by Andrew Chalk
Situated strategically to offer imposing eastward views towards Austin, with a choice of indoor or outdoor seating, Blind Salamander is the principal restaurant at Omni’s popular resort nestled in the verdant and charming area of Barton Creek, west of Austin. I was fortunate to dine there recently as part of a media event.
Chef Francisco Baca’s menu is primarily seafood (possibly to complement the Bob’s Steakhouse on the same property) but offers enough non-pesce choice for the meat lover. I chose the Venison Rack Seasoned With Harissa Rub, Cattle Bean Ragu, Charred Broccolini, Pickled Tomatoes & Pecans special ($60) and enjoyed the two counterpoised chops. There is something harmonious about eating deer in the Texas Hill Country, and I mean something deeper than revenge for all the damage this guy’s buddies did to my car. It is country food, hunting food epitomized.
The Moll stuck to the fish and ordered Chicken Fried Snapper with sautéed green beans, caper gravy and giant red balls of salmon roe arranged on top ($54). The batter was muscular, to say the least, something that fans of traditional chicken fried steak will love.
The side of Crab Mac N Cheese ($21) was the star of the meal with the cheese and pasta bathed in a rich, creamy, cheese sauce. Our other side of Cauliflower Fried Rice ($15) came mixed with diced peas, carrots, and mushrooms but also got its flavors from ginger and soy. Sides are large enough for two (we thought four adults could have eaten well on an even split) so plan accordingly.
One casualty of the helping sizes was dessert. We had to decline the likes of French Apple Rum Cake ($14) and Death by Chocolate ($14), unfortunately.
We did try the Fall Creek ‘Alamo’ Cabernet Sauvignon ($16) from Texas, available by-the-glass. An excellent pairing with the venison. But why only one Texas wine by-the-glass? Omni has a nationally determined list of by-the-glass offerings, presumably in order to meet sales goals, But, as a Texas-based company, they are more aware than most that there are over 70 producing wineries in the Hill Country, wineries that win medals in the toughest national competitions. Maybe room for a ‘domestics’ list of a dozen local producers at this flagship Hill Country property? That’s a friendly way to wave the state flag.
Kudos to manager Marcos Gonzalez and our waitress Leandra for doing a great job throughout, and keeping us, and a virtually full dining room, happy and well-fed.