Fan Mail Question From HOB friend Laurie R-K.

My question to the House of Been is where do you go in Austin for a nice dinner at a GOOD restaurant, not a sh!%ty chain or a mediocre kitschy place where they will trade on hip waitresses and tricky wines named for cute reptiles… But a place with intelligent helpful staff, where you can get a nice glass of wine and an interesting fresh meal in a comfortable atmosphere?

If I had to compiled a list of examples they would be

Asti
Vespaio Enoteca
Chez Nous
Mandolas (for the food BUT it is WAY too crowded to just go have a nice dinner in quiet)
Mars (but a lil $$)

BUT I want MORE!!!

This is my question for the House of BEEN! Can you please help me? L

P.S. no  thai, vietnamese texmex or BBQ please… Got that covered!

Great Question L!

Some of our favorites would be:

Bellagio
Real. Italian. Food. We’ve enjoyed hand made pastas and delicious lamb and perfect polenta here. The atmosphere is elegant and the staff was knowledgeable, friendly and very professional. A great experience. The bar while small is a great place to have a drink before your meal. We’ve also seen couples split a pizza and couple glasses of wine at the bar too. We’re going to do that soon!

Mikado Ryotei
While the overall Sushi experience might be a little better at Musashino, Mikado has the atmosphere. Moderen and slick with lower, dare I say, romantic lighting. The staff is attentive and always has great suggestions. Sushi not your thing? No problem. While the Sushi is creative and delicious they also specialize if wonderful grilled items. The Oak Grilled Prawns are fantastic!

Vin Bistro (soon to be VIN Midtown Restaurant & Lounge)

The dishes we’ve had here, very good and the deals on and selection of wine also very good. Beth loved the Southern Fried Chicken with a gourmet spin and the Lamb Shank in Jus was near perfect. All menu items are pared with a suggested wine or the very knowable server can offer a suggestion too.  Wednesdays offered 1/2 price wine by the glass. Atmosphere was a little lacking. However, that looks like it could change. Vin is currently being remodeled and re-imagined. Let’s hope it is for the better.

Salute!

House of Been

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Austin Wine Festival, Has A Ways To Go Yet

Wine Fest

Getting to taste some, let me stress some, of the wines from different vineyards and wineries of the Texas Hill Country really revealed a true terroir or special characteristics of this region. A mineral and either grassy or vegetal note plays in most of these wines. When treated right this was quite nice. I encountered many, sweet and semisweet wines too. Many not really to my liking. Of the more than 20 wineries and vineyards represented I enjoyed Driftwood Vineyards the best this day. I thought the 2005 Lone Star Cab was nicely balanced with the right touch of oak.

As I mentioned, I was not able to taste all or at least all that I wanted to this weekend. Unlike last year, the price of admision ($25) included only ten 1 oz tastes. I was quite disappointed with this change. I also believe this hurt the vineyards as well. It forced me to be choosy. If I tasted a variety I did not like so much I was more likey to move on and try someone elses offerings instead of trying another style.

I was also disappointed in the food offerings, Whole Foods offered fruit and cheese plates only. A feeble offering that should have been much more. There were some other offering such as Freebirds New World Burrito and Boomerang’s Meat Pies. I did have a taste of the Meat Pie, pretty good but not exactly the fair I was hoping to enjoy at the wine festival.

Overall I just did not find the whole experience very inviting. I found myslef saying “well it is only the second year maybe it will get better.” Unfortunately, that is what I said last year and I had a better time then.