Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Austin Restaurant Week: Jeffrey's

I couldn't bring myself to whip out the iPhone for pictures of our plates at Jeffrey's. And that is such a shame.

For years, I've been curious about the unassuming corner restaurant in Clarksville, one of those enviably charming, pricey neighborhoods I'll always dream of owning a home in. My best friend and her husband go to Jeffrey's every year for their anniversary. Parents take their kids to Jeffrey's for college graduation dinners. Guys go there to pop the question. It's the gold standard of Austin restaurants.

I've let a full week pass since our dinner, but I can still recall the two stand-out dishes: seared lighthouse scallops and braised short ribs.

The scallops were plated with scattered leaves of roasted brussel sprouts (which, over time, I'll no doubt establish on this blog as my all-time favorite vegetable for roasting) and an unidentifiable starch we learned was daikon. To the best of my knowledge, it was my first time eating daikon. And as we embark on a low-carb lifestyle, we are making way for the introduction of more starchy vegetables -- which means I'm adding daikon to the list ASAP. I can only hope to make it this good, because Jeffrey's daikon was ... perfection. I was sure I was eating little cylindrical pieces of sauteed potatoes. Mike's guess was parsnip. How wrong we both were; how enlightened we became.

Here's the thing about the short ribs. The very thing that might turn some people off is the reason I will go back just to order these again: they tasted like liver. Yep. The dry-aged ribs with horseradish creme and little pommes Dauphine (think hollow hush puppies) were melt-in-your-mouth delectable, but there was an unmistakable liver flavor. I'm the only person in my age range who will go to Luby's just for the liver and onions. Mike knows this, and when he took the first bite, he knew I'd be enforcing our previously agreed upon strategy of sharing the appetizers. Suffice it to say, the three perfectly seared cubes of short ribs (ironically served without actual ribs) were not nearly enough, especially when divided by two.

My chocolate 'intemperance' dessert was forgettable (too much mousse, not enough flourless cake), but Mike's Crescent City Beignets with Malted Milk Vanilla Ice Cream Affogato was TDF. (To. Die. For.) Affogato is Italian for "drowned", and typically refers to a coffee-based beverage or dessert. When our waitress brought out the ice cream and beignets, she drowned them in a chocolate-espresso sauce. Like I said, TDF.

The new Jeffrey's chef hails from NOLA, and I don't know how the regulars feel about it, but I appreciated the Louisiana spin on both Mike's dessert and the crispy oyster appetizer we also shared. How can you go wrong with a New Orleans chef?

(Mike, if you're reading, it's time to book our three-day weekend.)

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