Thursday, March 3, 2011

Apothecary Cafe and Wine Bar

I have a complaint y'all. Sometimes this whole food critic thing can be a really a hard job. I mean, we have to eat at fantastic restaurants and then write about them while our friends happily listen to us brag. Yeah, our job is tough!

All joking aside, this week's review is yet another in the long, luscious litany that the Austin food scene is becoming. We went to Apothecary on Burnet Road, tonight, after Matt had heard of them while at Antonelli's Cheese Shop. This was a great experience, the atmosphere was warm and inviting, the staff excellent and the owner, Niraj Mehdiratta, was nice enough to spend a few minutes chatting about his place with us. It turns out they have been open for about 18 months now, and if this past Tuesday was any indication they'll be around for a good while.

Cheese and Charcuterie Plate
Matt and I each ordered an appetizer and an entree, just to get the flavor of the restaurant.  I ordered my appetizer off their cheese and charcuterie menu, I had the manchego & Spanish chorizo, brie & honey balsamic marinated grapes, as well as the gorgonzola dolce with guava paste. The cheeses here are all from our favorite cheese shop, Antonelli's, and all are paired amazingly well with their accompanying side. Manchego cheese, if you haven't had it, is a Spanish cheese, slightly on the hard side with a mild, nutty flavor. A good way to think of it is like a mild parmigiano reggiano. Spanish chorizo, unlike most of the Mexican breakfast variety you find in Texas, is very mild in flavor and with a texture more like a good, dry salami, this particular one had a nice garlic flavor to it. Brie is one of my favorite cheese, soft and very neutral in flavor, but slightly sweet at the same time and nothing pairs better with brie than grapes, nothing. The grapes on this plate are of the red variety and marinated in a fantastic balsamic honey, which adds a nice tartness and sweetness to the dish, this pairing is like eating the best grape jelly you have ever had, no lie. The only type of cheese I like better than brie is any kind of blue, and this gorgonzola dolce did not disappoint. Milder in flavor than, say, a Stilton or a Shropshire blue this had that nice blue funk without kicking out too many teeth. I will admit that when I saw its pairing I was a tad dubious, I'm really not a guava fan. This pairing though may have been the best thing I ate all night. I found that the sweetness of the guava balanced the bitter of the blue well and the pairing went down incredibly well with the Malbec I was drinking.

Macaroni and Cheese
Matt ordered the prosciutto macaroni and cheese as his appetizer. As you may have read in our review of Big Easy, Matt and I are a bit spoiled when it comes to mac and cheese, being that our mom makes the best this side of anywhere. This particular mac was a very close second to our mom's though, the goat cheese and white truffle oil played incredibly well with the prosciutto and the dish just sang beautifully well. Absolutely in love with this dish.

Minced Pork and Mascarpone Crepe
For dinner I ordered a crepe, oh here it comes, you're thinking. Any of our long time readers will know, I love crepes, I can't get enough of them, I just adore them. The crepe I ordered was minced pork and mascarpone cheese with a dried fruit chutney mixed in to it, simply beautiful. First, the pork was cooked properly, not too dry and not trichinosis inducing rare and the combination of the mascarpone and chutney added a nice, balanced sweetness to the dish. The tomatillo sauce over the top was also nice, slightly spicy and tangy it rounded off a very good crepe.

Cuban Sandwich
Matt ordered an entree that has seemed something akin to a unicorn for us in Austin – a proper Cuban Sandwich. This is a dish we have searched and searched for, but no one gets it right and it makes me weep. What am I getting so emotional about? Most "Cubans" found in the area seem to consist of sliced ham, your choice of a second meat (yeah, how 'bout pulled pork), crema, guacamole, and jalapenos served hot on a non-pressed bolillo. Tasty to be sure, but a Cuban it is not. A proper Cuban consists of pulled pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and a pickle spear all smashed together on hot sandwich press; yes a two ham sandwich, because three hams would certainly kill him. This version was also served with a garlic mojo on the side, which was essentially minced garlic in olive oil. This may be the best sandwich I have ever tasted in my entire life, the different ingredients play well to create a multi-layered flavor experience that will make you desire another. Apparently, unicorns DO exist!

All in all, this was a fantastic meal, we had nothing to complain about. Again I want to thank Niraj and his staff for treating us so well. We truly look forward to dining with y'all again!

Five Points of the Lonestar out of Five

Apothecary Café and Wine Bar
4800 Burnet Rd. Suite 450
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-Midnight, Sun  11am-10pm

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