Thursday, October 27, 2011

Return to Wonderment

Cafe Terrace at Night - Vincent van Gogh

To celebrate my return home from a week-long business trip, my husband took me out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, the South Congress Café. Located at 1600 South Congress Avenue in Austin, this eclectic restaurant sits smack dab in the middle of the funky fun SoCo neighborhood.

We were seated at a window booth, and I was struck by the stickiness of the table. When I mentioned it to the waitress, she explained that the tables were in the process of being refinished, and ours had not yet been done. But, the arrival of our salads made me forget all about that.

I ordered the Caprese Salad, a simple combination of fresh heirloom tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella cheese, homemade pesto and pine nuts, drizzled in balsamic vinaigrette.  Delicioso! 

Gene’s salad, which I’ve eaten before and featured here on my blog, is still my favorite – the Very Bleu Salad.  Being a salad snob, it’s rare to find the perfect leafy combination, but South Congress Café has a definite winner.  Romaine, chunks of gorgonzola cheese, rosemary candied pecans (oh my!), hard-boiled quail eggs and their very own balsamic vinaigrette – need I say more?

As for our entrees, we both tried dishes we hadn’t had before.  Gene selected the Cajun Seafood Scampi – jumbo shrimp, ahi tuna, sea scallop, and jalapeno sausage on a bed of angel hair pasta.  Now, I am a big fan of Cajun food and seafood, but I found the spices in this dish to be a bit too heavy and hot for such a light pasta.

I, on the other hand, reveled in my Sea Bass Gnocchi. I think this is the best piece of fish I’ve ever eaten! (That’s saying a lot, since I’ve eaten many fabulous fish dishes!) The dish consisted of a pan seared sea bass filet, homemade herb gnocchi (an Italian dumpling), roasted fennel, oyster mushrooms and watercress. The fennel was such an interesting licorice-like flavor that perfectly complimented the fish. The shift manager, who stopped by our table, commented that the Sea Bass Gnocchi is his favorite dish.

Hats off to the chefs, once again, at South Congress Café!

"5 Chefs" - Laura Barbosa

"All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind." --Kahlil Gibran

"A jazz musician can improvise based on his knowledge of music. He understands how things go together. For a chef, once you have that basis, that's when cuisine is truly exciting." --Charlie Trotter

Ciao Down, Y'all!

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