Mettle Celebration

Mettle

met·tle

/ˈmetl/
Noun

The ability to cope well with difficulties or to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way.

To celebrate the end of my first week at the new gig in a spirited and resilient way, the hubs and I decided to try a new restaurant called Mettle. True to the definition of the word, Mettle offered an exciting and creative menu, friendly staff, and a great wine selection.

Mettle Restaurant

Mettle is located at the very end of East 6th Street. It appears that the restaurant is part of a converted warehouse or industrial building. It is one of many establishments that is housed in this space. The fun play on the name, Mettle (Metal), is consistent with industrial decor. Mettle incorporates  minimalistic dining elements with local artistic pieces. I love the glass sculpture in the main dining room!

Mettle’s menu is classically based, but with a modern spin: tomato salad, beef tongue tacos, duck breast and star anise spaghetti, and steak with potato chip gratin. Food MelodyOut of the selections at the table, I thought the deconstructed beef tongue tacos were outstanding! Served with homemade tortillas, fresh escabeche, crème fraiche, and salsa verde, it was visually appealing and fun to eat. Tender, melt-in-your-mouth goodness! Beef Tongue TacosThe dessert menu was minimalistic by design (and indecipherable) with only a short description of ingredients. Our wait person was ready for questions and described each dessert in detail. I decided to order the macadamia, coconut, coffee, lime and my husband ordered the birch, sweet cream, hazelnut. They were both beautifully presented, but the birch and hazelnut dessert was wonderful. It tasted like a root beer float!DessertWe shared the meal with a bottle of 2009 Chateau Aney (which was very satisfying with a heavy meal), but they also offer a full menu of signature cocktails. The Mexican 86 was delicious! I didn’t think tequila and rose champagne would go together, but it works. I can’t wait to try the Rainey St. Mule on my next visit!

I thought the food at Mettle was well worth the visit. It can be expensive if you order drinks, apps, and a main course, but you do get a lot for the money. I would suggest you arrive early (before 7pm) as the restaurant fills up fast and it can be quite loud. Mettle also has a great patio so I foresee happy hours outside when the cooler weather arrives!

What is your recommended restaurant in East Austin? Drop me a line and let me know where you like to hang out!

Off the Beaten Path: ciboVino

ciboVino Winnsboro, TXWhile on my East Texas road trip a few weeks ago, I decided to take my Grandpa out for an “Off the Beaten Path” date. I love talking to him and hearing stories of his adventures. (Listen up-your grandparents are fascinating people. So, if they are still around—talk to them! My Grandpa traveled all over the world, helped build a hospital in Saudi Arabia in the 70’s, and did the carpentry in most of the buildings in downtown San Francisco. How cool is that?)

I am, by far, the most adventurous person in my family which is why my Grandpa and I get along so well. When I found a write up in Southern Living magazine on a restaurant in Winnsboro, TX, I knew he would be up for it.

ciboVino is a family-run, Italian restaurant located on the downtown square in Winnsboro, TX. Blink and you may miss it!  However, I was strongly advised by ciboVino’s website to call ahead and make a reservation. I was a bit amused by this, but I was sure glad of it after we arrived. The place was completely packed within half an hour!

Once seated, our well spoken, young buck of a waiter (the owner’s son, Brennan) told us all about the specials for the evening. They were featuring a bone-in veal chop with red potatoes and broccollini that my Grandpa could not resist. However, because I am obsessed with pizza, I went with my stand by: margherita pizza with sausage. If you make a decent pie, I’m willing to go back.

I have to say we were not disappointed.  The veal was perfectly cooked and very tender. The homemade pizza was thin, bubbled, and crunchy around the edges just the way I like it. Not the absolute best pizza I have had (that’s only in Italy!), but a solid choice in the area.ciboVino pizza

I was disappointed they did not offer a wine list, but they may not have the clientele to make it worthwhile. We were offered complimentary red or white wine, but the quality was not the best. However, ciboVino does allow guests to bring their own beverages and that seems to be the best option.

The owners, Rick and Sharon, have taken great care to incorporate the entire family into the business. It was great to see the family taking care of an obviously well-loved restaurant. My Grandpa is already talking about our next visit!

I get so caught up in what the city can offer that I forget there are many great places in small towns like Winnsboro. When you step off the beaten path you never know what you may find!

For more information on Winnsboro, TX check out the recent article in Texas Highways!

Off the Beaten Path: Los Pinos Ranch Winery

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Over the weekend I traveled to North East TX (Piney Woods for the Texas folk) to visit my family. I usually spend most of the weekend on the road traveling between towns to see everyone, but last weekend I found the time to visit a local winery in Pittsburg, TX, called Los Pinos Ranch.

I enjoyed a lovely butter lettuce salad with apples and goat cheese and tried the Vermentino, Viognier, and the Super Texican. Los Pinos does produce wine from its own vineyard, but also produces wine from grapes planted on three vineyards in West Texas.  They divide their wine into two categories: Sweet and Dry. I thought that was odd, but a lot of people I know like one or the other.

I have to say that I did not care for the Viognier at all. There was too much fruit on the nose for me and I found the smell overwhelming. However, I did like the Vermentino and thought it was a softer, more enjoyable wine to sip. The best of the three was the 2011 Super Texican. The Super Texican is 50% Sangiovese and 50% Cabernet. I only had a tasting, but that will be the wine I order on my next trip!

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Los Pinos offers other small plates and wood fired pizza in the rustic, Tuscan inspired dining room.  Live jazz is also a staple on Friday and Saturday nights. Unfortunately, I had to miss the live music.

Because I visited the winery in the winter it was too cold to sit outside. East TX tends to be a lot cooler than Austin! It was unfortunate as the outside seating area is very nice. I can imagine the spring and summer will be gorgeous when all the greenery fills in around the estate.Retouch 3

I am glad I had the time to stop by Los Pinos Ranch Winery. Los Pinos is relaxing, quiet, and definitely off the beaten path (two miles down a black-topped country road).  In an area saturated with fast food and chain restaurants, it was nice to have a “real food” and wine option. Cheers to finding a new East TX destination!

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Restaurant Jezebel Wine Pairings

1. Prince in his Caves, 2009, Scholium Project

2. Chateau Musar Rouge, 2004 and Louis Jadot Pouilly-Fuisse, 2011

3. Gaja Sito Monesco, 2009 and Castillo Matierra

4. Waugh Cellars Pinot Noir, 2010 and Eric Texier Viogner

5. Dominio Pingus Psi, 2009 and Kumeu River Pinot Gris, 2007

6. Sequoia Grove Cabernet, 2009 and Bibi Graetz Casamatta Rosso, 2011

7. Ilaria Malbec, 2010, Dr. Reid Vineyards

Restaurant Jezebel

In keeping with our annual tradition, my husband and I booked our anti-Valentine dinner the weekend after the official date. We gave up trying to get into restaurants early into our relationship and prefer to have a “regular” dinner date to celebrate Valentines. We are hip like that 😉

We visited Restaurant Jezebel way back when it was still located on Congress Ave and were very happy when the new location opened on West 6th Street. Not much has changed as I had to book a reservation a month in advance! The dining room is still very small, dark, and eclectic with gorgeous nude paintings. I know it doesn’t work for everyone, but I loved it. It was charming and romantic.

I heard it was more formal and they now offer only a 4 or 7 course tasting menu instead of an a la carte menu. We were there for a special occasion so we went all in and ordered the 7 course tasting menu with wine pairings. It’s definitely a lesson in food S&M when the chef has his way with you for 5 hours!

We started with sashimi, swordfish and mackerel, fried crab and moved into heavier dishes with pork belly, quail, kangaroo, and foie gras. I had too much foie gras in one dish and asked for something else. I was promptly brought a small plate of grilled fish and it was perfect. Chef Vora and his staff go out of their way to make sure you are comfortable.

Dessert was just as elaborate and included a selection from a mobile dessert cart. I had to try the strawberry macaroons and white chocolate bourbon truffles. I’ve had macaroons in France and these were so close I thought I was in Paris again!

I also thought the mobile cocktail cart was a nice touch. They will make anything you want table side. However, we went with the wine pairings and I have to say I was not disappointed. I enjoyed everything that was recommended to us.

I didn’t want to take fuzzy iPhone pictures of such beautiful food. I would recommend you visit Fed Man Walking, Tribeza, or Restaurant Jezebel’s website for nice photos of the kitchen and food.

This is a fine dining establishment and the pricing is in line with the level of service. You have to be comfortable with paying for an experience and view it as such.  It was fun, interesting, and the first time I have talked to my spouse for an extended period in quite a while (5 whole hours!).  I’m glad we did it!