Olivia

So this is the last blog about my birthday, I promise. For the day of my birthday we went to Olivia which is a fairly new restaurant that focuses on a partnership with local farmers and artisans in the Austin community. Of course, this peaked my interest. Now I had heard a variety of reviews in regards to this restaurant but I tend to want to judge things based on my own experience, not others. I have to say, I’m glad that I didn’t listen to the negative reviews, this place was great. The building is very interesting, especially considering the neighborhood it lives in – it’s surprising when you see Olivia’s building next to a car garage and other ‘non interesting’ architecture. I will say that the dining area is a bit narrow and not exactly a ‘peace and quiet’ sort of establishment. The noise level seems to get a little rowdy (and that’s on a Wednesday evening) and I think that may be due to the shape of the room, the wall of glass and tight spacing of the tables. But I digress.

Really, what we were there for was some good food and that’s what we got. Our waitress, Stasia, did a great job of steering our meal. We asked her for her general recommendations and it came to light that the chef’s favorite item on the menu was the lamb’s tongue fricasee which included a dijon pan sauce, yaupon honey, and cherry-apricot mustarda. I know, tongue. Weird, right? I actually had just read an article in Bon Appetit asking what the food editor’s favorite ‘good, inexpensive cut of meat’ was. Turns out it was tongue. So that article peaked my interest enough to try it. And it was good. Very good in fact. I would encourage all of you to put your preconceptions or queasiness aside to try it. Seriously.

So from there we ordered our recommended entrees. Mine was the gulf shrimp pot pie, with leeks, corn, and early girl tomatoes. The puff pastry was made in house. Seriously? It’s one of the most labor intensive doughs to make by hand. I’ve had several chefs just tell me to buy it frozen and never worry about making it by hand. Well that was incredible, to say the least. The pot part of the pie? It was delicious as well. It was very much like a shrimp bisque although not as heavy as what a traditional bisque is. There were layers of flavor and bright pops of corn. It all felt upscale but the same time very much like comfort food.

Jason had the milk-braised pork sugo,with tomato, white wine, and semolina gnocchi. I don’t think either of us knew what he was ordering. I don’t think that ‘gnocchi’ was an adequate description for what arrived. It was more like a baked polenta cake. Delicious, don’t get me wrong, but I think a gnocchi is a gnocchi based on its shape not necessarily its ingredient (which is normally potato, not semolina). Anyways, over this ‘gnocchi’ was an incredible thick tomato sauce with succulent pieces of pork belly and pork shoulder (I think). Definitely a comfort food.

Even though we were stuffed, we had to order dessert which was a chocolate terrine with port blackberry sauce and cocoa nib anise ice cream. I thought it was delicious, but what flour-less dense chocolate cake substance isn’t delicious? I was especially intrigued by the cocoa nib anise ice cream. I love anise flavoring and this ice cream was perfect. 🙂 Yum! If I could just get a gallon of that to go, that would be perfect. Who said ice cream pregnancy cravings had to be Blue Bell?

All in all, we had a great night, with great food, with great service. Just look how happy we were:

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2 Comments

  1. Posted December 19, 2008 at 6:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Oh it sounds like it was so fun! We ate tongue occasionally in Mexico, so I’ve tried and I’ve never been a fan but my dad and brother love it. All the food sounds so amazing! Happy Birthday!

  2. Posted December 19, 2008 at 7:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’m not sure about eating anything’s tongue, but I’ve certainly wanted to eat at Olivia. Glad y’all went and liked it. (:

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