Tag Archives: food

Cantine

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Originally written for and posted by Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

Cantine Italian Café and Bar: The Upscale Side of Pasta

By Alysha Kaye Mendez

 

I don’t know if you fellow Austinites have noticed, but there aren’t very many solid Italian places here in the capital city. Pizza, sure. But I’m talkin’ homemade risotto, handcrafted bucatini, perfected spaghetti…you get the idea.

Cantine Italian Café and Bar, fairly new to the South Lamar main strip, is that missing element. Although the menu is small, each plate tastes like your long-lost grandmother from Tuscany whipped it up especially for you—slaved over the stove for hours, in fact, concocting each noodle to absolute excellence.

With the deliciousness comes a bit of a price tag—Cantine is definitely going for the upscale, fine-dining look. The wine list is extensive, the wait staff is super formal (in a polite, elegant way), and the décor is chic, modernly minimalistic. However, I was there on a Monday, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that Mondays are Happy Hour all day! Hooray!

We started off with fried goat cheese—they were so different, really unusual and tasty. They were served with red onion jam and honey. The calamari was standard, but the sauce they serve with it, mojo picon, was not—it was a bit too spicy for me. Amazingly, the chef prepared a simple red dipping sauce for me upon request—much better in my opinion.

Then the main courses—spaghetti carbanara and bucatini amatriciana (added sausage to this one). Both dishes were mouth-watering in appearance. The presentation is lovely and your taste buds will agree with your eyes—YUM! I can’t stress enough how much care every item seemed to have taken—every bite tasted equal to the last in flawlessness.

My only complaint? You have to request and buy your own bread. Call me cheap, call me an Olive Garden girl, but you shouldn’t have to pay for tortillas at a Mexican restaurant or bread at an Italian restaurant…am I right? That being said, the olive sourdough with whipped lardo was suberb.

We topped off the fancy late-night stop with dessert—polenta cake with vanilla custard, Amarena cherries, and cherry coulis! So, so, so good—but we couldn’t even finish it since we’d already stuffed ourselves with various forms of divine carbs.

Set a date night or girls’ night out soon—Cantine is wonderful. It’s location is fantastic as well—afterwards, you can walk to Alamo Drafthouse for a movie or Barlata for a drink.

VOX Table

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Originally written for and published by Texas Lifestyle Magazine 🙂

Looking for a new twist on date night? Obviously, Alamo Drafthouse is a perfect movie spot, but have you seen the snazzy restaurant and bar across from the theater? VOX is lit up at night, quite beautifully, but is barely visible during the day—hidden underneath swanky apartments and overshadowed by Highball and Drafthouse. You can easily walk by the entrance and not realize it, which honestly, is part of the draw.

Once inside, however, VOX is anything but bashful. Modern black and white décor mesh well with a tangle of artistic lighting, a bright area to view the chefs hard at work, and a fully stocked bar.

The wine, cocktail, and beer menu is vast—get ready to spend some time on that. Or, if you’re like me, give up and order a glass of Riesling like you always do when confronted with novel-sized drink lists.

Dinner is the real treat—there’s something for every palette, separated into these categories: provisions (cheeses and breads), leaves + roots, fins + shells, hooves, and feathers + beaks. Plus dessert, of course. Lunch is “TBD” on their website, so right now, they are strictly a dinner (and brunch on the weekends) spot. I really enjoyed how they divided the entrees—we tasted a plate from almost every section!

It has to be said that VOX doesn’t just look upscale—it definitely is upscale, price-wise. Plates are small and shareable, but not cheap, much like the close-by Odd Duck. Everything was delectable though, and immediately made the dollar sign not matter much (or maybe that was the wine).

We started with the wood-fired oysters, which were insanely tasty, topped with pancetta, garlic butter, and an herb crumble. Then, we ordered the grilled quail with mushroom bread pudding, which was also delicious, but paled in comparison to the poutine (crispy potatoes with gravy, cheese curds, and pig head terrine) that was next. Although at this point, we were stuffed, the “tongue + cheek buns” called to us, closing out the night. They are basically fancy barbaqoa-stuffed rolls and they are phenomenal. We couldn’t finish the third, and vowed to take it home for breakfast the next day—we had big plans for topping it with a fried egg. I will definitely be back one day soon to try the calamari noodles.

If you are a foodie, if you are in Austin, if you have some time to kill before your Drafthouse showing, if you need a chic night out—VOX Table is for you.  Happy wining and dining!

 

 

About the author: Alysha Kaye is a high school English teacher in Kyle, TX and recent author—her debut novel The Waiting Room is available on Amazon and at BookPeople. When she’s not wrangling 9th graders, she’s blogging, reading, or exploring Austin.

For more, follow her on Twitter @alyshakaye7 or check out her website: http://www.alyshakaye.com