Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cafe Blue

8714 Lime Creek Road
Volente, Texas
(512) 996 - 8188

I feel like I've always had a restaurant conundrum here in Austin. We live next to one of the most beautiful lakes in Texas, Lake Travis. But for years, if I wanted to treat out-of-town visitors to a meal overlooking the lake, I had subject them to a crappy menu. I would feel ashamed of my city, wherever we ate on the lake, while constantly apologizing for the objectionable quality of the food.

When my Dad told me he had found a great, new place to eat on the lake, I cringed in disbelief. I thought, 'Austin is just can’t support a place that has great food and a great view. It has to go messing up one or the other.' But, I love my Dad, so I decided to humor him one Saturday and meet my parents for (a very early) dinner. Apparently when your parents turn 65, five o'clock stops being happy hour and starts being dinner. Besides, it was a beautiful day, like every day has been since it stopped raining. A drive by the lake would be love. Plus, I had a secret, crafty, ulterior motive. I wanted my parents to spend some one-on-one time with my new boyfriend away from the hoards of family we always have around at holidays.

I turned on some indie rock, set the car to paddle-shift manual mode, and programmed in the location on my GPS. When I looked at the map, it seemed like this place was just past 620 on 2222. It would take us a half hour max to get there. After we crossed over 620, I told the boy, "pull up the map on the GPS so we don't pass it." He laughed at me and said "I think we have a ways to go." To which I replied, "Poppycock! It can't be far." But we continued to drive. And drive. And drive. And drive some more. Finally, after a solid 45 minutes of driving, we reached the ends of the Earth, I mean Volente, where Cafe Blue is located.

When we approached Café Blue, we were instantly confused about where we were supposed to park. There were two driveways, one pointing down towards the lake with the official Café Blue sign, and one pointing up a very steep hill that said Café Blue parking. Being lazy, and knowing the Café was on the water, we opted to try the low road. There was a parking lot at that lower level, but there a big sign that said it was reserved for the Marina next door to Café Blue. Um, how would they know? We opted to be.. safer.. and parked (where everyone else had parked including my very rule abiding father) on the steep sloping drive down to the parking lot. You’ll thank me for that tip. Trust me. Well, we were parked, but we didn’t see a restaurant. We did see a large statue at the start of a rock stair path leading down and decided to give it a try. Down we climbed on steep rocky stairs, over tree limbs, under branches. The boy commented, “this place is well hidden” to which I replied “yeah, don’t bring Grandma here, geeze!”. The bottom of the path finally opened onto a wooden deck with a tin roof where a hostess greeted us. It was a harrowing experience, but we had made it.

Café Blue is nicely situated on the waters of Lake Travis, backed by a giant rocky hill (which we had just climbed down). There isn’t any indoor seating, it is basically a giant covered deck. But do you really need anything else when you’re eating by the lake?

I was hot after that climb and ordered a frozen Margarita (or two) and settled in with my family and my menu. It was (around) Mother’s Day so I gifted my mom with 2 new vegetarian cookbooks. She’s recently gotten on the farm CSA bandwagon but calls me about once a week “Mariah, I got XXX veggie in my basket, what do I do with it”. I think it was really more a gift for me, this gift of her silence, but whatever. We can both win from a present can’t we?

Café Blue has a large selection of delectable sounding appetizers, so the boy and I decided to order 3 or 4 and share them so we could try more. The Coconut Shrimp was really delicious. But then, can you tell me if you’ve ever had bad coconut shrimp? Its deep fried shrimp in coconut. The only thing that would make it fattier would be to coconut batter bacon wrapped filet mignon.


The ahi tuna left a lot to be desired. The tuna just wasn’t all that fresh and it ended up being rather stringy. I had one piece then let the hoover, I mean the boy, finish that one.


My favorite item were the Aloha sliders. I love me some pineapple, and adding it to a burger (or pizza) makes me even happier. These soft little sliders were sweet and savory all at the same time. The boy didn’t care for them, but I say too bad to that. It left two for me!


My mom ordered Antonio’s Stuffed Shrimp, crab stuffed shrimp topped in a garlic cream sauce. Those were pretty tasty. I would totally go back and order them. My dad ordered Shrimp Brochette, jalapeno stuffed shrimp wrapped in bacon. Those were delicious too. But while both were good, they were nothing outside the ordinary, which is kind of how I felt about all of Café Blue’s food. Good but nothing spectacular. That being said, it is leaps and bounds better than most of the other restaurants around the Lake. I will definitely be returning now that the weather is nice.

As we finished up our meal, I was secretly dreading the climb back up to the parking lot. When we left the restaurant, that’s when we discovered the secret to Café Blue. You don’t have to climb up and down a trail to get to it, it has a funicular! I’m sorry I didn’t think to take a picture of it, but it’s really spectacular. You stand on the platform and are carried up the side of the hill to the parking lot. It is seriously, seriously awesome. Totally worth the trip (and that, my friends in tip #2 – you’ll thank me later for that one too).

Bottom Line: Decent food by the lake, and a funicular!!

Mariah ~ 7