Friday, October 24, 2008
** Editor's note: closed by the restaurant group in Fall 2016, and repurposed as Lucy's On the Fly, a carry out fried chicken spot.
I am so fat and happy right now (and very slightly buzzed), that I don't even know that I can write properly about one of South Austin's newest establishments, a fine dining one at that, in every sense of the word. Olivia's, a quasi-Frenchish (with heavy Italian influences) bistro sorta place opened on South Lamar, just north of Oltorf, in early August. I pass it every day coming home from work, and saw it being constructed from the slab on up. So two plus months later, I check it out. What a treat!
We arrived a mere two hours ago, just before 6:30 pm, beating any Friday night crowd that may have swarmed. The interior design of the place is, I think, fairly stunning. High angled ceiling, very clean, modern lines. Flower arrangements with whole apples in the vases added to the visual appeal. Seating includes booths, benchs, 4-top tables, and a small bar area, so something for everyone. See their site for pics.
First the wine... or bubbly I should say. Alne Prosecco, which for me was perfect! Not very dry, but definitely not real sweet, bit zippy, fruity. It complemented everything nicely. Our first course was the Tarte Flambe, essentially a pizza, with creme fraiche, caramelized onions, bacon and calvados. Bacon was tasty! (Duh.) Not sure I tasted any calvados. The crust on ours was a bit blackened around 3/4 of the edges, but not terribly offensive. We both agreed the crust was a bit doughy/yeasty, like a fluffy pita without the pocket. The second course was the beet salad, which they nicely plated separately for the two of us. Very thin slices of beets stacked with some onions and a milder feta cheese with a vinaigrette that had twang, but not noticeably so.
For the main entrees, we had the herbed ricotta ravioli in Prosecco brown butter, which was dusted with amaretti cookie crumbs, and accompanied by starkrimson pears. The pears are a smaller red variety that our waitress said were local (neither of us have heard of them), as they've been getting them from the farmer's market. Tasted like a pear... The 6 large ravioli were tasty, and nice with the pears, but could have used more contrast in flavor and texture. Nuts? More amaretti? The other dish was the grilled ribeye.... mmmm, steak! Menu says molasses bacon butter.... certainly got the bacon, and looking back on it now, I guess any sweetness I was tasting I thought was from caramelzation, not from molasses. It was a huge cut of meat, and done a perfect medium rare.... a good deal of fat, but we know that fat equals flavor, so what hasn't already rendered, just cut around it! The meat was extremely tender, and almost filet mignon-like in texture; it's served with sauted fingerling potatoes and some hearty oyster mushrooms.
Not that we weren't stuffed already, but we had to look at the dessert menu. It was a tossup between an apple pie thing (the exact name now escapes me) and the sticky toffee pudding with creme fraiche ice cream. Our server voted for the sticky toffee, and that's probably one of the best restaurant desserts I've ever had (and yes, I've had a few!). It was a generous sized piece of tender cake, generously covered in a wonderful deep toasted toffee sauce... you could taste the butter and brown sugar, as your eyes rolled back in your head. The ice cream was a great foil, and little bites of the cold ice cream and the warm cake and drippy sauce were like heaven. And I am totally stuffed.... we only ate half the torte flambe (lunch tomorrow!) and if we ate half the ribeye, I'd be shocked...though it was going home to a husband who by now has probably demolished it, if he can keep 3 dogs away.
It's rather exciting that there's such a good mix of food close to my house! The previously written about Lulu's Vietnamese is about 150 yards south of Olivia's. So trailer to fine dining, Lulu's to Olivia's....keep it coming!