Summer surprise at your local neighborhood mall

A few weeks ago, I made a quick trip to Austin to help my daughter pack up her sweet first home. It is a bittersweet time for their little family because they are leaving not only a house they built (only 2 years ago) where their daughter was born, but also a community of friends and my son-in-law’s family. But it’s also an exciting period in their lives — new job, moving back to their college town and of course, being so much closer to Cookie (moi)!

During our packing endeavors, we stopped to pursue sustenance and our hunger transported us to the Domain at the north end of Austin. My daughter had been sharing how much she loves the food at North Italia and with 7 month baby in tow, we decided to pursue a late lunch at the restaurant. Unfortunately, North Italia did not want to impress us on that day…having no available indoor seating for two women and a high chair. At 1:30pm they were still holding tables for reservations. 😠

So back in the car, stomachs grumbling we had to make a quick decision…where could we enjoy a nice lunch with a/c guaranteed and where I could find a Whole30-compliant-ish meal? I suggested the cafe at Nordstrom and because she had never been, we acted. Of course there was available seating on Friday at 1:45 pm, and we were so welcomed by a lovely server who cooed and played peek-a-boo with our infant. We immediately felt relieved when we dropped into our soothingly cool booth at Cafe Bazille and began to peruse the menu.

Charming service aside, we had the loveliest lunch. We started with Cauliflower “Wings” — deep-fried florets of the sweet vegetable, basted in Buffalo sauce. Wow. Amazing. Delish. But the star of my lunch show was the Wild Salmon Nicoise Salad. And aside from the few tidbits that I sacrificed to share with sweet Clara, I’m pretty sure I licked my plate clean. The perfectly cooked salmon fillet with an herby chimichurri, tender but still firm fingerling potatoes, perfectly steamed haricot vert, wedges of hardboiled egg, briny olives, grape tomatoes and a drizzle of amazing Dijon Balsamic vinaigrette…I’m still thinking about that salad so I am going to duplicate it for my customers. My version is on the menu this week!

So what began as a meal-fail, ended in lunchtime success. Bazille 1, North Italia 0.