Jeff Blank and his kitchen crew like to joke that other cooks must suffer from a "fear of cooking." That's because, for the award-winning chef, cooking is a kind of alchemy?an ambitious experiment that is sometimes fated to fail. But when it works, Jeff and his Executive Chef Kelly Casey transform fresh ingredients, often plucked from local farms and ranches, into piquant dishes adorned with housemade sauces, such as tomatillo white chocolate, mango jalape?o, and bourbon vanilla praline. Behind the kitchen, a stone smokehouse infuses ostrich, rattlesnake, and venison meats with dusky notes, creating entrees that have won them recognition for the Best Wild Game Dish from readers of the Austin Chronicle.
Diners take in the gustatory array on a patio and in a garden gazebo, surrounded by vegetable plants, flowers, and trees wrapped in petite nodes of light. Even the rustic, upscale decor?characterized by soft candlelight, red tablecloths, and vibrant paintings along exposed-stone walls?has earned acclaim, finding favorable mention in the New York Times' travel guide.
Taking traditional culinary techniques and squeezing them through a filter of modern influences, Nagoya Steak and Sushi refines its menu of familiar Japanese cuisine. Manning tabletop hibachi grills, chefs entertain their hungry audiences by juggling utensils and causing the grills' surfaces to spout flames while they sear orders of chicken, steak, and lobster. Back in the kitchen, another team of chefs sets about topping crispy fillets of red snapper with lime-chili sauce and glazing tuna steaks with teriyaki-balsamic blends.
Striving to create more delicate–yet equally enticing–dishes, sushi chefs fill plates with meticulously sliced sashimi and carefully folded rolls. While the maki selection features a number of traditional sushi-house staples, it also includes the restaurant's own custom-designed creations. Featuring such premium ingredients as lobster tempura, filet mignon, and individually steamed rice grains, these signature rolls offer a fancy dining experience akin to picnicking atop a blimp.
The Emerald Restaurant's quaint cottage, just minutes from Hill Country Galleria and Lake Travis, flings open its wooden doors to welcome diners into a fairy-tale-like milieu rich with Irish china, lace tablecloths, and fine crystal. Originally built as a private residence, The Emerald Restaurant has enjoyed 30 years as a community landmark under the ownership of the Kinsella family. Just like lunch in elementary school, most meals are presented on a silver platter, showcasing European-style and modern American cuisine including steaks, lobster, fish, and duck. The intimate space sets a romantic mood that frequently attracts wedding proposals and exchanges of everlasting-platonic-friendship rings.
Aesthetician Kelly Jacquin puts her Demologica Skincare certification to use in helping clients achieve clear, smooth complexions with her array of spa treatments. She specializes in all things skin, from gentler peels that exfoliate away roughened outer layers of skin to cleansing facials and eye treatments that return delicate skin to its balanced and bright state. Kelly also helps clients keep their newly polished skin looking nice with waxing treatments, spray tans, and makeup treatments that let them show off their assets without hiring their own independent auditor.
When the doors to III Forks steakhouse swing open, guests enter the sophisticated mahogany and marble interior of one of the city's top-rated, most exclusive restaurants. III Forks has an admirable selection of wines, including a 4,000 bottle wine cellar, and employs a knowledgeable sommelier to help guide guests through the array of offerings. To be recognized as one of the top steakhouses in the Texas capitol is no small feat, but III Forks takes their duty seriously, pushing out tender, meaty cuts to the business elite and couples looking to experience an upscale evening out. The wood, leather and luxurious finishes make the restaurant a fantastically elegant space to dine in for any special occasion, or just to treat yourself to the meal of a lifetime.
This Brazilian steakhouse in the popular, upscale Arboretum at Great Hills is not just a restaurant, but a cultural experience. The dining room is large, with white tablecloth-covered tables surrounding an extensive central salad bar buffet. Walls covered in frescoes of Brazilian life add to the ambiance, as does an extensive collection of wine bottles. Of course, with any good Brazilian churrascaria, the dining experience consists largely of skewered meats, though simple side dishes like polenta and fried plantains abound, and much of the meal is tinged with a South Texas spice profile that makes Estancia distinctly Austin. Carnivores swing by for the fourteen different cuts of meat, each grilled to order and served in abundance.