One friend had the Gulf Crab Salad with butter lettuce, radish, grapefruit, avocado and crab croquettes. While I did not snag a bite of this beautiful dish, I was told that she was very happy with it. If the colors on the plate were any indication, I am sure it was delicious. Another friend had the Moroccan Vegetable Cous Cous with summer vegetables, tomato jam, cilantro, yogurt, almonds and ras el hanou. She said it was very good and was happy to have such an inventive vegetarian option. Another favorite was the Monte Cristo with jambon de paris, manchego, piquillos,| quince mustard, arugula and tomato salad with potato chips and pickle. The birthday girl said the sandwich was great and the house made chips were an crispy addicting side. Then there was the Windy Bar Beef Burger and Fries with caramelized onion, spinach, feta cheese, mustard aioli and house made pickles. Very satisfying and juicy.
Some of the other dishes I tried were the Safron Cavatelli with arugula walnut pesto, broccoli, peas, grana padano and poached egg. The pasta was house-made and well prepared. I also tried a bite of the Mussels and Clams with Fregula Sarda chermoula, chickpeas, zucchini, preserved lemon and piquillo peppers. The mussel I tasted was fragrant, well seasoned and plump. We split a selection of desserts and were not disappointed. I was especially pleased with the Cardamom Sugar Donuts with vanilla crema, candied cocoa nibs and Turkish coffee ice cream. There has been an incarnation of donuts on Fino's menu for years now, but this is the new and improved version. The donuts are bigger now compared to my last visit (look at the picture for comparison). This time around we have fully formed donuts instead of the donut holes of old. The candied cocoa nibs are a special addition and the ice cream helped to round it all out. We polished that off in mere seconds. The Boca Negra chocolate truffle had ras el hanout chocolate sauce, toasted almond sorbet and more of those delicious candied cocoa nibs. It was rich, dense, chocolatey and completely intoxicating.
The bar program at Fino, originally started by Bill Norris, has been famous since they opened. Currently headed up by Francisco Terrazas, the bar has something for everyone with a thirst. A friend ordered the 20th Century Cocktail (Beefeater gin, cocchi americano, tempus fugit creme de cacao and lemon) and the sip that I had was quite good. With it's gorgeous interior, attentive service, consistently phenomenal food and inviting patio, Fino has come up with the recipe for an unbeatable Austin classic. (Cathy)