Had one of the most interesting dinners in a while at STEM, a new place located inside one of the biotech incubator buildings on Illinois in Mission Bay. They've only been open since November and our visit wasn't without issue, but overall if you're interested enough to read this board, you should go.
We started with a genever-based cocktail called liquid gold. It had an apple shrub and an herb gastrique, which was quite nice, but felt a bit heavy after a few minutes. I lightened mine up with sparkling water and it was perfect. It was quite beautiful, too, with an edible flower garnish.
The starter was an interesting burrata dish with grilled green onion and red cabbage. I think of fresh basil and tomatoes with burrata, but here they went with dark flavors. The grilled cabbage had a distinct "gas grill" flavor which was weird but not unpleasant, dressed with a light vinaigrette.
After that was a tri-tip with a very chunky salsa verde, which actually had more of a chimichurri flavor, green and garlicky. This came with well-caramelized roasted potatoes that I used to mop up the remaining salsa.
I finished with an olive oil cake with mandarin and Chantilly cream and my companion had a meyer lemon pot de creme-like dessert.
The theme is clearly garden - fresh, with everything on the menu incorporating something from the on-site garden. All the dishes were presented beautifully and the service was really attentive, if a bit uncoordinated. I think that might have had something to do with the newness and maybe the fact that we were one of three tables there at 7:30.
To get there, you have to enter a very professional - looking office building and go up to the second floor, but definitely worth going in before they get crowded. This place will have a distinct following if it stays as good as it was tonight and works out the minor service kinks.
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