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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

May Travels Continue... Austin~

May continues on with more traveling. This time we stayed closer to home. We went down to Austin over Memorial Day weekend.

First night there we decided to go try out Green Mesquite:
1400 Barton Springs Road
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 479-0485
Price: $

It was featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives…a show that I LOVE! The food always looks soooooo good on the show! Austin has more local/hole-in-the-wall places unlike Dallas. The Green Mesquite was very casual and had a nice area for outdoor seating with a live band playing.

We ordered a Pork Rib Plate (1/2lb. of Mesquite Smoked Pork Ribs and French Fries, Pinto Beans) $7.99~. It was special of the day so it was $6.99~ The ribs were nice and flavorful, probably the best meat dish of the night. The sides were average.
Next is the 2 Meat Plate (Brisket, Smoked Sausage and Coleslaw, Onion Rings) $8.99~ The brisket was quite dry, I had to put on a lot of their house BBQ sauce (which was pretty awesome, by the way). I’m not a big smoked sausage fan, and it wasn’t too spectacular to make me want to eat more. The onion rings were really good…could’ve been a little more crispy but the flavor was great.

We also had the 3 Meat Plate (3 meats of your choice & 2 sides: Chicken, Pork Ribs, Brisket and Coleslaw, Onion Rings) $9.99~ The chicken was quite good, very tender and flavorful.
I ordered the Veggie Plate (4 veggies of your choice: Green Beans, Potato Salad, Corn on the Cob, Cajun Rice) $4.59~ There was wayyy too much meat so I thought I’d get some veggies. The best thing on this dish was the potato salad but it still doesn’t compare to Red Hot and Blue’s potato salad (which is my FAV!). The rice was ok, the corn was ok (could’ve used some more seasoning), and the green beans were soggy.

Overall, I wasn’t impressed, I thought to be featured in a BBQ episode on the Food Network the food must be pretty awesome. It was decent... I would go back again for the setting, but probably not for the food.

Quality of Food: 3
Service: 3
Cleanliness: 3
Value: 3.5
Overall Experience: 4

The next day we went to Chez Zee:
5406 Balcones Drive
Austin, TX 78731-4906
(512) 454-2666
Price: $$

Almost everyone we talked to about places to go to eat had mentioned Chez Zee at one point or another. We went around 1pm or so but they were still doing their brunch menu. The place is very eclectic, I liked the feel of the place very much…a lot of character.

After we ordered, the waitress brought us some Warm Croissants with Strawberry butter. The croissants were still warm and buttery and flaky. The strawberry butter was definitely new to me…what a great idea! If you want to make it yourself, it’s basically butter and strawberry jam mixed together.

We ordered the Commodore Sausage Benedict (Grilled Sausage, toasted English muffin, spinach, poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce; served with country potatoes) $11.95~ and the Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing (fresh spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes, diced bacon, sliced mushrooms, seedless cucumbers, red onion rings, feta cheese, candied walnuts, and toast herb croutons with warm bacon dressing on the side) $10.95~ The eggs benedict was pretty good and went really well with the country potatoes. I liked the dish but I didn’t think it was worth the price. The spinach salad was really good. It had plenty of toppings and was totally fresh. You can’t go wrong with the combination of spinach, tomato, onion, bacon, candied nuts and feta. They also put in cucumbers and mushrooms which I thought made great additions to an already great salad. :)

Chez Zee is also known for their cakes and desserts so of course we had to try something. We ordered Maida’s Cake (Light flourless chocolate cake filled with sweet vanilla cream and generously frosted with a fluffy mocha mousse) $5.95~ We had more places to try later that day so we thought we’d keep it light. The cake was ok… I’m not a fan of just mousse…I like cakes to have more denseness and texture. The layers of mousse and cream were just too close in texture so there wasn’t any contrast to make the cake interesting. It was still a good cake, but just not my style. If you like mousse, then I would recommend you try it.

Quality of Food: 4
Service: 4
Cleanliness: 4
Value: 3.5
Overall Experience: 4.5

Next is Mozart’s!!
Mozart's Coffee Roasters
3825 Lake Austin Blvd
Austin, Texas 78703
(512) 477-2900
Price: $

You cannot go to Austin and not pay a visit to Mozart’s café. It’s located right on Lake Austin where you can sit outside and watch the boats in the water. They sell their own coffee blends and have a huge selection of cakes and pastries. Everything looked soooo good!
Since the cake from lunch was kinda disappointing, I decided to order another cake. I got the Chocolate Decadence Cake (decadent chocolate layer cake with a rich and creamy chocolate frosting) $5.75~
Now this is the kind of cake I like! I like a denser cake, and all chocolate is another plus! The cake was super moist and, of course, chocolatey. It was a great dessert with some tea and coffee and to just sit back, relax, and savor!

Quality of Food: 4.5
Service: 4
Cleanliness: 3.5
Value: 3.5
Overall Experience: 4.5

For dinner, my sister recommended Malaga Tapas & Bar:
440 W 2nd St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 236-8020
Price: $-$$

It was a pretty hip place packed with people. However, they forgot our order so we waited a really long time for our food.
While we were waiting, they gave us some Herb bread with olive oil – free~ The bread was quite good. Lots of herbs and flavor.
Finally the food came. It comes on this cute little carrier.
We ordered the Tortilla Catalana (The catalan version of the traditional Spanish tortilla, baked with potatoes, onions, eggs, and piquillo peppers Drizzled with garlic aioli and Romesco Sauce, and topped with shredded Iberico cheese) $8.50~, Albondigas en Salsa de Tomate (Six baked beef and pork meatballs bathed in a cumin-coriander spiced tomato sauce, and topped with three month old Iberico cheese and chopped parsley. Served with freshly baked herb bread) $8.75~, Empanadas Salamanca (Two freshly baked spinach turnovers with Mahon cheese, garlic, shallots, and mushrooms filling. Served with a side of spicy tomato sauce and grilled peppers, and topped with roasted garlic-herb aioli) $7.50~ (. Add up to 2 extra empanadas for $1.50 each). We also got the Pincho Moruno (Pork bites marinated in olive oil infused with Moorish spices, cumin, red pepper, garlic, parsley and fresh lemon juice. Served with freshly baked pita bread) $8.50~

Starting from the top, the Tortilla was one of my favorites out of the 4. It was full of flavor and different textures. The aioli was awesome on top of it all. The meatballs were moist, flavorful, and cheesy. The bread was really good dipped in the sauce of the meatballs. The empanadas were pretty good. I would’ve liked the crust to be thinner and flakier but that’s the only negative thing I have to say. The flavors were great! My other favorite was the pork bites. They were super tender and lots of flavor. The pita bread could’ve been softer but that’s not important. I could eat those pork bites all day.

The food was definitely delicious and I guess it was worth the wait. Plus they took the most expensive item off our bill so it was definitely worth the money! :P

Quality of Food: 4.5
Service: 3
Cleanliness: 4
Value (after the discount): 4
Overall Experience: 4

The last day we went to Zen for lunch:
1303 South Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78704-2432
(512) 444-8081
Price: $

It’s a cheap and healthy choice for some Asian fusion food. They use fresh and healthy ingredients in a fast, order at the counter restaurant.

We got the Side Salad (Romaine lettuce, julienne carrots and red cabbage served with our homemade ginger dressing) $0.90~ and Seaweed Salad (Wakame, green onion and cucumber marinated in our sesame sambal vinaigrette) $1.49~ We actually could’ve done without these 2 because we had enough food just with our entrees. The salads were ok…not too special.
For the main entrees we got the Spicy Shrimp Bowl (Regular Bowl - Black tiger shrimp sautéed with white onion, broccoli and green onion batons in spicy sauce) $5.85~ and Dynamite Chicken (Regular Bowl – Udon noodles sautéed with fiery dynamite sauce with crimini mushrooms, broccoli, red bell peppers, seared chicken and crisp carrots) $4.95~. The bowls were pretty big…I can’t imagine ordering the large size. The spicy shrimp bowl was quite good. It’s definitely not authentic Asian flavors but it was still tasty. The shrimp was cooked nicely with lots of flavor. It wasn’t spicy though. It had lots of shrimp and veggies in the bowl…it definitely felt like we were eating healthier! The noodles were not as good. It still had lots of chicken and veggies but the noodle was overcooked and a little too soft. And if you wanna call something ‘dynamite’ then I need to feel that kick….there was none. :(

Overall the flavors were not bad…but I would definitely go back because of the health factor and the low prices.

Quality of Food: 4
Service: 3.5
Cleanliness: 3
Value: 4
Overall Experience: 4

Finally this post is coming to an end…but not without a BANG!! I cannot go to Austin without going to Hey Cupcake!
1600 South Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 476-2253
Price: $

It is my all time FAVORITE cupcake place EVER!!! They operate out of a mobile home with really friendly workers. I haven’t tried all of their flavors yet but one day I definitely will. This time we got my favorite kind of cupcakes: Red Velvet with cream cheese frosting and red sugar sprinkles and also the Chocolate with Chocolate buttercream icing and chocolate sprinkles. Each $2.50~
Red velvet is my cupcake flavor of choice but the chocolate buttercream definitely gave it its run for the money. Both cupcakes were super moist with AMAZING frosting. The cream cheese frosting on the red velvet was just as good as I remembered from the first time. The chocolate buttercream frosting was DIVINE!! Soooo creamy and chocolaty on top of the moist chocolate cupcake... O.M.G….I wanted to get another one and stuff it in my mouth!!!

If you ever go to Austin, definitely check out Hey Cupcake!…you won’t be disappointed!!! :D

Quality of Food: 5
Service: 5
Cleanliness: n/a
Value: 3.5
Overall Experience: 5


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