Dining del Lago
It's Not Just About Beer and Nachos Anymore
The Vineyard900 S. RR 620, A-106, 402-9855
Mon-Sat, 11:30am-3:30pm; 5-11pm; Sun, 11:30am-3:30pm
The month-old Vineyard restaurant is a lovely, comfortable room that belies its shopping-center location. The stained and polished cement floors gleam and the ceiling is covered with billowing fabric that creates the illusion of cool, sheltering tents in a Mediterranean oasis. Patrons enter the restaurant past a tall serpentine bar where they can enjoy signature drinks and nosh on tasty tapas. The indoor dining rooms are divided by a freestanding fireplace which should create an oasis of its own on cold, blustery days. Those who wish to dine outside are accommodated on a fan-cooled deck overlooking the rolling hills of Lakeway.
Chef Sebastian Weddle's menu is inspired by the various cuisines around the Mediterranean rim and the Vineyard serves lunch, dinner, and a Sunday jazz brunch. Lunch prices range from $6-$14, with some of the more interesting items being Kalamata Pasta ($12), a roasted Lamb Pita ($11), the Grilled Portobello Sandwich ($10), and a Trout Angelica ($14), grilled fish served over angel hair pasta and topped with crabmeat, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and a parmesan cream. The dinner menu is pricier, with tapas and salads ranging from $6-$13 and entrées that start at $14 and top out at $30 for paella for two. Brunch resembles the lunch offerings with the addition of fritattas and quiches ($8-$9), crepes ($8), and Blackberry Churros ($7).
So far, I've only sampled the Vineyard's tapas and found them to be first-rate. The Crab and Artichoke Crostata ($13) is a delectable hand-formed open-faced tart with a tender, flaky crust encasing lump crabmeat, chopped artichoke hearts, and fresh sweet corn cut from the cob. The Bruschetta Olivetta ($8) are six crisp little crostini topped with a salty black olive tapenade, a mellow Tuscan white bean puree, and tangy herbed goat cheese. We only wished there had been more of these wonderful little morsels to the serving. The Chorizo-Stuffed Artichokes ($9) were a real revelation, an artichoke lover's dream. Tender young artichokes are split in half and the centers filled with a mixture of mild, Spanish-style pork chorizo, roasted peppers, garlic, and Asiago cheese. The pieces are then battered and fried and served on a bed of field greens with a tangy garlic aioli, making them one of the best appetizers I've tasted in town this year.
If the quality of the appetizers is a reliable indicator, the Vineyard has a bright future in store. While the menu and wine list prices put the Vineyard in the same ball park as Hudson's on the Bend, it remains to be seen if the local crowds will embrace more restaurants in that price range. Due to the prices and the distance from my own neighborhood, it will have to be a destination restaurant for me, but a destination to which I'm eager to return.
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