Eddie V's Edgewater Grille
Four of Austin's most reliable downtown restaurants keep on pleasing
Reviewed by Virginia B. Wood, Fri., March 12, 2004
Eddie V's Edgewater Grille307 E. Fifth, 472-1860
V Lounge: Monday-Thursday, 4:30-11pm; Friday-Saturday, 4:30-12mid; Sunday, 4:30-10pm
Dinner: Monday-Saturday, 5:30-11pm; Sunday, 5:30-10pm
Happy Hour: Sunday-Monday, 4:30-close; Tuesday-Saturday, 4:30-7pm
Eddie V's docked at the corner of Fifth and San Antonio three years ago, providing a comfortable, clubby atmosphere in which to enjoy fresh seafood and prime steaks, wine, and cocktails. I'd reviewed the restaurant in its first year and been back a time or two for special luncheon events, but I hadn't really stayed in touch. All the buzz this past year has been about the appealing happy hour: great appetizers at great prices, occasional celebrity watching, and live jazz all worth looking into. So, a friend and I ducked into Eddie V's convenient downtown location one drizzly afternoon last week to sample the happy hour bill of fare. (We don't mean to disrespect the Arboretum location, and this is not to say the dinner menu didn't tempt us even though the prices have inched up since my last dinner visit, there were many inviting choices.) Our mission this visit was to check out the happy hour scene downtown for style and bargains. We were amply rewarded. There are some genuine bargains, the portions are ample, and the servers are friendly and well-informed.
The V Lounge is a dimly lit affair with a large oval bar surrounded by tall stools and plenty of regular-height tables. It's white table cloths, snug booths with individual table lamps, and a corner stage where such jazz musicians as Bobby Doyle, Mac Byram, and the Lucky Strikes ply their trade on specific nights. Based on our experience, the lounge is pretty quiet until about 6:30, and then the action (both the music and the noise level) really picks up. The designated happy hour menu boasts an embarrassment of riches, many for half price, and also lists all the wine selections offered by the glass. While some items the pound of Florida stone crabs, Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops & Sonoma Foie Gras, and Cold Water Lobster Tail are not part of the half-price deal, there are about 10 items chosen from a tantalizing list of appetizers, soups, and salads available for a pittance. More than enough selections to make a hearty and affordable meal.
Owing to the chilly drizzle outside, we started with a bowl of Maine Lobster & Shrimp Bisque ($3.25, half price). Paired with a loaf of hot, crusty French bread, the bathtub-sized bowl of bisque was rich and velvety, chock-full of sweet lobster chunks, and delicately redolent of nutmeg. While it bordered just on the edge of being too salty, the soup was warm and satisfying, plenty for two of us to share. Next up were the Broiled Gulf Oysters With Spinach & Artichoke Fondue ($4.98, half price) and the All Lump Crab Cake ($6.25, half price). The oysters were six plump beauties broiled in the shell with a spinach and artichoke filling so savory that my friend used hunks of bread to mop out each bivalve. Eddie V's takes great pride in their crab cake rendition, as it contains no breading, no cracker crumbs, no discernable filler. It's seemingly all sweet, delicate crab meat sitting in a pool of spicy lobster butter sauce. It's not bragging if you've got the goods to back it up, I say. It's a crab lover's delight.
After soup and seafood, we selected two warm salads and discovered some of the most fascinating flavor combinations on the menu. The Crisp Calamari Salad ($5.48, half price) offers expertly fried calamari drizzled with a Thai chile sauce and a spicy peanut sauce, paired with a dainty salad of tempura sugar snap peas, baby greens, and julienne threads of crunchy jicama in a vinaigrette with a hint of pineapple. The profusion of clean, well-balanced tropical flavors makes for a very refreshing dish. My salad choice was Hot Goat Cheese & Roasted Wild Mushroom Salad ($3.98, half price) on a bed of baby greens that included arugula and endive in a champagne vinaigrette. A crown of tangy goat cheese is melted over the tart greens and an earthy mushroom selection that included toothsome chanterelles, creminis, oysters, and shitakes. It's a substantial and sophisticated salad, as was the calamari. Pair either of them with a bowl of bisque, some oysters, or a crab cake, add a $7 glass of wine, and you're set for dinner for about $20! If you splurge on dessert like we did with the elegant Bread Pudding Soufflé ($6) and the rustic Apple Cobbler a la Mode ($5.95), ask several friends to join you or plan to get the much-needed takeout box.
Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter
If you want to submit a recipe, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org