La V (Austin)


I'm feeling extra nostalgic on this throwback Thursday, commonly dubbed as "TBT." As I cloak myself in a Parisian trench to avoid the Southern spring rain, I am whisked back to two summers ago, when I experienced a dreamy six weeks abroad without managing to gain one word of French vocabulary nor one pound of weight. Miracles, I tell you. Upon visiting Austin last month, the sought-after dinner spot on my and Jake's itinerary is a new bustling Eastside French restaurant, laV restaurant and wine bar. It opened right before I moved to Memphis, and I never found a moment to sit and enjoy the French fare and wines. Yet throughout this past year, I've watched laV's fame grow, with national publications rewarding its incomparable wine program, and Eater Austin repeating its must-try menu month after month.



While I wish I could call myself a wine connoisseur, I am not. Luckily for laV guests, you're paired with a sweet sommelier, who will pair you with a sweet bottle of French wine. We gave her our price range and preferred palate; and boom: pure bliss in a bottle. Jake and washed down multiple baguettes (almost every menu item manages to include its housemade loaves) with the vin de bourgogne.

Jake and I were more impressed by the small plate selection than the entrées on our February menu (which changes monthly). So, naturally, we ordered four small plates, and one entrée.

The classic, buttery, garlicky, basil escargot was a no-brainer. The crispy yet creamy composition was irresistible. laV has this French rustic recipe perfected, so please order it. I don't remember a better version since sitting on a Provence patio two years ago.

My favorite dish was the surf and turf. Rather than an expected filet and lobster, we enjoyed sweet scallops with crispy fried sweetbreads (a pork that Hog & Hominy in Memphis similarly masters). The contrast was divine, and the bright green pea salad was simply beautiful.

The short rib whole wheat garganelli provided a fantastic 1:1 ratio of tender beef and buttery housemade noodles, sprinkled with pine nuts. Mussels were light and fragrant of garlic and curried spices, though the crusty bread brought light to heavy very quickly as we soaked up the remaining broth...Rustic and refined, as the restaurant identifies.

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I was impressed by the eastern halibut's complexity without the need for a major carb component. The fishwas placed atop a mix of saffron crispy chick peas, clams, onions and peppers. The fish and peas were both buttery to the taste. The colorful ingredients were delightful to the eye.

I'm dying to go back -- if not to France, to the next best place: laV!