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What I Ate: September 22, 2009 (Aquarelle)

Posted 22 September, 2009 at 10:11pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food, What I Ate)

Dinner: We headed off to Aquarelle (606 Rio Grande St, Austin, TX‎ - (512) 479-8117‎) for our second to last Austin Restaurant Week dinner.

After ordering, we received an amuse bouche of broccoli something or other. I would know what it was called if the waiter who dropped it off hadn't mumbled the name while walking away from us. (Our server was great - reseating us and adjusting the thermostat when we found the room too cold.) I think it was a broccoli mousse. It was made with broccoli, cream, salt, and a touch of truffle oil. We didn't much like the taste or consistency (Tina's was a bit wet - like there was water on it or something).
Aquarelle - Amuse Bouche

The bread at Aquarelle needs a mention. It's a plain homemade roll, but it's delicious. The crust is a bit softer than I prefer, but the chew of the crumb is just right (chewy but not gummy) and it has the great flavor of simple artisan bread. I must have eaten three or four rolls. Good bread should not be taken for granted and when I tasted Aquarelle's I just wanted to eat as much of it as I possibly could.
Aquarelle - Bread

Wild Burgundy Escargot tomato concasse, herbs de provence cream, persillade brochette These were the most exquisite escargot that's I've had - they were incredibly tender and tasted buttery with a strong, pleasant wine flavor. Incredible.
Aquarelle - Wild Burgundy Escargot

Marinated Raw Beet Salad animal farm's arrugula, pure luck goats cheese vinaigrette The raw beets were crunchy (like raw carrots) but really flavorful in their marinade. The white sauce - a creamy goat's cheese dressing - was excellent and a nice change from the typical crumbled (more like mushed and torn) pieces of goat's cheese. Also excellent.
Aquarelle - Marinated Raw Beet Salad

Napolean of Quail Breast celery root puree, wilted spinach, shitake mushrooms, sage butter It's easy to overcook quail (especially the breast meat) and, unfortunately, that's exactly what happened here. Even though the breasts were a bit chewy, the texture of the shiitake mushrooms and flavorful sage butter made up for it. A well designed dish with complimentary flavors - but unfortunately, not executed well enough.
Aquarelle - Napolean of Quail Breast

Pan Roasted Lamb Chops mint gnocchi, spicy melting onions, swiss char, lamb jus These were the most incredibly tender lamb chops I've ever had (as far as I can remember). They weren't as flavorful as the herb crusted lamb we had last week at The Driskill Grill, but the flavor was still quite good. We did found the mint gnocchi to be a little overcooked (they were a tad mushy). Otherwise, the dish was very good.
Aquarelle - Pan Roasted Lamb Chops

Profiteroles strawberry ice cream, chocolate sauce I don't really know what to say about this… a creme brulee arrived instead and when I mentioned the error, it was whisked away and the profiteroles brought rather quickly. (Throughout our dinner we had long waits between each course - 15 minutes between amuse and appetizers, about 25 minutes between appetizer and mains, and 15 minutes between mains and dessert - so two minutes between sending the creme away and receiving the profiterole was a bit quick.) I found the dessert to be fairly nasty. The choux pastry was grainy and tasted a little of cardboard. It really didn't taste good. The strawberry ice cream was almost frozen solid - very icy. I really couldn't break off a piece. Tina did a good job breaking it apart by jabbing quickly at it with her spoon and pulling back so she wouldn't slam into the plate. I mentioned that she was using martial arts techniques to break the ice cream apart and she said, "You shouldn't need kung fu in order to eat dessert". The other problem with the ice cream was that it was barely strawberry flavored. It might have been too cold for the full flavor to come through - the too cold ice cream may have been caused by rapid assembly of the dessert (since I sent back the creme brulee - which actually looked really good, but wasn't what I ordered) and maybe the dessert was supposed to rest for a bit before being sent out to us.
Aquarelle - Profiteroles

Duo of Chocolate Mousse vanilla genoise, dark and white chocolate mousse, creme anglaise This dessert was very light with not quite enough chocolate flavor. Otherwise it was quite nice and anyone who favors a lightly sweet dessert should enjoy this.
Aquarelle - Duo of Chocolate Mousse

Overall, we liked Aquarelle, but the evening wasn't without execution issues.

Lunch: Tina set out to cook Pad Thai, but as she followed the recipe she was testing she realized it was going terribly wrong. She quickly adapted and managed to make something out of it to eat that wasn't too bad.

2 comments to What I Ate: September 22, 2009 (Aquarelle)

ironjack, September 23rd, 2009 at 7:23 am:

  • Great Post Michael, I've been meaning to try out Aquarella

What I Ate: December 24, 2009 (Aquarelle) | Orthogonal Thought, December 24th, 2009 at 10:08 pm:

  • […] Street, Austin, TX‎ - (512) 479-8117‎) which was in start contrast with our first meal at Aquarelle (during Austin Restaurant Week). The main reason I wanted to go back was the delicious but simple […]