Monday, November 16, 2015

New Dinner Menu at the Driskill Grill

Listed on the National Register of Historic places and dating back to the late 1800s, there are few places in Austin as classic, sophisticated, and embedded with history as the Driskill hotel. So when I was asked to take part in a sneak peek at the new dinner menu at the Driskill Grill, I jumped at the opportunity.

For inspiration of the new offerings, the team dug into the archives, looking at menus all the way back to the 1930s. One thing that stood out was that the dining experience was always aimed at just that - an experience. Menus would try to offer something new, different, and almost exotic. So, the new menu offers just that - outside the box items - but with a "stay local" twist. For example, the foie gras is French inspired, but all ingredients are sourced locally.

We started the night in Chef Troy's office, which doubles as the perfect chef's table, finely decorated in deep, rich wood and warmth. Bubbly was popped open as we nibbled on some of the classic bar bites, including my favorites like the spiced nuts and bacon wrapped dates.

Waiting at the table was a generous slice of Cambozola Black brie blue cheese with sweet onion jam, drizzled Saba, and topped with house made bread crisps. The cheese had the slightest hint of truffle and just melted in your mouth. The sweet onion jam was a welcome compliment to the flavor.

Next up was the crispy softshell crawfish. Yes, that's right - crawfish. And boy oh boy was it delicious! It had all the taste and crunch one would look for. Served with a classic Texas caviar. 

Keeping with the exotic yet exquisite theme were the Hill Country Wild Boar Chops. Finished with an apple cider-honey glaze and served with a goat cheese pecan cream, it was all very seasonal and local.

Before we move on, I have to take a moment to compliment the bread. Baked daily in-house by Chef Tony, there was just the right softness inside to the crunchy crust outside, and the flavor was spot on.

Moving onto the first course, placed in front of us was the Roasted Acorn Squash Bisque with creme fraiche, roasted pumpkin seeds, and sage chile oil. I could have eaten the whole vat! And just to note, it pairs quite well with the aforementioned champagne bubbly.

Next was the pear and pecan salad with artisan greens, shaved fennel, grannie smith, and a molasses vinaigrette. A refreshing mid-course that one could call anything but boring.

First choice of entree for dinner was the Cornemeal Crusted Gulf Snapper with braised collard greens, pickled winter squash, spiced nuts, and brown sage butter. I was a real sucker for those collards...

Or the other option was the extremely popular House Dry-Aged Filet Mignon with bacon and balsamic brussels sprouts, smoked blue corn grits, and bordelaise sauce. The Driskill takes high pride in their on-site Dry Age room, much as they should. With a rare opportunity to have such a room, they can control how long they age the cut of beef, be it anywhere from one week to fourty-five days.

First up for dessert was the Apple Pie-semi Fredo. A delicate apple tatin atop of a frozen creme fraiche parfait, walnut cake and served with a side of house made vanilla bean ice cream. It was incredible, bravo!

Alternatively offered was a lovely Chocolate Terrine with silken Valrhona Brut chocolate mousseline, butterscotch tapioca, and chocolate crumble for some crunch. Just divine.

And as if we hadn't had our fill at this point, the Driskill added that extra touch, as it often does, and so kindly sent us home with some delicious macarons

All in all such a lovely night. We'll be back soon.