|Please don't tickle the waiter!|
|Alaskan king salmon "spiked" in lemon juice, with mushroom risotto|
Decided to try this place out with a friend for Austin Restaurant Week recently, and we were both pretty disappointed. I think it's important to point out, however, that neither of us ate anything decidedly Italian.
We each got the grilled wild Alaskan king salmon, "spiked" with lemon juice, served with mushroom risotto, and I found the risotto to be the tastiest part, despite the fact that it wasn't any tastier than my mother's stroganoff. Don't get the wrong impression, my mother's beef stroganoff is exceptionally tasty and I crave it now as I write this, but I expect a downtown high-class restaurant, with prices to match, to have even better-tasting food.
The fish was decent tasting, though ever so slightly overcooked. I honestly think the extremely liberal coating of lemon juice ruined it for me. And the mushroom risotto just wasn't anything special. The fish and risotto are nothing I couldn't do myself at home, which leaves me in a very unfortunate position, with regard to rating Carmelo's fare.
The point is, Austin Restaurant Week is a time when restaurants are supposed to put on their best bib and tucker, in order to garner new business. Newbies come to your place to try the best of your best (at least, I assume you would put your best efforts on the ARW menu). When the food you offer for ARW makes me wish I had saved my gas, time and money, you've got a problem.
The dessert I had -- blackout chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream -- was slightly better than the entree, mainly because of the heaping helping of chocolate chips in the batter. I'm a chocolate fiend, friends, but I found the cake a bit too dry in some places; it was inconsistently moist. And the Amy's Mexican vanilla ice cream was a bad choice. Mexican vanilla just didn't go well with this cake, folks. I came nowhere near finishing the dessert, and it wasn't because I was full (the entree failed to fill me up). The best part of the meal was the presentation of my friend's hazelnut creme brulee. The waiter torched it with the flamethrower right there at our table. 'Twas fun and interesting to watch, almost like going to a hibachi grill for a birthday dinner, which I soon desired in place of the meal I'd been served at Carmelo's.
Despite the sheer excitement of my friend's dessert, service was patchy. We couldn't decide who our server was because we had at least three. They were all nice, and were great about refilling our teas, but getting and paying our checks took an eon. This is a major problem in the vast majority of Austin restaurants, as I have found in the last decade, and it never ceases to annoy me. Suppose my friend and I had been on a lunch break from work? There was no way we would have made it back to work in an hour, even if we worked right next door.
I see no reason to try Carmelo's again. They played a pair of deuces on a day that they should have been playing a straight flush. They should have folded instead, and I suspect they will soon.