The chefs at La Pâtisserie by Oven-Fresh Delights satisfy sweet and savory cravings with a menu of handcrafted French-style pastries, sandwiches, and desserts. The Paris-Brest is a traditional dessert inspired by the Tour de France that fills a ring of pastry dough with rich hazelnut cream to resemble the tire of a bicycle or the donuts on strings used to train cyclists. A thick crust bookends raspberries suspended in whipped cream in the framboisier, and long prisms of succès praliné embed sweetened nuts in buttercream sandwiches. Letting influences from French kitchens shine through all the while, cooks stir pots of rich béchamel sauce and assemble croquet-madames, open-faced stacks of brioche, black-forest ham, and three types of cheese. Butter twists into savory dough for croissants, and from the oven drift scents that hint at spinach and leek quiches.
Today's Groupon gets you $60 worth of French cuisine for $30 at Aquarelle Restaurant Français, the elegant restaurant the Austin Chronicle calls "one of a handful of restaurants bold enough to offer rabbit, sweetbreads, and other organ meats to the sometimes squeamish Austin palate." It serves gourmet cuisine, such as black truffles and fresh duck foie gras, in a romantic turn-of-the-century home in downtown Austin.
A historic marker may be all that's left of the original Alexander's Distillery, which washed away in a flood in 1865, but that's not to say that the current reincarnation doesn't aim to recreate its predecessor's ambiance. Amid traditional decor elements such as dark, rich woods and scrolled silver platters, guests dine on elegant dishes from a seasonally rotating menu. Entrees have included everything from coq au vin to Black Angus tenderloin filet, which pair perfectly with desserts such as crème brûlée. Alexander's also offers prix-fixe chef's choice menus that include an appetizer, salad, entree, and dessert for each guest, with optional wine pairings available for those who know the proper way to pull out a wine cork using their teeth.
Founded by sisters Anni Zovek and Piroska Althauser, the two-story European Bistro houses a fleet of linen-topped tables and booths adorned with Hungarian, German, French, and Eastern European cuisines. Red-brick and wood-paneled walls serve as the base layer for the restaurant's rustic, Old-World character, enhanced by antiqued paintings, chairs reminiscent of 19th-century Europe, and a special table reserved for members of the Grimm brethren.
On weekends, an accordionist charms ears with German, French, and Hungarian tunes while patrons savor such entrees as wiener schnitzel, hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls, and duck liver. Meat-free fare includes tofu steak and vegetarian paneer cheese goulash. For larger groups, the eatery also boasts a banquet room that can host up to 175 diners.
The chefs at the newly opened French Quarter Grille spice up the catfish entrees, seafood gumbo, and grilled meats that populate a menu of authentic Cajun specialties. Diners can acclimate tongues to French-influenced flavors with a starter of crawfish beignets—fried, fluffy pillows dunked in a spicy jalapeño-and-roasted-corn tartar sauce ($9.95 for dinner; $8.95 for lunch). Attentive servers whisk steaming helpings of blackened-catfish gumbo spooned over dirty rice ($15.95) to white-cloth-draped tables before going back to the kitchen. Grillers blacken the rib-eye pontchartrain, smother it in shrimp, crab, and crawfish, and douse the lot in a mushroom brandy cream sauce ($29.95). Patrons can size up peppered pork tenderloins, which are flame-licked over a leftover science-fair volcano before being awarded a mango-pineapple chutney ($16.95). Diners devour forkfuls amid golden walls as the glow from a chandelier reflects in French Quarter Grille's gilded mirror.