Anniversary dinners are special, but this year was extra special.
My husband and I were married a year ago last Sunday (the 18th) here in Austin (well, technically Driftwood) in a beautiful fall outdoor ceremony with a super fun and delicious reception that followed. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day and a more fun bunch to celebrate together. In fact, if you want to check out a highlight reel, feel free to view the video below.
Not having any faith that my new hubby would be able to plan ahead (he travels a lot for work), I went ahead and made reservations at one of my favorite places (aka classic special occasion restaurant here), Uchi, thinking it was a great back-up just in case. Since i had made this reservations a couple of months in advance, I figured, why not - we can't go wrong with Uchi. However, on a normal Wednesday evening at home, as we sat down to eat a home-cooked meal and watch whatever Netflix show we were bingeing on at the time, TJ just lovingly turned to me and said, "You can cancel that Uchi reservation, by the way, since I know you already made one." Swallowing my bite and my guilt, I sheepishly said, "Ok - where are we going instead." Before he could get the whole sentence out that started with "Have you heard of La..."
"YES! REALLY?! That's awesome!" "V?" ha.
Yes, I was excited. Have been wanting to visit Executive Chef Sean O'Leary's La V Restaurant & Wine Bar for a while and didn't have an upcoming special occasion (or a rich uncle) to check it out yet. Giving my husband lots of credit and several kisses on the cheek, I giddily ate the rest of my meal and continued our show. 2 more weeks 'til taste-off. Yes.
When we arrived, I was impressed by the European-style patio and ornate decor as we entered the foyer - decadent crystal chandeliers, an extensive wine collection on display, and cozy dining nooks. We headed to our table where the waitstaff greeted us and offered up their tantalizing cocktail menu - I chose the Astral Plane (Chamomile Vermouth, Montenegro, Dry Curaçao, Black Cardamom) and TJ settled on the Omakase (Rye, Gold Rum, Umeboshi, Cuban Sage, Lemon - basically their version of a classic Old Fashioned). We figured we'd get some wine later on in the meal.
Leaving us to peruse the menu, our friendly server brought back our drinks pretty quickly (considering how ornate they were). Teej enjoyed his, and mine was amazing - sweet and tea-like, I felt like I was enjoying dessert first (but in a good way!). They also left us with an amazing fresh roll with some of the saltiest, most amazing butter I've ever eaten. In fact, my mouth is watering thinking about that butter right now. But. Ter. Mmm.
After some reminiscent conversation, we decided on what we were going to indulge in for dinner. I made ordering simple by choosing the Chef's Tasting: 1) roasted cauliflower, pumpkin, apple butter, and comté fondue, 2) Wagyu beef filet with sautéed chanterelle mushrooms and finishing with 3) blue cheese ice cream, candied pecans, port figs and a delish port sauce to pour over. Whoa - couldn't wait for it to get to me!
TJ choose the house cured salmon, preserved lemon, radish and caviar to start, followed by the Niman Ranch Port Chop (with creamer pea and butternut squash), and the warm brioche doughnuts, coffee pastry cream and fudge sauce. Needless to say, he was pretty pumped too.
I'm pretty sure I died and went to food heaven, because even though there were some flavors I'm not quite used to, I was super impressed with how everything paired together and the presentation was lovely. As far as my first course, roasted veggies are roasted veggies - my skirt wasn't blown up very high (I don't love pumpkin usually) - but it wasn't bad at all. Ironically my favorite part of dinner was my husband's pork chop. I've never had anything like it - so tender and juicy and the butternut squash really went well with it. My Wagyu steak was divine - perfectly seared medium rare, and the savoriness of the sautéed mushrooms was a nice contrast.
All this second course did was make me even more curious about dessert. Blue cheese ice cream? Bleh - I'm open minded, but I'm not a fan of blue or should I said bleu (haughtily pronounced like blurr) cheese, but I'm eager to give it a try. Let me tell ya - if you don't think you'll like this, you are in for a big surprise. The mixture of sweet creaminess with the saltiness of the pecans and hint of cheese was indeed heaven. Please, sir, may I have some more? Good. Night. Nurse.
TJ's brioche doughnuts were soft, sugary pillows that you could dip in a whipped coffee cream or the chocolate sauce pairing - fun and delicious.
We left LaV feeling as if we had spent the evening in a whole other city - it didn't feel like Austin in there. It wasn't Paris, but it was definitely somewhere in-between. As soon as we exited the doors, the screechy sounds of an electric guitar blasting from one of the East 6th Street bars reminded us that we were still home in the ATX. Thank goodness for both escape-from and return-to reality. Both taste divine.