Helmed by Executive Chef Rene Ortiz and Pastry Chef Laura Sawicki, La Condesa was recently nominated for a 2010 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in the country. Inspired by the hip, bohemian Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City, La Condesa serves contemporary Mexican cuisine with traditional regional influences. La Condesa also features Austin’s largest premium tequila selection with over 100 varieties of 100% blue agave tequila as well as a host of innovative specialty cocktails. Drawing on the bold flavors and vibrant colors of Mexico City, La Condesa provides an energetic atmosphere with creative, accessible cuisine in the heart of downtown Austin.
La Condesa features four delicious kinds of guacamole. For this interview they let me sample their VIP platter which features all four kinds of guacamole and four kinds of salsa.
– Traditional guacamole
– Chipotle & toasted almond
– Pomegranate seeds, queso fresco, and toasted pumpkin seeds
– Green apple & crab
Thinly sliced pacific amberjack with ginger-chile water and morita oil. Topped with baby cilantro.
My camera does no justice to how beautiful this dish is. The dish looks like it’s made for royalty. The ginger chile water and morita oil looks like liquid gold.
The pacific amberjack typically has a strong fishy taste but La Condesa keeps it under control and it pairs nicely coated with the morita oil. The additional of thinly shaved fried shallots adds a crunchy contrast to the soft fish.
Hongos y huitlacoche
Wild mushrooms, huitlacoche, yellow corn, farmer’s cheese,
queso chihuahua, epazote, and truffle oil.
The secret in this dish is the huitlacoche, which is corn smut. A gnarly, gray-black corn fungus long savored in Mexico. It was once a infection that farmers fought to prevent but now treasured. Huitlacoche has become an exquisite delicacy that is both nutty and earthy with a hint of fruity sweetness. I was plesently surprised to discovered that Chef Rene incorporates it into his dishes at La Condesa.
Epazote is a well-known Mexican herb that has a particular pungent flavor.
Prince edward island mussels, tomato guajillo chile broth, toasted garlic, and grilled bread.
I love mussels, it’s my goal to try every single restaurant’s mussel dish in Austin.
Camarones En Adobo
Grilled head-on shrimp, mole guajillo, sweet fried plantains, rice, and black beans.
Slow roasted pork belly, smoked berkshire ham, arugula, swiss cheese, habanero mustard, and pickled jalapeños. The bread is smoothered with toasted garlic. If you are a clean eater, this torta is not for you. I had garlic and pork belly juice running down to my elbows. Happily, of course.
Helados De La Casa
Pineapple sorbet, fresh rum-piloncillo pineapple, and caramel corn.
Hoja santa-scented semifreddo, brandied cherries, chocolate sauce, candied almonds It’s incredible how detail orientated Chef Laura is. Do you see how the brandied cherries were cut into perfect little cubes?
Chile-spiked warm flourless chocolate cake, caramelized bananas, and brown sugar-banana ice cream. Chile and chocolate is a perfect pair and it’s wonderfully demostrated in this Spicy bocanegra. You get the creaminess of the chocolate cake and then a kick at the end.
I’ve never been a fan of bananas. They’re mushy and unappetizing but Chef Laura adds a crunch by caramelizing sugar on top. And the banana ice cream is delicious.