delicious discourse

Trio at the Four Seasons, Austin, Texas – Too good to leave….

Posted in restaurants by delicious:discourse on February 21, 2008

I am a lucky girl, a very lucky girl. And I am not even Irish. Even though I may complain, alot, life is pretty good. My luck on Sunday lead me to two very delicious meals at Trio, formerly known as the Cafe at the Four Seasons in Austin. After running the AT&T Austin Half-Marathon on Sunday, I really could have eaten anything. Thirteen miles can work up an appetite! After getting over my severe disappointment of not going to Kerbey Lane (where we were originally going to brunch”), being seated in a private dining room to accommodate our party of 9 (right away, might I add), and surveying the food offerings, I got excited. Really excited. I had heard about brunch at the Four Seasons for EVER and I was finally going to get to try it. After our own private waiter, Joe, explained the layout of the land as well as giving me insider tips to the best migas in Austin (M’s dad swears his favorite are at the Four Seasons), taking care of my caffeine fix, I dove in for my first round.

The miniature waffles was the first thing to jump on my plate besides the chocolate covered rice-krispie treat I made at the chocolate fountain (the fountain was a pleasant suprise and my only complaint is they did not have cubes of pound cake, my favorite thing to dip). The waffles were perfectly formed and golden brown. I added some fresh whip cream atop a mound of mixed berries (blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries) with a nice long pour of syrup. At the same station were mini pancakes not more than 3 inches in diameter looking very tempting, but the square dips created by the lattices of the waffle won out. Next I moved over to the egg station. An egg-white omelette, made to order, with cheese, sausage, and tomatoes was added to my plate, along with a cream cheese blintz about to burst and accompanied by a buttery slice of apricot. I passed up the cooked sausage and bacon, the eggs-benedict that looked divine and sinful at the same time, the pastry encrusted salmon wellington, the drum, as well as the sliced steak. I curiously explored the oatmeal and yogurt each served in martini glasses. The oatmeal was appealing with what looked like to be dried fruit and nuts mixed into the creamy oatness (after consulting the menu, I discovered the “oatmeal” to be Old-World Birchermuesli consisting of rolled oats, raisins, bananas, pecans, cinnamon, and vanilla yogurt). The salad station consisted of everything from caprese salad (tomato and mozarrella) to pates, cheese and antipasti, seafood salads, sesame-crusted ahi tuna, etc. I opted out of most, due to the shellfish (M is SO allergic), however M did grab some of the ahi tuna, which was tasteless and too grainy in texture (growing up in Hawaii, I know good ahi tuna). Passing the dessert table, I was saving for later, I went back to taste my findings.
The cheese blintz was everything I thought it would be and more. The crepe-like exterior broke awake to reveal the the rich cream cheese filling inside that held its form. The belgian waffle proved to be crispy on the outside with a soft middle and you could tell the whip cream had been made in house by its creamy, not overly fluffy texture, adn not too sweet. My egg-white omelette proved just as I asked, but nothing unique. M had never had drum before, but he was not too impressed. The mashed potatoes were perfectly creamy and salty. From around the table I heard various murmurs of pleasure and not a plate went away uncleared. As for dessert, I picked up a cheesecake that was so flavorful, yet so light, not your typical heavy dense cheesecake. It tasted of authentic New York cheesecake with cookie-dough crust, sitting on round sugar cookie. M tried the Stawberry Pannacotta, and one bite was enough of the syrupy sweetness.
Overall everything was pretty tasty and the service was excellent and friendly. One of the sous-chefs wondering around stopped to inform us that the elaborate scupture presiding over the desserts was actually made from chocolate by the pastry chef. She was going to Paris for a competition she had entered . He politely smiled when I asked if she wanted to take me with her and he answered all my questions about his culinary education. However, I found something lacking in the brunch, I kept going back out to the food area wanting something more, but not sure exactly what it was. Maybe I was looking to be a wowed, and it just did not happen.
Now dinner at Trio, is something else. I had the privilege of dining at Trio for dinner for the second time on Sunday. It was better than I remembered. First of all, you can not really beat the setting of sitting outside on the patio, the Town Lake breeze softly rustling the trees, comfy chairs, shawls to wrap around your shoulders, and heaters providing warmth to lull you into a meal that seems like a dream. Also, I just have to mention this because I don’t think it will ever happen again, we never left the Four Seasons between brunch and dinner. And for brunch, because it was after the marathon, we were all in jeans and T-shirts, running clothes, and I in a Juicy hoodie and sweats and Puma shoes. To dinner, I went dressed in the same extremely casual outfit and recieved no discrimmination from the staff (we may have gotten a few dirty looks from diners, but that is their problem, not mine). I have never been so comfortable eating a meal or relaxed (the margarita, I had at the bar upstairs, may have had something to do with that).
To start the table ordered a combination of two different salads, a Romaine Caeser and the other a Mixed Green Salad (the greens came from, the very local, Dripping Springs). As asked, the chef blended the anchovies into the dressing rather than having them sit on top of the long leafs of crisp Romaine lightly tossed in the dressing. The Mixed Green Salads came with a light dressing, fried pieces of seasoned fennel that had some kick and provided some necessary crunch, and topped with creamy goat cheese. It was light and perfect after a long day in the sun.
One of my favorite things at TRIO are the popovers that are served as the bread course (also served at lunch). They are irregular shapes of copper and fried-buttery goodness. They are full of air, but their “skin” is copper-brown and crispy on the outside and a doughy yellow on the inside. I could make a whole meal of them and had to restrain myself from consuming them all.
The first time I dined at TRIO was the first time in my life that I have EVER truly enjoyed a steak. This may not sound like a big deal, some people just don’t like beef, but this 23-year old did not start eating red-meat and pork until she was 19. Growing up I ate mostly fish, chicken, and turkey. When I moved to Texas I decided if I was going to not eat something, it was going to be because I did not like it, not because that is the way I was raised. I have eaten steak and pork, but when dining out, have consitently preferred fish. On Sunday, I ordered the 8 oz fillet again, and it was the second time in my life I have truly enjoyed a steak. Their steak is, what I am determined to believe, why people eat beef. The meat is cooked sans butter (I hate buttered steaks) which means a) the chef knows what he is doing and b) it is a quality cut of meat. I ordered my steak chef’s choice, which was medium-rare, and that is how it came, served on a light swirl of a red-wine like sauce, and topped with a cooked shallot and a sprig of rosemary. It proved tender on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside, thoroughly laced with the warm, natural flavor of beef. M’s mom ordered the Rosted Grouper served in a pumpkin puree sauce of a sweet, yet slightly acidic flavor. The waiter brought a trio of salts for us to try with our various entrees consiting of a french salt, a hawaiian salt, and a smoked salt. We all concured the French salt was the best accent to the steaks and the fish with its rough texture and hint of herb (it reminded me of Provencal seasonsing). For sides we ordered the maple-roasted beets consisting of what looked like to be three types of beets of their usual vibrant hue of magenta, and the sweet corn creme brulee with its candided top to be broken away to the sweet corn concoction underneath. Too satisfied with the simple, yet sophisticated meal, dessert was passed up, but only with the condition that I would come back and have just coffee and dessert sometime soon, very soon.

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(Corn Creme Brulee. Photo courtesy of www.fourseasons.com/austin/photo_gallery/)

It really was a perfect meal of freshness and confidence in quality over quantity with simple accents opposed to over dressing. At TRIO, everything tastes as it should.

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