Farm to table South American restaurant El Arbol in Austin, Texas blew me away this past weekend. It has been awhile since I’ve experienced a meal where EVERY dish was amazing and El Arbol’s Chef Chad Dolezal manages to do just that. Not only did each dish have the perfect degree of tenderness, the flavors were superb. The oak wood grill is evident in the flavor of each dish and brings a smoky tinge to each dish. This is definitely on my list of places to return when back in Austin!
The Pulpo a la Parrilla had the perfect tenderness and managed to avoid the pitfalls of having a rubbery texture that is so often found with octopus. It was quite delicious with just a hint of spicy. The Pulpo sat upon a crunchy slice of charred fennel and a slice of soft potato amidst a tasty salmorra (a smoky tomato and garlic sauce).
This was my first time experiencing Anticucho de Corazón, beef heart, and I was beyond impressed by the tenderness and smoky flavors. Dipping the thinly sliced beef in the tangy balsamic vinegar and with a piece of the caramelized red onion led to the perfect bite which was just awesome goodness dancing in my mouth. It tasted best when straight off the grill, but I was pleasantly surprised that the flavors still remained as tasty even after it cooled down.
Whomever discovered that fish and chorizo taste amazing together needs a Nobel prize! Mero con Patatas a la Riojana, a crispy grouper that was perfectly flaky and juicy with a blue-cheese type sauce atop it which melted into the fish itself. The potato and chorizo combination was spicy and crunchy, like it had been cooked in a cast iron skillet and then scraped out to provide that perfect crust.
The fat on the Falda de Cerdo is caramelized goodness and in combination with the tender meat and sweet reduction, led to very satisfactory melting of flavors in my mouth. The risotto had nice earthy flavors that complemented the pork belly well.
The rare grilled Ojo de Bife was just an absolutely amazingly tender piece of meat which had a smoky savory flavor in combination with the chimichurri sauce . And just plain big.
Even the Repollitos de Bruselas where tasty! Tasty and crispy brussel sprouts with a hint of lemon. The burnt leaves were my favorite.