Monday, May 5, 2008

Eastside Cafe

2113 Manor Rd
Austin, TX
(512) 476-5858

So my week of dating continued the next night after the debacle at Marakesh. This time it was with a gentleman we’ll call Bachelor #3. I was actually really excited to go out with Bachelor #3. We’d had a great first date at Habana (oops, forgot to write that review) and had spend hours talking on the phone all week. So when Saturday rolled around, I put on a sexy black dress, cleaned up my place, and sanitized the cat. I was also really excited that my date had suggested going to Eastside Café. I had eaten there several times as a teenager when visiting my grandparents (who had lived in Austin since the 1950’s) and had fond memories of the fresh food and eclectic vibe the place had. Despite being a co-blogger with a vegetarian, I hadn’t managed to make it back to Eastside Café since I’d moved back. So after our obligatory hey-how-YOU-doin make-out session, my date and I made our way to Eastside Café in his ginourmous pick-up truck (before you pass judgment, I’ll tell you he’s an antiques dealer and apparently a big truck is required).

Now I’ll tell you the parking lot to Eastside Café isn’t very large and we had a hard time finding parking. There’s a small lot in front that never has open spaces and a larger (but still small) lot in back. We drove his monstrous truck around the block a few times trying to find any spot we could wedge that crazy beast. Finally someone pulled out of the parking lot and we were able to maneuver the truck in (while cutting off an old lady who tried to steal the spot from us while we were maneuvering). I had called in reservations, but remembered as we walked up to the hostess that they had forgotten to ask my name. But despite the lost reservation, we were able to be seated immediately. Apparently Eastside Café is an old house that’s been converted into a restaurant. The place is like a catacomb of dining rooms. We were seated in the farthest back rooms, but it was cozy and quiet, unlike most restaurants in Austin which always seem a little too loud for my tastes (particularly when on a date).

Before I went, I had been instructed to order the baked brie appetizer, so when it came time to order appetizers, we readily ordered it. I also decided to order the ruby trout entrée and my date ordered the nights special a pork chop. The brie arrived quickly and we dug in with zeal. The cheese appeared to be a quarter of a brie wheel that had been cut and baked. Nothing special there. The cheese did, however, come with a spiced apple topping and the most amazingly wonderful crackers. It appeared that the crackers were actually biscuits that had been thinly sliced and baked. They are light, crusty, and were the perfect foil to the cheese. The spiced apple topping though good wasn’t anything amazing. It tasted like a fresher version of the Stouffers spiced apples you can get in your local freezer section (if you want to try this at home). The trout wasn’t too bad. It was fresh and covered in a béarnaise-like tarragon sauce. But they had grilled the trout and it definite char marks on it. Now I’m one of those people that doesn’t like char on my food. I don’t eat marshmallows that turn black, I don’t eat the black bits at the edges of brisket and fajitas, so the charred trout was kind of unappealing to me. The trout came with a baked sweet potato with brown sugar which I normally love, but again my food preferences got in the way of enjoying the meal. I usually prefer my baked potatoes, sweet or otherwise, to be cooked until soft but there is still some firmness to the flesh. The baked sweet potato at Eastside Café was sooo thoroughly cooked through that the inside was over-pulpy and had the consistency of mashed carrot baby-food. Now some people might like that texture, but I found it unappealing.

My date’s meal was equally unappealing. His pork chop, through skewered with a rosemary stem - one of my favorite grilling/presentation methods, I found the flavor of his chop rather unsavory (no comments from the peanut gallery). The pork chop was covered in a cloyingly sweet glaze that left the lingering flavor in my mouth of over-ripe tropical fruit. The texture of the chop wasn’t too bad. It was cooked well and through and wasn’t tough, but I just couldn’t get past the flavor.

We were going to try dessert there, but decided to get gelato instead. After just a lackluster meal, we felt we needed a light and yummy known quantity. We went to Puciugo, my favorite gelateria from Dallas that just opened at the new Hill Country Galleria (conveniently only 5 minutes from my apartment). We went back to my place, ate gelato and snuggled on the couch. A really great second date.

Which is why I was so amazed when Bachelor #3 never called back. A sent a text message saying how much I enjoyed the date and made the obligatory Wednesday post-date “Hey how are you” call, but never got a response in return. What’s up with that? I do know one of the cardinal rules of dating is if you’ve gone out less them a month (or a half dozen dates, whichever is less) you don’t owe them a call, a “break-up” talk or anything really. It’s a rule. However, when I break things off with a guy, I usually always let them know that a connection just isn’t there, or some other acceptable excuse. Becky said this was karma coming back to bite me in the ass for the gentleman a few months ago who seemed quite devastated when I broke it off with him (and I have to say I’m very nice, but firm, when I break things off with guys). And while I was very nice when I broke it off, I may have been rather callous by asking myself (and possible others) how could this guy have responded so poorly? We’d only been out a few times, we obviously didn’t connect (or at least I didn’t think so). but now, here I am in the same situation, mildly pissed, and wondering why this guy never called. Oh well, onto Bachelor #4.

Bottom Line: Fresh food though the execution could use some work

Mariah: 7