honkytonkfoodie

The Laurel Tree in Utopia, TX

In Food on 01/08/2011 at 5:11 pm

Greetings and salutations for 2011!  Let the jaunting begin:

This morning the boyfriend and I drove an hour and a half to Utopia, via highway 90 to Sabinal then 187 to The Laurel Tree.

Their picture. Not as sunny or bunny today.

Several things to note about this establishment:

1) it is only open for lunch or dinner on Saturdays. Lunch seating is from 11:30am to 1:00pm and dinner seating starts at 6:30pm. Your table is reserved for the entire lunchtime or evening.  This was especially nice due to our table’s close proximity to the door. With minimal in and out, dining was much more relaxed. Attire is dressy casual, and cash, checks as well as credit cards are accepted. Reservations are required.

2) the menu changes weekly and highlights the European-style “guest table”. The head chef told us she selects the menu based on the fresh meats she picks up the same week (never delivered).  All guests are served chef’s -choice appetizers, soup, salad and desserts but may choose between two main courses offered for the day.  Evening meals include several courses for a fixed price of $35, while lunch is $18.  Prices include desserts and beverages without add-on costs.  Drink options included water, iced tea and peach iced tea.

3) it’s in a dry county so no alcohol is served but you may bring your own wine.

4) the chef noted she is happy to work with patrons on restricted diets. Just call ahead and let her know.

The appetizer of mushroom and leek tartlette with red veined sorrel was a nice pairing of flavors, however I found this item a bit heavy as a first course.  The crust was flaky but the intensity of the fungi and cheese set a tone which was inconsistent with the rest of the meal.  Nonetheless, a delicious tantalizer.  Next was the soup which was made of cauliflower, broccoli, cheese and roasted garlic.  I was impressed with the lightness of the taste; no one flavor was dominant which is difficult to do considering the ingredients.  We discussed the potential causes of the almost gritty texture before the cauliflower was revealed.  The chef noted she prefers her soups to not be silky smooth.

For the main course, I went with the Shrimp:

Salad was a nice palate cleanser.  Very fresh and visually appealing.  The shrimp was well proportioned and delicious, although by the final crustacean, I was done with the breading.  The vinaigrette was tangy and quite universal: I also tried it with the shrimp and grits with pleasing results.  The grits themselves were well cooked but a bit bland for the neutrality of the plate.  Neither cheesy or peppery, I think they would have benefited from a bit of zest.

Boyfriend had the roast beef:

He was very pleased.  Although I only had one bite, I could tell the pesto was wonderfully fresh and the cheese was well suited.  The croissant procured an announcement all sandwiches should be on such a bread.

The dessert pear was a pleasingly light taste, pulled together by the vanilla whipped cream.  Coffee was a nice additional flavor.

My only suggestion might be to utilize a spicier red wine to enhance the flavor of the pear BUT I have no idea if this would destroy the integrity of the dish.

This place produces its own herbs and greens, and is a lovely facility even on a winter’s day.  Staff was friendly and unobtrusive, the decor was comforting although a tad overwhelming and the music was appropriately French but a bit loud at times.  I valued the delectable food and the tranquil feel of an unhurried meal.

Thanks to Joan and Dan for a delightful afternoon!

 

In related French food facts: some snails have been documented to reuse their mucus trails.

 

 

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