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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Fork in the Road: Lambert's (Austin, TX)

Some folks want 'fancy' BBQ, others don't.  My thought is why mess with something that isn't meant to be fancy.  Barbecue isn't meant to be fancy, elegant or any variation of the word; yet, for some reason, Austinites love Lambert's 'Fancy' BBQ, a love affair I do not understand. 

First off, it is chalk-full of extremely loud fraternity and sorority kids milling about (to be expected) and while the live music at night is a nice (free) addition, the guy running the soundboard clearly doesn't know his craft.  The scene upstairs was far too ear-splitting in which to dine.

Moving onto the food. 

I liked the composition of the deconstructed salad, from taste to colors.  The royal purple beet juice bled into the horseradish creme fraiche, dressed with only a few pieces of celery heart and covered with tiny flecks of Parmesan.

The brisket I was less impressed with.  Almost dry-to-the-bone with the pickled vegetables being the only accoutrement to save the dish.

Steamed broccoli with onions and garlic - Good
Brussel sprouts in brown butter (and always a hit with bacon) - Great

 Sauteed lemon spinach - Excellent
 The verdant colors of the side vegetables just make you want to eat healthy.  Every single one was tasty.  Thanks to my brother for suggesting these. 

The winner of the evening was cold smoked Lockhart quail, Mexican rice stuffing, cheese enchiladas, fried quail eggs and ranchero sauce.  Wooooweeeeee!  Just look at it.  Hearty, no?  By the way, Forkers, cold-smoked does not mean the dish is cold.  It is simply the process of smoking the meat in temperatures not to exceed 100*F.  I've never seen a hunk of quail as big as this before, nor prepared as well. 

Two disappointing dishes:

After seeing Green Chili Queso on the menu, it was the entire reason to try Lambert's.  What a disappointment.  It may seem silly to some, but this girl knows her queso.  There would have been more green chilis had a can of Rotel been added and it would have definitely thinned it out a bit.  Thick queso on thick chips is gross!

I like to see how restaurants specializing in meat dishes will execute the lone, or two, seafood dishes. In this case, the Gulf fish in an artichoke/crab/tomato barigoule was plated well, but lacked any flair. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Fork in the Road: Perla's (Austin, TX)

Located on South Congress, Perla's is a seafood restaurant with a steady following.  Perla's has a lovely white-washed nautical interior completed with netting, fish tanks and blue & white stripes.  I actually felt like I was dining somewhere in Cape Cod or the Hamptons. 

This was a large group dinner, but I honestly couldn't snap photos as fast as the food was going in my mouth.  What a shame I didn't get the other dishes!  My dishes, naturally, are the only photos I got.

Roasted beets, Cambozola cheese, pumpernickel croutons, mâche, and Aquavit honey.  It was beautiful arrangement on my plate; I don't think I've an enjoyed a beet salad nearly as much as this one.  It almost sounds like too many ingredients, but alas, it was not!

Thank you to my friend, Maria, who suggested (or better yet, told me) I order the Oak grilled Gulf Redfish on the Halfshell.  YUM! YUM! YUM!  What halfshell means is grilling on the skin-side without having to flip the fish.  This allows the oils to cook into the fish and it won't dry out.  You don't even need the sauces they serve to accompany it.  It is one serious fish.

Light and Luxurious Gingered Semifreddo - There is a reason this is at the top of the dessert menu.  I didn't have a bite of anything else, but I am sure nothing could have topped this.  Again, another dish with what sounds like many ingredients, was not.  This was a cold semifreddo served with olive oil cake, plum sake sorbet, pink peppercorn crisp and Greek yogurt underneath.  Be still my heart!

One awesome addition:  Our waitress was an English major and I've never heard better descriptions of menu items....ever.