The Austin Chronicle

ARRO Media Tasting Party in Tarrytown

By Kate Thornberry, August 10, 2012, 1:29am, On the Range

As part of the benefits of my big time food media honcho status, I was invited to a private tasting party for the restaurant ARRO that will be opening at some time in the future on Burnet Road, in a space formerly occupied by a diner.

(If you read this blog, you will know that I am often sadly vague on the details. I am also very near-sighted. There might be a connection.)

Anyway, this party was in a really nice home in Tarrytown with a spectacular kitchen! Unfortunately as much as I am sure everyone would enjoy a photo of the spectacular kitchen, I didn't get a shot of it because it was full of people partying, thus obstructing the view of the awesome refrigerator and stoves.

All the food was created by the Chef Drew Curren and his crew, and there were cocktails by Beverage Director Billy Caruso, as well as desserts by Pastry Chef Mary Katherine Curren. These are the very people who will be doing these jobs at ARRO, so it was a culinary preview. I talked for a long time with Chef Curren, and he said that he loves to get feedback about the proposed menu before they open. Plus, I have to say, I really think this man just loves to feed people. He was in his element and I would have to say I think he was the star of the party!

Of course, with my background and occupation, and my nose up in the air all the time, being all totally spoiled by all the wonderful food I get to eat (I mean face it, I am like Caligula lying on a couch with genius chefs offering me fabulous bites of food day and night once in a while) it can be a little difficult to impress me. But!

The food was great! Impressive, impressive food. If this blog post were a movie poster, it would have a big color picture of a tureen of lobster bisque with fresh chives floating on it, and the critic's quote would be me, saying:

"Impressive, impressive food." – Austin Chronicle

All these dishes are going to be on the menu at ARRO, so pay attention! The lobster bisque was fresh and sweet and light, with plenty of lobster chunks. As I tasted I thought, it would probably be morally wrong for me to drive 20 miles round trip from my house to ARRO just to have a bowl of this soup. But I would do it anyway.�

The scallops Provençal were perfectly cooked, crisp on the outside and tender and - dare I use this overused word? - succulent within. There was also a salad made of amaranth greens, bacon, marinated and roasted mushroom, bleu cheese, and poached eggs that was incredible. I have never (knowingly) had amaranth greens before, and I have to say that I really liked them. They reminded me of lamb's quarters.

There were three desserts: a deep chocolate torte with chocolate glaze and honeyed almonds, a carrot cake, and a lemon curd tart with blueberries. I liked the lemon curd tart best; I think, yes, now that I reflect upon it, I could eat a whole one, all by myself. Yes. The torte was extremely good, especially for such … what is the word I want? Well what I am trying to say is, flourless chocolate torte has kind of been done to death, and it's a little passé, a bit out of style. But this one was stylish and edgy and brought new life to the concept! Yes, it was that good.

Much as I hate risking hurting anyone's feelings, Chef Curren did say he wanted feedback, so I will have to say that the carrot cake did not make the grade. It was too heavy and dense – almost damp. Also it had green bits in it that I think were probably carrot greens, and they were bitter. But mostly the texture was just not acceptable.

I think in my vague way that it is a good idea to open a French provincial place (for that is what ARRO will be, if I didn't mention it) on Burnet Road. Burnet Road is crying out for a French restaurant, because driving over to the Eastside is kind of a haul from there.

I made an effort to have a nice time at the party, despite the fact that I am an off-putting weirdo, and I did have a very nice time! In fact, "make an effort" is my new motto!

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