I love Austin :: Blue Dahlia Bistro

I love Austin – and it’s not just because I was born and raised here. Or because of Lake Austin. Or the Congress Street Bridge and those bazillions of bats. It’s not just because Austin’s the Capitol or because of Treaty Oak. Nor the fact that we have fabulous weather nearly all year long. Not just because it’s the jewel of Texas (sorry Dallas) or because we’re nestled right next to the Hill Country.

No, I love Austin for more reasons than that – matter of fact, I could probably drive you crazy going on and on about Austin  – especially if you’re not from Austin. So I’ll stop short and just give you one little reason to love Austin.

I love Austin because of places like Blue Dahlia Bistro on East 11th Street.

My arty, smarty friend Karen invited me to Blue Dahlia for lunch to chat about my trip to NYC. Karen is the kind of friend that knows about all the boutiques and bistros. She’s just clever like that. I’d never been to BDB, so I actually had a little trouble finding it. Almost like BDB is a secret … and you have to know where you’re going to find it. But I figured it out. And imagine my delight when I saw this:

The bike out front, the tumbling flowers, the darling sign, the white table cloths. Ahhh. I hurried in and met Karen and was immediately faced with several difficult choices … get a table on the front patio (nice),  inside (so cute) or in the back garden (sure winner!) … but then, oh dear me on my, the menu.

You have no idea how menus torture me. And this one in particular was quite impressive. Would it be a salad, soup or tartine (that’s code for spectacular sandwich)? I looked up at our waiter Gage – then back to Karen helplessly. Suddenly, I was filled with hope. Karen is an expert order-er. She always picks the finest – so I did what any desperate, hungry chick would do – I told Gage to bring me exactly what Karen ordered. So he did. And I was glad.

This dear friends is the ‘Chicken Salad Tartine.’ Just look at the purple grapes, the sweet dried cranberries, the tossed greens and that bread.

But what you need to note is how un-mayonnaisey it is … Gage said something about the fact that they mix in  pesto instead of all that mayonnaise you usually get in chicken salad. Brilliant!

Look at Karen’s sandwich. See that homemade bread and the creative way they serve the meal – on a beautiful, black handcrafted slate board. Presentation. Presentation. Presentation, folks. And then when I went to eat this fabulous tartine, Karen showed me a little trick with the balsamic vinegar … she dribbled it on top of the sandwich. Mmmm … delicious!

And at the end of this meal, there was the presentation of the check. With a smooth, opaque stone — and an inspiring quote. Who does that?! BDB does.

And who introduced me to BDB? Karen. And her cute daughter Claire.

Also present was Claire’s precious friend but they were just a little to shy to pose for a picture …

they thought it was hilarious …

and wouldn’t sit still for the longest time …

til finally, the silly girls sat still. They loved Blue Dahlia Bistro just as much as Karen and just as much

as me.