Thursday, January 22, 2009
Ok Austin. Up to this point it's been a cute little journey for us as newcomers to the city, recapping restaurants popular Austin restaurants from the eyes of an Austin newbie. Here's our attempt to cover a restaurant that (hopefully) isn't completely obvious, in the hopes that it will give something new to try for long-time Austinites.
Somnio's Cafe was recommended to us by my co-worker Susan. It follows one of the bigger trends in dining these days -- everything local, organic, and vegetarian-friendly -- and it follows it very well.
The restaurant is fairly easy to miss, located on South First, and I'll admit the atmosphere inside could use a little more work. It's not an expensive restaurant but the food is good enough to warrant dressing the place up a bit, or at least just adding a bit of personality. The decor is very friendly but a little on the bland side (although I did dig the chandeliers, pictured above). To me it just seems like they didn't put a lot of thought or effort into it, and when I see places like that I get worried they don't put a lot of thought into their food either.
Luckily this was not the case at all. All the ingredients, as I stated, are local and organic. The menu is somewhat Asian-influenced and the value is incredible. We started out with the Pan-Fried Shitake Dumplings ($7), and, trust me, coming from someone who is fairly picky about dumplings (especially if the restaurant is not actually Asian), these were pretty darn good.
As my entree side salad, I got the Sissy's salad, which contains apples, jalapenos, goat cheese (or avocados in the summer), cilantro, pecans, and a garlic vinaigrette. Very unique and very delicious. For my main course, I had the Crazy Crispy (Pork) Medallions ($11), which were breaded tastily with panko and served with buckwheat noodles.
Han got one of their main specialties, the "Make Your Own Rice Bowl" ($7). Yeah, it's pretty much your typical build-your-own deal: you choose a protein, some veggies, and a sauce/seasoning. Han built a chicken curry plate that was both delicious and huge (see her hand for scale), and after the above comment about "worrying about the effort" you have to smile a bit at the detail in the presentation.
For drinks, Somnio's is currently BYO with no corkage fee (ch-ching!) and we did have a carafe of their organic coffee made in a french press that was quite excellent and sent us off happy.
[On a side note: we usually opt not to have dessert as we did at Somnio's that night, but we've been pondering whether it's fair to review a restaurant without tasting such an important feature as the dessert. What are your thoughts everyone? At the very least, we've decided we will re-visit the idea after the wedding. :-)]
1807 South First Street
KAT Announcements: First off, we're hoping to add another contributor in the near future. Keep on the lookout for her first post.
Second of all, I'm preparing to "research" the best cup of coffee in Austin. If you've got any suggestions, please post them below.
Til next time folks!