bill.
For just hands down great food, we love Wink. Again, the setting is just typical, but the food (particularly the tasting menus) is outstanding.
Thanks for your thoughts on Cafe 909. You've whetted my appetite. And I appreciate your comments about Jeffrey's. Between you and Brent, that's one positive and one negative review by people who've recently tried it. Hopefully more people will post specifics about their experiences there. I promise to do so when I get around to checking their food out for myself.
Just to make things complicated, though, I think Wink is overrated!
If I were in your position, I'd go to Hudson's on the Bend (great food and location), Cafe 909 in Marble Falls (a "rustic gourmet" place I've been wanting to try), or Backstage Steakhouse in Spicewood (also kind of rustic, with excellent food and wine). These are all located west of town, though, and not in central Austin.
If your anniversary falls on a weekend and you are flexible on the dinner part, the brunch at Fonda San Miguel is still extraordinary.
I haven't been to Jeffrey's, so I'll refrain from commenting on it except to say that I am unaware of a "wide consensus" on its merits. Some like it; some don't. I've had boring and/or bad dishes off the dinner menu at both Aquarelle and the Driskill Grill. But, there was enough of interest to make me want to go back. I believe all three places you mentioned have their menus posted online.
Please be sure to tell us about your experience!
Unlike the other posters I have been to Jeffrey's many times. It is excellent and would be a very romantic spot for your anniversary. Your other choices are also well chosen. I believe Vespaio is now the best restaurant in Austin but it definitely isn't quiet and doesn't take reservations. I would opt for Jeffrey's for a special occasion.
The crispy oysters on yucca chips with some sort of jalepeno or habenero aioli is surely one of the primo dishes in Austin (and in Texas for that matter). The game, especially venison, is always a tasty special and the seafood dishes have always been good, too. Anyone who plans to visit Austin for several days or who plans on living there must, in my opinion, give Jeffrey's a try. It is an institution now and rightly so.
I lived in Austin for three years and am anxious to get back. The food scene has definitely changed since I've been away. Jeffrey's is the only place I have been among the restaurants that have been discussed, but I went six years ago and I believe the executive chef has changed since then. For what it's worth, I thought the food was very good, but not exceptional or particularly exciting. I included it mostly for the atmosphere, although on an everyday basis I would focus more on the food.
Based on everyone's comments, I think we are going to give Cafe 909 one of the nights we're in Austin. For our actual "anniversary dinner," I think I'm leaning toward the Driskill, but I'm sure I'll change my mind several times between now and then. I also already have brunch reservations at Fonda San Miguel. I am probably looking the most forward to FSM, as I have never been (other than a few aborted attempts as a walk-in), despite the fact that it was supposedly one of the best places in Austin when I lived there. I hope it is still as good as it used to be. In any event, I will report back for those who are interested.
My girlfriend and I at at Jeffrey's about a year ago and were favorably impressed. I can't remember what we had (although it was meat since I know we had red burgundy), but it was very nicely done. Service was very professional, too. I haven't eaten at Aquarelle in about two years, but I would think that would be an excellent choice for an aniversary, too. Very private and quiet. Excellent service, etc. I can't recall about the selections on half bottles, but I could certainly see starting off with a half bottle of a rose Champagne -- preferably Billecart-Salmon, if we're going the non-vintage route -- and then moving on to a nice dinner wine, etc. Aquarelle seems the most anniversary like place to me, and the one most likely to work with special requests.
re: Mike C. Miller
would deserve consideration. That stuff has been very hard to find as of late. We have a bottle of last year's NV, but I'm trying to hold onto it for a little while. I was thinking of paying corkage on a bottle of 96' Duval-Leroy Femme I picked up, so good Champagne is definitely going to be consumed.
You mentioned red Burgundy at Jeffrey's. Was their list balanced enough to include good, but moderately priced Burgundy's? Also, do you know if they had anything older than the recent 2002's and 2003's? There does not appear to be much wine information on Jeffrey's website. Sorry for all the questions, but you nailed our choice of wines, and I put as much stock in a well thought-out wine list as an attractive menu.
On a related note, does anyone know if the wine pairings at the Driskill are up to snuff?
re: Stephen Fortson
Not sure that I can help too much as I've only been one time. My recollection on the list was that it was more California centric with only a fair selection of French wines.
But what I do remember wasn't bad. Seems like they did have some youngish Verget whites. The reds, I don't recall as well, but I certainly think I would remember any real presence of pre-2002 (and certainly any pre-1999) red Burgs from good producers in any substantial number. Unfortunately, I have no such recollection.
Service was good, however. I'll bet if you call at a non-peak time, I'd suggest 4:30 or 5:00 p.m., they'll fax or e-mail you a copy of the current list. Especially if you tell them wine is a deciding critiera for an anniversary dinner.