Thursday, February 21, 2008


1014 North Lamar, Ste. E
Austin, TX 78703

Mariah: So Valentines Day was last week. I hope all you readers had a wonderful and romantic evening filled with good love, better lovin, and maybe even a bit of tasty food. I found myself in the strange position of being single on Valentine's Day. Oh horror of horrors, I know, how could that happen to a great catch such as myself? Well from time to time the stars align, quarks spin the wrong way, things go hay-wire and the Universe decides to throw you a streak of bad luck. But despite the Universe, I've been trying to make the best of being single again. After having dating through the phone book in Fort Worth, I've turned my attentions to the available men of Austin, and in my usual fashion I've gone full throttle. But dating isn't about quantity, its about quality and I have to say, Austin has some quality single men! This year, however, I found myself in an awkward position. Though, I received several invites from some very nice men to partake in Valentines Day celebrations, I had only really gone out with each of these gentlemen once or twice. And being the practical, modern girl I am, I thought it would create an immature sense of intimacy between myself and whichever lucky gentleman I happened to pick. Plus, as Zach pointed out, gentlemen who take a lady out on Valentines Day expect a little something extra at the end of the night that I just wasn't quite ready to give. So, after weighing my options I decided to spend Valentines Day with my favorite pseudo-single friend, Laura.

Laura: I'd like to disclaimer that by "pseudo-single" she means "physically unable to see my boyfriend". I'd also like to add that it was an honor to be chosen best substitute for a date on Valentine's Day.

Mariah: We started the evening at a free ladies event at The Nest, a trendy furniture store at 6th and Lamar. There were literally hundreds of single women scarfing down the free booze and brownies, listening to the mellow jazz band and mingling with other upwardly mobile Austin women.

Laura: The party at Nest was actually co-ed but you never would have known it. Now, I grew up as the only girl amongst 2 brothers and 3 male cousins, majored in engineering, and now work in an industry that is less than 20% female so I'm not acclimated to being surrounded with so many cute shoes and cool haircuts in one room. The estrogen was getting to me- I needed cute shoes too!

Mariah: So we strolled down to Emerald to shoe shop. Not finding anything we couldn't live without, we continued our stroll down to Wink, my favorite Austin restaurant. Since it was V-Day, we didn't figure we'd get into the restaurant proper, so we headed to the wine bar next door. We thought we'd get a couple of glasses of wine and an appetizer before headed off to the Mean Eyed Cat to meet our other pseudo-single friends for an "I Hate V-Day" bash. We were totally surprised and shocked to discover 1) that we got a seat at the bar and 2) the Wink wine bar serves the same food as the proper restaurant! We did a happy dance and quickly ordered wine and purused the menu.

Laura: Mariah left out the fact that she leered over a couple that were nearing the end of their Valentine's Day Wink experience for a good 5-10 minutes to get them to leave while I stood back and tried to give them their space. It really was a work of good cop/bad cop genius.

Mariah: I went with my current favorite, a nice dry Malbac, and Laura went with the tradition V-Day sparkling wine, Prosecco (which we now know after Miss Jane's class is NOT made in the Methode Champagnoise) . We decided to watch our girlish figures and to split an appetizer and a entree. We went with a homey mac and cheese for the appetizer (I think its one of the bar's normal appetizers) and a mushroom crepe. While we waited on our food we giggled about boys, shoes, and other frizolous things girls are supposed to chat about. When we finished our drinks, the food still hadn't arrived, so we did what any sensible person would do and ordered another round. I decided to switch from the dry tasty malbec to a fruitier pinot noir. I forget what Laura went with for her second glass, but it wasn't prosecco.

Laura: At first I recoiled with disgust at the Prosecco, but each sip brought me in and by the end of the glass I had found it refreshing and perfect for the occasion, but not perfect enough for another glass. I opted for a red this time.

Mariah: The food arrived quickly after ordering our second glass and we dug in. The food was amazing, as I've come to expect from wink. The mac and cheese was a perfect creamy baked blend of pasta and cheese. They even used ridged (rigate) macaroni and not the smooth walled kind because, as any foodie knows, ridges hold sauce better. The mushroom crepe was equally amazing. It was a savory blend of 3 or 4 different kinds of wild mushrooms (sorry, I don't know mushrooms very well) liberally stuffed into a thin perfectly browned crepe. The crepe was then covered in a rich mushroom creme sauce. The plating was simple, but then if there is one thing I can ding Wink on its the plating. But, I'd rather have an excellent tasting dish served plainly then a plain tasting dish served excellently (if you want that, go to Starlite). In addition to the veggie friendly dishes, I ordered a side of smoked salmon to get my meat on. The salmon came with rye crakers (not pumpernickle as the waitress/bartender claimed) but the waitstaff was accomodating to my hatred of rye toast and got me some bagel chips. The salmon was velvety and lightly smoked. It didn't have the heavy oily, smokey flavor of other varieties of smoked salmon, but I like my smoked fish a little milder than most. I was getting pretty toasted at the point, so I don't remember if we ordered dessert, but I'm thinking we were so stuffed at that point that we decided to forgo.

Laura: The food was incredible. I have come to expect nothing less from Wink. The portions are usually perfectly sized and they use local ingredients whenever possible. The menu changes daily. That night our macaroni and cheese contained slivers of mushrooms, so combined with the crepe it was a mushroom-tastic meal for me, but I ate every bite and it was delicious. Instead of dessert, we had another glass of wine. I went for Mariah's first choice of Malbec and to say it was rich would be an understatement. I then realized what time it was and that I needed to knock the wine back and jet.

Mariah: Laura left me at that point to get her hair cut (at 9pm on V-DAY!)

Laura: Ever go to get your haircut by a new stylist wasted? Yeah, probably not the best idea.

Mariah: In Laura's absence, several other friends joined me. Included in that group was my friend Harris who, aside from a brief encounter at Esther's Follies I haven't seen in years. We had yet another glass of wine (my memory starts to get really hazey at this point), then moved the whole group to Mean Eyed Cat. Harris claimed it "wasn't his scene" and left us for some douchey pick-up bar downtown. The rest of us enjoyed a couple of beers on the Cat's nice patio.

Laura: My snazzy new haircut and I met back up with the crew at Mean Eyed Cat where we finished the night.

Bottom Line: Incredible food, the best (european inspired fusion) restaurant in town, hands down

Mariah - 9.5 (10 if they had better plating)
Laura - 10 (Plating didn't bother me any. However, the strip mall exterior does. Lucky for Wink, I love this place enough to overlook outward appearances.)