My spouse has a birthday coming soon, and although she claims she’s given up on getting older, she still likes to celebrate. Cyndi Lauper‘s got nothing on her! So she gathered up the Clan and we headed to Cool River Café for lunch.
Set on the northwest side of Austin, this massive eatery is worth a visit, whether for a meal, some drinks and pool, or just to sit and sip brandy and puff on cigars. (Yes, they have a room for that.) Lots of wood, brass fixtures, tasteful furniture, and a roaring fireplace in the foyer. Oh yes, it was cranked up, no matter that it was approaching 100 degrees outside. Wouldn’t want to ding the ambience, now would we…
Cool River has a nice menu, with some tasty appetizers to get the soirée rolling. We sampled the spinach and artichoke dip, some crab cakes, and a big plate of beef tenderloin bruschetta (my favorite).
All the food is prepared by chefs, so there’s great presentation as well as wonderful, balanced flavors. There are basically two categories of entrées at Cool River: Steak, and Everything Else (That’s Not Steak). They don’t call themselves a steak house, but they sure do beef up right. All the usual suspects: New York strip, filet mignon, ribeye, and prime rib.
I had their chicken-fried venison, a most enjoyable interpretation of a classic Southern meal. The cream gravy alone was worth the price of admission, and the huge mushrooms placed on top were tender and tasty, a nice touch.
They serve several seafood dishes, such as salmon, tuna, sea bass and shrimp. Whatever you order at Cool River will be tasty and elegant, and served by their capable and sophisticated staff (Thanks, Greg!). A big group lunch and nobody went without anything. We only sent one dish back (you gotta send something back!) for a little bit more scorching. The meal was returned promptly, with an apology from the chef.
We were all too full to try their delicious desserts this time. My wife and I plan to return soon for an evening snack; just drinks, an appetizer and a dessert. Or two. Oh, all right, three; that’s my absolute limit.
Of course Cool River has salads, soups and sides. Big starter salads, bigger dinner salads (try their signature Three Forks Salad), and yummy sides, like sweet potato hash. I saved mentioning these until now, as the recipe I want to share is one of their soups, prepared frequently:
You should try this soup if you get the chance! It’s not difficult to prepare, as you can see from the recipe. But it’s oh so good and creamy! About the only way to make it taste better would be to add bacon, and that might overpower the veggies. I suggest trying the soup-and-salad combo if you want a lighter meal.
That way, you’ll have room for dessert; maybe. In the meantime,
Enjoy the (Creamy) Heat!
PS Sadly, Cool River in Austin closed on June 1, 2013. The closest one is now in Dallas…
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