Tasty tour of Castroville, the charming Alsatian village with the ever enticing Old Alsatian Steakhouse and Ristorante. Tito’s tip of the day: 2010 Victor Hugo Viognier from the Paseo Robles region (yelp reviews), paired with flounder – resonant! The old world charm of this unique village is understated enough to provide a welcome reprieve from the standard issue box houses that line the I-35, 410, I-10 corridors. Historically strategic during the civil and Indian wars, the city has kept many historical dwellings intact along with the French/German (Alsace) heritage that distinguishes it from the Germanic dorf of Fredricksburg.
Traveling back to Castroville to spend the day and dine at the Old Alsatian Steakhouse and Ristorante proved to be another delightful excursion. Bill and I had lunch on our last visit; now we were prepared for a fine dining experience at dinner and were not disappointed. Starting with Mike’s Alsatian Delight – black mussels in a creamy herb and Irish whiskey sauce – was a good idea. Like little babies, we stopped short of drinking the rich and indescribably sublime sauce after polishing off the fresh, tender mussels. Tito offered us a taste of the shrimp bisque, which was subtly different from the creamy mussel sauce with the addition of paprika, almost as delicious. Three cheers for the petite house salad with a homemade vinaigrette bolstered by mounds of finely minced onion. We were already satisfied when our entrees arrived. I had the Flounder Fiorno and Bill had the Pork medallions in a superb Marsala sauce with raisins. Both dishes were delicious but the flounder was out of this world. Lightly battered and draped in a melt in your mouth creamy chardonnay sauce with capers and almonds, I floated on waves of pleasure, overcome with the feeling that I was transported to the old world, somewhere in the French, German alps. The carrots and peas were outstanding, the spinach savory and the green beans distinctly delicious. Portions were bountiful, I ate too much, but cannot complain. We were too full for dessert; I’m sure they were wicked. We toddled around the block, still reeling from our feast but I would do it again, preferably with 4 people sharing. The restaurant offers wine tastings (with appetizers), both public and private. Check their website for announcements or contact them to plan a party. Sunday photos are added as a segue to our morning visit to the Medina River, another excellent reason to visit Castroville.
Castroville on a Sunday morning (in late January) was sunny, still, and unusually warm. We were sauntering around this charming European style village looking for a bite to eat when we saw a homey looking café. The sign outside the Old Alsatian Ristorante read Open at 11am. From the street, it looked to me like a coffee shop and bakery – a perfect short stop. Instead, Eve and I found a sophisticated restaurant with a varied menu and wine list. Tito, the owner and host, welcomed us and described the specials on the chalkboard perched above a selection of his prized wines. He was kind enough to show us around his charming establishment both inside and out. The patio held the promise of spring and summer dining and Tito opened a small outbuilding that housed a number of civil war era relics left on the property by soldiers who bivouacked there long ago. It will become a small museum. (See the post on Castroville for pictures). After suffering from a lack of appealing eateries on our trip to Sonora and Uvalde, this was a refreshing antidote, a delectable discovery.
Unable to resist temptation, we ordered entrees and wine. Lunch started with a cup of the day’s cauliflower, broccoli and poblano pepper soup. The touch of parmesan and blend of buttery, vegetable goodness exceeded every expectation. Eve chose a spinach and chicken tart served with caesar salad. The savory spinach filling was enhanced with the surprising addition of an occasional fresh green olive, and was held in an airy home made filo crust, absolutely superb. I picked the beef braised with mushrooms, wine and herbs, the garlic mashed potatoes and fresh mixed vegetables. Tito poured me a glass of Chianti to go with the beef, an inspired pairing. I had a sip with each bite. The Pinot Grigio he chose for the tart was fresh, with hints of citrus, another delicious combination. Tito certainly knows what to do with garlic, olive oil, herbs, freshly baked bread and wine. The garden provided the herbs and will yield tasty salad fixings in the months to come. I look forward to my next chance to find out what’s on Tito’s chalkboard.
On the way back from Uvalde, Texas, after our journey through the underworld in the Caves of Sonora, Bill and I made a delightful discovery in Castroville, an Alsatian community and artists’ enclave with an incredible European restaurant. Although there were some nice rolling hills and scenic vistas on the drive between Sonora and Uvalde, the towns we passed through were a hodgepodge of trailers, decaying and abandoned homes and trucks, unplanned and untended communities. From Devil’s Sinkhole to dry devil’s creek, river; this was devil’s country. Uvalde had a few attractive buildings and some evidence of life, certainly enough fast food joints but other than the” little gallery that could”, The Art Lab, the experience was forgettable.
It was such a pleasure to roll into Castroville. Right away, the layout and feel of the town was picturesque, European, tidy. OK, I betray my roots, I like aesthetically planned communities. The sloping roofs and old country feel of the homes brought back memories of Bavaria. I include shots of the city in the gallery below. The Old Alsatian Steakhouse and Ristorante will be reviewed in the Dining section of this site. Suffice it to say, it was a rare gem. More trips to Castroville are in the cards.