Sunday we met up with with our longtime friends Mitch and Donna and their darling two-year old Zella. It was great fun to hang out and catch up after a few busy months of not seeing each other. Zella brought her giraffe mask and we played a bit of peekaboo. Only later did I realize I’d been holding the mask upside-down so the giraffe horns were more like fangs. Oops.
Austin is booming with restaurants, and our neighborhood scene exploded in the three years we were away. I’ve nearly had accidents rubbernecking all the new businesses on the main road in our ‘hood, and they just keep coming. We decided to meet at the new-to-us nearby location of The Steeping Room, a place that’s quickly becoming a go-to staple. When The Steeping Room first opened in another part of town it was a wonderful addition with its offerings of scores of tea blends, traditional tea service, and a varied menu with choices from healthy to decadent. Now that it’s closer to our house I suspect we’ll be there with even greater frequency.
One of the reasons I love this place is because the menu is easy to navigate for people with dietary restrictions. I wrote a bit yesterday about the mentality of living without, and what I enjoy about restaurants like The Steeping Room is how they use more than the average amount of kitchen creativity to create beautiful meals that are delicious whether they are meat, vegetarian, or dairy or gluten-free.
While we waited for our friends to arrive, Paul and I started with spiced apricot scones served with jam, fig and port compounded butter, and clotted cream. I’m just starting to learn my way around gluten-free baked goods, and while the flavor of the scones was excellent, they were very crumbly, making it tough to spread the delicious spreads. We made do and polished them off. Paired with a pot of strong Earl Grey, it was a perfect start to our Sunday morning.
On Donna’s recommendation I got the latkes and gravlax, served with sour cream and berry gastrique. Sounds very fancy, and it looks pretty fancy, but it was super comfort food on a drizzly and chilly (by Texas standards, anyway) late September morning. As I sit here I’m thinking about how easy it would be to make a similar dish at home, though I’m not quite sure I’ll replicate the jasmine tea-cured gravlax.
When we eat tempting and delightful foods like this I don’t feel like I’m living without. I feel happy and lucky to have so many fabulous options just down the street.