So why this picture instead of the tasting menu? Well, there was a ton of delicious food and I would need two pictures for the menu, yes it looks fuzzy, but if you click in and look at the bigger picture you'll notice that I wasn't actually focusing on the wine.
I'm going to start off with an apology, I will not be able to describe all of the wonderful yummy food I had at this food blogger event. Shoreline was very generous with taste after taste of what seemed like their entire menu. I had assumed we finished our tasting during the appetizer stage. When they started making some noise about "are you ready for the entrees" and " we'll be sampling all of the desserts" I realized I was in some serious trouble. My little brain doesn't have the capacity to remember the details of every dish. So, for this post I will put up groups of pictures and post some highlights.
Just a bit of a preamble for those that don't know Shoreline. Shoreline is one of my wife's favorite restaurants, it's has been known to be one of the "classy" places to go and on my one visit a few years ago it felt a bit "stuffy". Don't get me wrong, it was great food, the crowd was a bit older and the food tended to be a bit more "traditional/classic fancy". Either way that has clearly changed, Chef Scotty Szekretar is new to Texas and has brought a lot of new ideas and great creativity to the menu. I think he's done a great job of keeping the current patrons happy and fusing some of the "hippy" elements of Austin. For instance, he tries to keep local produce and is a proud member of seawatch which has granted Shoreline the title of "sustainable seafood restaurant" a first in the south of US. A very Austin type thing to do. Pastry chef Taff Mayberry brought some very yummy desserts that everyone oohed and ahhed over. Despite my challenges with dessert I enjoyed the selection, my only regret is I didn't get a chance to snap a photo of the pastry chef who garnered many compliments from everyone around the table. Sherry (pictured above) and Jette helped get us all together and hosted the evening's event.
Before going into food (I know I'm stalling), I wanted to give a shoutout to my fellow foodies for the evening. I happened to be the token male, I'm told male food bloggers are rare (really?). I had a delightful time trading stories, learning about food photography and local PR from my new friends. I also learned a lot about cultural differences, hygiene, magic markers and having kids, if you're laughing it's because you were there, and no, if you weren't there then it's an inside thing, you wouldn't understand. I enjoyed the event immensely it's a lot more cozy when there are only a handful around a table instead of a herd of us tripping over each other to take pictures. Cheers to Shoreline, Jette and Sherry for bringing us together for a wonderful evening.
I have to say this is a really hard post to write, there's just so much stuff to show off and all of it was amazing. I had the fortune to have a lot of natural light so no washed out pictures (until dessert) this go around. Let's start with salad type stuff. From left to right: Local Microgreens salad, Chipotle chicken salad (not on menu), Beets 2 ways. I loved all three, but I found the beets to be the most interesting. The roasted red beets had a wonderful subtle flavor and a really soft texture which was contrasted by the marinated goden beets, that had more of a sour note and a nice snappy crunch. I think the duality of dish in flavor, texture and color made this a fun dish for me. I underestimated the bagel, @abroylesa cut the bagel apart and we were surprised to see it was toasted with a bit of brie sandwiched inside. Very tasty indeed.
It's hard to come up with a good logical grouping for the feast but I think the next grouping is the "fried" appetizer selection. All three of these were awesome so I have no choice but to touch on all of them. I couldn't resist composing the calamari picture to be some sort of monster pick "RAWR". The thai chili aioli was a wonderful change from the usual sauces served with calamari. I usually use calamari as my benchmark for a restaurant, I'm happy to report Shoreline passed with flying colors, the calamari was perfectly tender, nice light batter and not greasy. In the middle we have the King crab twister (crab sushi roll wrapped in potato and fried). Delicious! This dish was gobbled up very quickly. I've done a tempura roll before this one is very different with the use of the potatoes giving the role a nice "soft" crunch as opposed to a battered fried crunch. Finally, we have the crab cakes, obviously very popular because by the time I got to take a picture it was mostly gone. I like the salty flavor from the caviar in the aioli.
No logic here on this next grouping and I love duck confit as much as the next guy, but the tuna tartar topped with avocado and wasabi tobiko was so good. I got to the plate a bit late as the last of the taro chips were a little soggy but the tuna was superb. The dressing used was very tasty (was there sesame oil? something fragrant there) but not overwhelming, it imparted a rich feeling, probably thanks to the avocado.
Rounding out the appetizers we have Alaskan King crab legs and Seared scallops with smoked tomatoes and local micro pea shoots. Crab legs were wonderful, not too salty as I usually encounter at restaurants. The winner here was the scallops, it's easy to mess up scallops, simplicity seems to be the best way. The addition of the sauce, greens, and tomatoes in no way took away from the star of the dish because of their subtle contributions of flavor. Of course the scallops were also cooked perfectly, nice browned outside and a perfect medium rare inside. If I had to rule a favorite for the night thus far, I would probably say this was it.
Now I know what your thinking. "Wow, that's a great tasting menu, I'm glad you're done yammering, ok time for me to check twitter and get back to work." Yeah that was me too. Apparently I was wrong as the announcer booms over the loud speaker "now that we're all warmed up. LETS GET READY TO RUMBLEEEEEEEE!". Ruh-Roh.... (Ok there was no announcer, but I heard it loud in clear in my head.)
I managed to limit my pictures to three shots for the entrees. That said, the three represented a thorough representation of many of the entrees and sides on the menu. So on the left we start with Braised beef short ribs, no surprise very tasty and tender. The sauce was not too sweet, some folks over do the sauce and it almost becomes syrupy, not here, excellent balance. Granted I've never tried my hand at short ribs (noted for future bento) so I don't have much room to be critical in any direction. The next two pictures are actually the same thing. The middle is the full plate served to us, a selection of: Sesame seared tuna, Fried Potato gnocchi with truffle cream sauce, Pan roasted halibut with fried tomato coulis, sauteed swiss chard, Shoreline "firecracker" wild gulf shrimp, and chilean sea bass with saffron tomato butter. (whew) and on the right is the little bite plate I put together for myself, which includes wasabi mashed potatoes with roasted asparagus. All of it was unbelievably well executed. Perfect flavors nothing over whelming and a large array of seafood. The halibut was perfectly tender, the shrimp was a delightful spicy pop, and who doesn't love wasabi mashed potatoes. My favorite on this plate was the chilean sea bass, my first comment, of the sauce "I taste saffron" our host replies "yes there's a tiny bit of saffron in the tomato butter", mmmm tomato butter... with saffron, drool. I'm got the hint that Chef Scotty wanted to highlight his well earned, "sustainable seafood restaurant" title.
At this point I'm on the ropes pummeled by all the great food around me. The booming voice over head screams, "FINISH HIM" huh? double ruh roh....
Dessert. Not just one dessert, everything they had on the dessert menu. If you've followed me at all you know that I'm not a big dessert fan. Sweets don't really do it for me and I really don't like chocolate or ice cream. However, I always try everything in front of me and although I am not a fan of dessert, I can appreciate artistry and flavors. There's just too much to post on this section and I didn't even get pictures of everything. I will talk about my top 3 favorites and just let you look here for their dessert menu and see if you can match up the pictures.
For my top three I start with #3: Rice pudding sushi style, a very imaginative way to present rice pudding, the dessert gave you a textural expectation of eating a sushi roll, except it's sweet, the mango and strawberry gives you a nice accent to the creamy sweet rice. #2 Caramel apple bread pudding, it's served in a applejack brandy caramel. I'm not sure there's much for me to say here other than yum. Finally #1 Shoreline creme brulee, topped with an almond tulle and fresh fruit. The creme brulee was done perfectly, melt in your mouth creamy and no trace of any eggs scrambled. Without a doubt these three broke my typical dessert defense wall.
And the rest:
Sorry about the picture format, I know for some of you the three pictures on a line actually looks like 2 pictures stacked on top of 1 picture and text. Try expanding your window a bit.
Again, I had a great time at Shoreline, I think I owe my wife a trip back so she can reconfirm this as a favorite, it's certainly on my list. Thanks again to Chef Szekretar and Chef Mayberry for the sharing their wonderful food with me. Thank you to my fellow bloggers for an enjoyable night of conversation it was a good way to end a stressful day.
I'll post the links of the other bloggers in attendance as I find their posts on this event. Now onward to haggis, then I promise, back to the bentos.