Rob Moshein - Austin Wine Guy
Pray you now, forget and forgive. "King Lear", Act 4 scene 7
April 16, 2009OK, so, I guess I caused rather a stir with the review blog of Shoreline. It was the most popularly read blog post ever. By a lot. For the last couple of weeks, I've been hearing "Wow, YOU wrote that..."
Sherry Smith, Shoreline's publicist called me the next day, with major apologies. She asked if I would give them another try, and come have dinner. Heck, I AM gracious, of course I went. I'm glad I did.
So gentle readers, I get it now. I fully understand what Shoreline is about, what they are doing, what they are capable of doing and where they are coming from and where they are going to. It's all good.
First, the invite that said 5pm was wrong. Fair enough. Second, the managers at Shoreline are like SHY, really shy. Once I was introduced to Scott, he was great, he was just too shy to say hello without first being introduced. Fair enough.
Third, there were no "renovations" to speak of. The invite was again wrong. Shoreline has been "spiffed up" with new paint colors, some lighting, but no major renovations. Fair enough.
So, here's the deal. Shoreline is OLD Austin. Shoreline is 1988 Austin. Shoreline has a bunch of long time very regular customers who don't WANT it to change. Thus the "club house" feel. Fair enough.
On the other hand, Shoreline WANTS to change. Shoreline needs to change. Austin has changed. The NEW Austin has expectations, the NEW Austin is a more sophisticated, urban, urbane city. Old Austin is Armadillo World Headquarters, Jeffrey's and Threadgills, keg beer and salsa. New Austin is Cru, Qua, Jezebel, TRIO, truffle fries and gelato. Old Austin refuses to embrace NEW Austin and wants to Keep it Weird. NEW Austin thinks Old Austin should just join the 21st Century already.
Thus, yr mst hmbl and Obd't Srvt here found himself squarely caught between the two dining at Shoreline. Shoreline wants change in baby steps, fair enough. The new chef Scotty is excellent. His seafood was handled as deftly and well executed as anybody in town. Seared scallops in saffron chervil broth were New York City good. I don't LIKE trout and ordered it deliberately just to see. I ate every bite, it was that tasty. The tuna tartare and crab roll apps were good. The most interesting and best part for me is that Scotty wants his menu to be Sustainably and Locally Sourced. Better, he makes no sacrifices to get that. The beauty part is that it is a menu that is GOOD, and that even better is Sustainably and Locally Sourced. BRAVO. Service was excellent, friendly and attentive but not overly so. It was great to sit outside for dinner.
The wine list is extensive, but I will refrain from review at this time because local Wine/Bar Consultant Greg Steiner is about to go over and "tweak" the wine list. The wine pairings that came with my dinner were for the most part good. Not bold or innovative, but see, Shoreline isn't ready to BE bold or innovative. Fair enough. They'll take "good". Good is safe. Good is comfortable. I wasn't crazy about the Chocolate Port with an AMAZING Chocolate dessert, it was too much for me, I would have gone with a 20 year tawny or older Colheita to pick up the coconut in the macaroons, but again, they went for safe.
Shoreline is comfortable and good, and nice. It is very much OLD Austin, but they are taking baby steps to embrace NEW Austin. Bravo to them. I can't wait to see where they are in a year and again in two. They are off to a good start and I wish them all success. One hopes New Austin will use Shoreline as a way to connect, understand and appreciate the Old Austin. One hopes Old Austin will embrace the new steps Shoreline is taking to embrace New Austin. After all both live side by side and happily we all call Austin by the same name: HOME.