Although I have attended a very swell fundraiser for The Creative Fund on the second level - up at Malverde - I had never been to, i.e., dined at, La Condesa. Until Monday. [And I actually did that early Monday morning swim I mentally committed to on Sunday night after the over-indulgence weekend - part of my Olympic week activities...something to help justify the grueling week ahead of rigorous study of wining and dining.]
And though La Condesa sort of qualifies as a "chain" -- there is that location in Napa Valley after all -- culinarily insightful and hard (food) grader friend (Melissa) had La Condesa on the maybe-a-place-to-go list when I had to recommend food venues in Austin for a visiting food-focused Londoner. It was high time I actually walked in the door and checked it out.
Well, just as I love everything there is to love about Mexican breakfast, this really is the kind of food I could eat almost every day. Like that array of guacamoles...lump crabmeat and diced apple being a favorite.
The proclivity to this kind of food may have to do with just how light and fresh and evocative the ingredients are, such as mango, jicama, "epazote-grilled carrot" for a salad, and a torta with "adobo-braised beef short ribs, black bean purée, arugula, queso mixto, pickled jalapeño, salsa chipotle." I had the roasted chicken salad - reminder of salads of my Junior Year in France past...but nothing like those salads really at all: "rotisserie chicken, local arugula, cabbage, escarole, green beans, jicama, radish, corn, grape tomato, avocado, queso fresco, mustard vinaigrette."
(Paris trip) Amy, who dashed downtown to join me, had tacos "Acelgas" - "spinach, giant white butter beans, pico de gallo, toasted garlic, salsa verde." Amy pronounced the butter beans very well executed and the sides of beans and rice out of the ordinary. My salad was as light and as fresh as it sounds, and the rotisserie chicken nothing like (i.e., much tastier than) the usual standby rotisserie chicken I resort to many nights - alternating between that of Randall's (bleah) and Central Market (better).
At lunch La Condesa is definitely a downtown crowd, the work lunch I had forgotten about during my current sabbatical of sorts at the home office (where I am most days for lunch eating Pepperidge Farm Goldfish in front of a Food Network show as a prelude to (mostly) healthy real lunch).
I want to give La Condesa a try at night - all aglow and with the evening vibe of downtown Austin going on - and a nice bottle of rose on the table. But it is definitely a place I need to try again - and maybe even again and again.
Next: "Twofer Tuesday" -- Foreign & Domestic and Aviary