Today Lindsay and I shared our anniversary together. In order to celebrate our two years together as a couple, I took us to Wink, located on Lamar just north of 6th Street. For some reason we hadn't been to Wink yet, despite it being high on our to-do list (and many Best of Austin lists) of date-worthy restaurants for some time. One of the amazing things about Wink is their dedication to fresh seafood and produce from local producers, and their constantly (daily!) changing menu to accommodate the ingredients they have available.
We were still feeling a little full from a slightly-too-late lunch, so we forwent the 5 course Chef's tasting menu for a hand-picked 3 course meal. Narrowing our list down to only 6 unique choices was difficult considering the wide range of options available, but we eventually settled on our decision.
Arugula Salad - A delightful starter with oranges and a refreshing lemon cream dressing.
Tuna Poke - Even though this was the first course on the chef's tasting menu, I thought it was a little heavy to start with. The Poke was a bit under-salted, though eaten with the plantain chips it was perfectly balanced.
Dayboat Scallops - Incredibly tender, although a little too salty (even for me) at certain bites. The bright pink prickly pear cactus sauce was a very pretty and appropriately sweet counter-flavor, but we wanted more of it!
Steamed Pei Mussels -An ample bowl of very tender mussels in a white wine sauce with some shaved elephant garlic scattered throughout. I was a little disappointed that the jalapeno flavor didn't shine though more but pleased with the amount of mussels provided.
New York Strip - A thick and nicely cooked grassfed steak, but nothing about the plate really impressed me, with the possible exception of the incredibly flavorful kennebec potatos.
Seared Foie Gras - We both voted this the best plate we had. Served on a slice of brioche with a sweet almond crumble in a pear port reduction on the side. I'm not a huge fan of Foie Gras, so the meat itself didn't excite me (but Lindsay thought it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious), but the brioche provided nice body, and the sweet nuts and pears combined well to make the dish exceptional. The pear port reduction was such a nice sweet contrast, we were one step away of licking it off the plate for dessert!
Overall the waitstaff and ambiance was very good. Our waitress was rather brief and unenthusiastic, and didn't describe the first course she set down, but the front of house manager delivered the rest of the dishes to us with a detailed description and a smile. I received a very considerate confirmation call on the day of our reservation, and despite my failing to mention our anniversary (much to Lindsay's disappointment, they typically make unique menus), they were eager to satisfy my request for a table with some ambient light for pictures.
We were very pleased with our visit, but had a couple of critiques. Even though Wink prides themselves in being an "un-pretentious white tablecloth parlor," we both felt that the decor inside and the external face of the restaurant left a little to be desired considering we were paying $15-$30 per plate. While the ingredients used were highly local and fresh, often the dishes didn't quite come together to give you the "oh my god this is amazing" reaction (more of a "wow this is really good" reaction). I found nothing really wrong with any of the dishes but was only impressed with the foie gras.
We certainly plan on returning to Wink. Their constantly changing menu and intimate atmosphere make for a very romantic date night, but next time I'll be sure to let them know ahead of time what we are celebrating in order to stay out of trouble :)