Tasting Austin: La Condesa

So we FINALLY tried La Condesa for dinner last weekend. We had a great time with Lindsay and Chad (Opal was at the babysitter’s)!

We all loved the decor… from the amazing light sculpture above to the bright turquoise staircase leading up to Malverde. Our waiter was fabulous, and the drinks were wonderful. The food was spotty… some things were delicious, others were just okay.

(Please note that all these photos came from my iphone, so they’re not the best shots in the world.)

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We started with some ceviche: Atun con Sal de Gusano (yellowfin tuna, young coconut water, serrano and lime). This was okay, but not great. The tuna and coconut were both very mild; I would have preferred a little more oomph.

On the left are the chapulines – crispy toasted crickets. The boys were so excited to try this, and they loved it. They couldn’t really describe the flavor or texture for me, and I couldn’t stand to look at the dish, because at one point I swear I saw a little cricket leg, and it grossed me out.

Lindsay and I shared the tacos de acelgas, on the right. These were filled with swiss chard, white beans, pico de gallo and salsa verde. These really had potential… the greens were tasty, the salsas seasoned just right… but there was a very noticeable amount of grit in the greens. Yuck! Nothing is worse than biting into dirt… I set my greens aside and waited for something better to come.

On the right, you can get a glimpse of Chad’s drink, El Cubico. This was whole leaf-tobacco-infused Sauza Hornitos Reposado, Navan vanilla liqueur, lemon, grilled pineapple juice and mezcal essence, with a volcanic-saffron-infused salt rim. It was very complex, and you could really smell and taste the tobacco leaf in there. I didn’t care for it, but Justin and Chad adored it.

Speaking of drinks, I had La Clasica (sorry, no photo) – a basic margarita made with Sauza Hornitos Plata, Cointreau, lime juice and agave nectar, with a lemongrass-infused salt rim. It was lovely… so lovely that I had two.

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Lindsay tried the Passion Fruit & Spiced Mango Margarita (And can I say how surprised I was by that? Lindsay is a wine girl, through and through!), made with Sauza Tres Generaciones Reposado, ginger essence, passion fruit, spiced mango and lemon juice, with a pasilla-spiced salt rim. This was also very good, though too mango-ey for me. Or maybe it was the passion fruit. Either way, I was really digging these flavored salt rims.

condesa-e-drink

Justin opted for the Alma Blanca: habanero-infused Chinaco Blanco, ginger essence, aloe vera-lemongrass syrup, pineapple juice, fresh corn and hoja de hierba santa, with a hibiscus-rose infused salt rim. Wow… this one was so interesting, with a bit of a kick from the habanero.

The drinks were amazing… I’d be happy to visit La Condesa for after-work cocktails any day.

condesa-eskie

For his main course, Justin chose the barbacoa: spiced lambchop and shoulder baked in maguey leaf, esquites, cactus salad, and jalapeno-mint recado. The lamb was so tender and tasty, and the dish of corn was cheesy and flavorful.

condesa-chad

Chad decided on the Carnitas de Panza: berkshire pork belly, roasted jicama with bacon, avocado-chicharron salad, and salsa moranita. Holy moly… that’s a huge slab of pork belly, plus pork in two other forms on that plate! Let me tell you, though, it was wonderful. Decadent and fatty, but wonderful. I’m not sure how he ate all that and still had room for dessert.

condesa-linds

Lindsay decided on taquitos de camarones al pastor: shrimp, achiote-guajillo chile, grilled pineapple, onion and cilantro. So good. The chile sauce reminded me of red enchiladas in New Mexico… deep and dark and delicious.

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I had the taquitos de cochinita pibil: seville orange-marinated berkshire pork, banana leaf and pickled red onion. Wowza! This was my favorite thing of the evening… it was better than the pork belly, better than the perfect margarita, better than the chocolate dessert. I’m fairly certain that I will go to La Condesa and order nothing but tacos de cochinita pibil from now on. The pork had a great orange flavor and was so tender, and the pickled red onions on top complemented it perfectly. Seriously, these were some of the best tacos I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a lot of tacos.

condesa-lemon

For dessert, Lindsay and Justin shared the lemon meringue tart with blackberry sorbet. It worked out perfectly, as Justin loves lemon tart and Lindsay loves meringue. We all thought this was good, but wished it had been more tart, more acidic, more lemony.

condesa-chocolate

Chad and I shared the chocolate caramel tart with coconut ice cream. The tart had a crispy chocolate crust, a filling of perfectly gooey caramel, and a topping of hardened chocolate ganache. It was really good. I thought the coconut ice cream was a little bland, but still, a good dessert.

So dinner had its ups and downs… one of the downs came when the check hit the table… Yikes! Very expensive. I’d hesitate on having a full dinner here again, especially when my favorite parts of the meal were the tacos and the drinks… a perfect excuse to come during happy hour and have a light meal. There are still so many inventive cocktails on the menu to try, so we have to go back soon!

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