Our party of four arrived at 6:00 p.m. last Saturday evening and we got a table with no trouble. Service here is very thoughtful and eager to please. When I told our server I was interested in a rosé, he recommended the Chateau d' Escalan "Whispering Angel", Provence, France, which is a little dryer than the William Chris Rosé. With no prompt from me, he brought a sample of each wine for me to decide. His recommendation was spot on for my palate. My husband and one of our friends had the Live Oak Schwarzbier. I had a sip of the dark lager and was impressed with its toasted, smoky taste. We decided to start with a few appetizers. The Smoked Fish Dip was an in-house smoked amberjack with pea greens, shaved carrot, and pickled chile. The dip was a smooth and balanced blend and the lightly toasted baguette slices stood up well to it. We ran out of the baguette toasts, but chose to eat the rest of the dip with our forks before our server could bring more. We also had the "Angels on Horseback”, an appetizer of crispy oysters, pork jowl rillette, raisin rhubarb chutney, and pecan crème fraîche. This is usually served three to an order, but our waiter obliged us and made sure the dish had four. This was a good example of all the ingredients coming together seamlessly without overpowering one another. The oysters were delicately crisp and the chutney brought a slight sweetness to the bite.
For entrée, one friend had the Fish BLT which was grouper, smoked bacon, chile aioli, heirloom tomatoes, and butter lettuce and a side of slaw (all the sandwiches are served with a side of your choice). She thoroughly enjoyed it and her husband, who stole a few bites, proclaimed it was really good. I had the Crab Cake “Sammy” served with fried green tomatoes, tartar sauce, apple-jalapeño slaw with the herb salad as a side. First let's talk about the bun. It was a soft egg bun with a slight sheen of butter on top. It worked beautifully with the well-seasoned and nicely crisped crab cake. The subtle tartar sauce and the crunchy slaw brought even more flavor to this outstanding combination. My husband and our other friend had the Fish & Grits. The fish that evening was red snapper served with grits and aged cheddar, collards, MMK bacon, tomato vinaigrette, and a soft egg on top. I had one bite and thought it was well composed and very satisfying with perfectly cooked fish. While discussing dessert, our server commented that the pound cake and pot de crème go very nicely together, so, of course, we ordered one of each. The Brown Butter Pound Cake with mascarpone cream, lemon and pecan was a real treat. The cake seemed almost like it had been grilled or toasted on the outside since it had a delightful slightly crisp exterior with a moist inner texture. I loved the addition of mascarpone cream and lemon zest on top. The Milk Chocolate Pot de Crème with coffee chantilly was equally well received and was a nice contrast to the cake (just as our server described).
The market has a limited, yet ever-changing selection of fresh Texas Gulf fish. Texas Gulf Yellowfin Tuna (skinless, boneless), Texas Gulf Amberjack (skinless, boneless), Texas Gulf Brown Shrimp and Texas Gulf White Shrimp are currently listed on their website. I am looking forward to trying their recent Sunday brunch with menu items such as Butter Pecan French Toast and Low Country Benedict with crab cake. They offer Crawfish Saturdays for a limited time while crawfish are in season. Their outdoor front patio is cozy and pet friendly. Be aware that due to the small size of the restaurant, reservations are not accepted. There was a row of people waiting for a table when we exited close to 7:30 p.m. I imagine scoring a table might be easier during lunchtime. San Miguel and Stark have created a refined, yet authentic seafood restaurant with a Gulf Coast point of view, something that I think has not existed in Austin until now.