Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Bess Bistro in Austin

The Engineer and I just spent a day in Austin, to go see my favourite band. The show was awesome and well worth the trip, but as long as we were there, we decided to do a few other things as well: go to Ikea (where I’m happy to report that I kept the bill under $30, thankyouverymuch) and have an early dinner at Bess Bistro, Sandra Bullock’s restaurant. What a great dinner we had!

Bess Bistro is the kind of restaurant I would open if I ever went into the business. A beautiful place that is sophisticated without being uptight. Dress code: “Just make an effort.” The restaurant, in a semi-basement, has a homey vintage feel, with tables built of reclaimed wood and crystal chandeliers above recessed booths. The bathrooms have a beautiful retro chic appearance, too. (And take-out containers are made of potato starch, so they are biodegradable – I just love the effort made to be greener.) The menu itself is great; there’s a lot of variety and dishes that feel both upscale and homey, with a very reasonable price tag. I had the lamb shepherd’s pie, served with a little cheese gratinéed on top – absolutely delicious. So good that I didn’t even regret breaking my rule about eating baby animals. It was served with a mixed greens salad and balsamic vinaigrette. The Engineer had the chicken pot pie, which he liked (though he feels pot pies in general tend to be a bit ho-hum). There were many other items that appealed to me on the menu, though, like the herb salad (“mixed greens tossed with fresh herbs, raspberry vinaigrette, walnuts, Parmesan and fresh berries”), the tuna tartare or the Wagyu burger. The dessert menu also had a lot of variety (I’ve become more sensitive to this in recent years, because some restaurants end up with a dessert menu that is exclusively dairy). We shared the beignets for dessert, with a berry sauce and a bittersweet chocolate sauce. They were to die for! Still piping hot and covered in powdered sugar, and the dough had the perfect texture.

It’s too bad we live in San Antonio, because I’d love to go there again and I just don’t know when we’ll have the opportunity. But definitely keep that place in mind if you’re in Austin!

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