I did a quick search and realized that there were no threads devoted specifically to Starlite, so I decided to start one based on my wonderful experience last night.
We arrived just after 7 and the restaurant was about 1/3 full. Right off the bat, the hostess impressed me. Rather than the snooty, stare down the nose, "Do you have a reservation?", she simply asked if it was just the two of us and then took us to a nice table along the left banquette. (And, having hostessed in fine dining here in Austin, I can say she was very good at her job...making me as a guest feel welcome. Also, the banquette was nicely arranged and they didn't try to shove too many tables in. I never felt like other customers were "in my lap" or eavesdropping.)
After a quick scan of the menu (I was prepared as I looked online earlier in the day), our server stopped by, a nice young woman with a pleasant attitude (not too friendly, not too stiff). She took our drink order and then went to the bar while we decided on the rest of the meal. Before the first course arrived we were offered an Amuse of very soft baguette topped with American Sturgeon Caviar and chives along with dots of nice olive oil on the plate. While caviar is always tasty, I found the amuse a bit uninspired. Tasty yes, but inventive...no. Plus the amount of caviar was minute.
I started with the Salad of Roasted Organic Red and Gold Beets with a glass of the Berger Gruner Veltliner. The salad consisted of thinly sliced beet medallions, pieces of cabrales blue cheese, marcona almond, a smattering of micro greens and kumquat preserves dotted around the plate. The beets were not super sweet but nicely prepared and served room temperature. The blue cheese and almonds made an interesting contrast. The greens were a nice addition, and the kumquat preserves were amazing, almost candied but tart. The SO started with their Starlite Highball (some combo of gin, soda and something citrusy...with a pale orange color, which he enjoyed, but I avoided as I'm not big on gin) and the Fried Green Tomato Salad. I didn't try it, he had eaten all the tomatos before I had the chance, but it came with a lime and cucumber salad (which he didn't care for) and a nice aioli (which he enjoyed but thought too much was provided). All in all a good start.
As we were waiting for our entrees we realized that our server seemed to be the only one in the house. A younger man was delivering food along with what appeared to be the manager. But, our server was holding down the fort (at one time an 8-top in the middle of the floor along with 5 or 6 2-tops, and maybe 3 4-tops). She was trying to give ample service and was good about checking back at the right times, even if she was running a bit. When at tableside she never let this workload affect her demeanor and took time to answer questions or make wine suggestions.
Entrees arrived shortly after. I had the duck breast. At first glance I was a little worried as it appeared medium to medium well. But, one bite revealed a tender and delicious breast regardless of cook time. It was served with a rhubarb and pomegranate glaze/sauce swirled around the plate, and atop a salsify puree topped with thinly sliced grapes and tiny morsels of foie gras. The grapes were interesting and lovely. The foie was nice but very very subtle....so much so that I forgot it was foie until looking at the menu again this morning. The puree was divine. On the side was a small helping of sauteed spinach with garlic. A nice addition. I complimented this with a glass of Rioja.
Again, I didn't taste the SO's dish....he's a quick eater and he had largely finished before I thought to ask. He had the Wild Alaskan Halibut which was grilled and topped with what appeared to be either carmelized onions or a jam. It was served on top of grits and had broccolini on the side. He loved the fish and grits but the broccolini was too much (literally 7-8 stalks) and not one of his favorites...a little undercooked (sauteed....might be better steamed?).
By this time I was getting full, but I never let dessert pass me by. A quick glance of the offered menus and I decided on the Lavender Scented Panna Cotta. I asked the server if she might suggest a dessert wine to go with this. After giggling a bit she went on to describe a Moscato that she thought was out of this world. Blushing, she revealed that their sommelier referred to it as the "panty dropper." I was amused by her humor and decided why not. However, I was dissapointed shortly after as she came back to report that none was chilled. So, she suggested a nice rose sparkling. The SO ordered the banana cake.
The panna cotta was divine. Nice, custardy with a pronounced lavender flavor (it took me back to a trio of creme brulees that I used to love at Demi Epicurious). The poached pear on the side was very tasty but hard to eat with a spoon. There was also a strawberry rhubarb coulis that was tasty, although the honey tuille from the menu description was no where to be found...I think they substituted a fresh strawberry on top.
By this point, three healthy servigs of wine later, I forgot to check out the banana cake, but I'm sure it was excellent, as nothing was left on his plate.
All in all a wonderful evening. Excellent food in a beautiful space. I was impressed with the acoustics as well. It seemed that although there were tall ceilings and little buffering in terms of construc. materials, I was still able to easily talk thourhgout the meal, even when the restaurant was maybe 2/3 full. The tiffany blue paint job mixed with brick and warm wood along with the giant central chandelier made for a romantic setting. I'd only been here once before, but will definitely place it on top of the list for a special meal in the future.
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