Restaurant Week is well underway here in Austin, and last night I went to my first (hopefully of a few) dinner to take advantage of sampling three courses [more if you come with friends who understand, and permit, the existence of my "traveling fork";)] for a set deal. A portion goes to charity, so you can feel good about, well, stuffing your face.*
*By the way, I think stuffing your belly is really the more appropriate term here. Yes, it may appear as though you are stuffing food into your face, in the end, it is your belly that feels full to bursting, is it not?
The latest stop on my culinary tour of the town? Corazon at Castle Hill, a more upscale* Mexican dining experience, and home to what I hear are fantastic Happy Hour deals. (I will have to investigate that further at another time…)
*The way you can tell that you are in an “upscale” Mexican restaurant is the chips and salsa aren’t free.
Then I encountered an iguana!
Don’t worry, he backed away once he saw how tough I was.
The restaurant was filled with authentic Mexican handcrafts and artisanal decor.
The owner has a second home in San Miguel de Allende and many of the crafts are from that region in Mexico.
There was even a chandelier in the bathroom! [Which, bizzarely, is something I have always kind of wanted in my own house.]
I have to admit, I chose Corazon at Castle Hill for two reasons:
- It costs $10 less for dinner than any other restaurant.
- I could make a reservation online without having to call anyone [and therefore was able to covertly do so on a break between groups during school.] (Shhhhh…don’t tell!)
Although the menu looked fabulous, and if you say Spanish or Mexican I am generally going to leave happy, I had never been, nor did I know of anyone who had been there, so I didn’t know what to expect. What I got? Muy rico!
I’m pretty sure I was sold on coming here because they had ceviche as a first course.
You know I love ceviche…and this one did not disappoint in the slightest. The chips were very light and not greasy at all, but I do prefer the traditional saltine pairing (call me crazy).
For my entree, I chose the Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Charred Ancho Chili and Red Wine Sauce.
I apologize for the horrible photo, but the pork was dry rubbed and served on a spicy chili sauce. The sun-dried cherry chutney was a really delicious sweet-tart combination, and, along with the spice in the rub and sauce, made for a really interesting flavor situation. The beans were nothing special, but I ate them of course. That corn pudding tamale, however? Now THAT was phenomenal. I was using my fork to scrape the edges of the corn husk. It had chunks of corn in it and tasted like a delicate polenta…or, as Chris said, “undercooked cornbread.”*
Jen ordered Voodoo Shrimp with Caribbean Mango Sauce. She let me have a nibble, and they were really delicious shrimp, although not nearly as spicy as they claimed they would be.
I did have a healthy amount of the papaya-pineapple relish, though. It was delicious, especially with a bit of the mango-habanero sauce in it. Her tamale was corn and banana, and a little too sweet for me, although I like the concept of a banana cornbread….[Note to self: Make banana cornbread.]
The boys both ordered the Chicken Enchiladas Mole Negro. They were really good, and the mole was very rich and chocolately. I’m not a huge mole fan, but I enjoyed the bites Josh shared with me.
We had all three of the desserts at the table. Unfortunately, Jen’s Chocolate Truffle Heart didn’t make for a pretty picture (although it was cutely heart-shaped), but it tasted like…well….a chocolate truffle. There is something to be said for being exactly what you claim, no? For example: Chris’s Peanut Butter Pie. It tasted like….peanut butter!
What did I order for dessert? Much like I saw ceviche at the top of the menu and knew I’d start the meal happy, I saw bread pudding on the bottom and knew I would leave content as well. More specifically, this was Bread Pudding with Mexican Brandy Espresso Sauce, filled with fried bananas and raisins. [And yes, I ate the mint leaves. I am not above eating garnish.]
Delicious! Soft, but not mushy. Sweet, but not too sweet. And how can you not love fresh whipped cream? What about the sauce, you ask….well, I’ll quote Josh on this one: “There is definitely some alcohol in that.”
Not that that’s a bad thing.
Overall thoughts on the dining experience? It was a very good, satisfying meal, and I would definitely go back, especially since I almost wanted to just order from the regular menu rather than follow the restaurant week suggestions! Sadly, there were no eyes closed,”oh my goll” moments of foodie heaven, but I guess not everyone can make me swoon with a morsel of food .