We had the pleasure of being in Austin at the right time because this new Austin “sweet” gem had just opened. Nightcap’s slogan really says it, “predominately pastry, with a side of savory”, with the addition of a whimsical cocktail menu. This is the place to be to satisfy anyone’s late night sweet tooth or boozy craving.
The owner, Christin Rowan-Adams, turns this quaint house into an intimate dining and drinking hangout. The color of the building is a warm purple in honor of her father and really sets the tone of the restaurant instantly. Inside guests are welcomed with a candlelit ambience, flowered wall paper ceiling and more warm colors in each room, giving a romantic feel. What seems to have been a living room is now Nightcap’s bar that connects to the kitchen. The bar top is less romantic, but is fun and engaging to watch and interact with the fun bartenders. This is where we decided to enjoy Nightcap’s offerings and we were not disappointed with our experience. As stated, Nightcap starts off with a bang, from the color of its building to the ambience inside and then it finishes strong with the check presented in different amusing books. We got Kick Your Own Ass by Johnson, needless to say, Nightcap is very playful and is a restaurant well executed from start to finish.
We were honored to have Rowan-Adams be the one to greet us and instead of going straight to our seats we ended up talking to her for awhile because she was so engaging. She calls herself, H.B.I.C. which means Head Bitch In Charge, and indeed she is! (Seriously though it says H.B.I.C. on her business card). Anyone in the room could attest to that because she has that natural demeanor of a confident, bad ass woman. She went from being a bartender with a creative concept and turned it into a reality. Ironically enough every woman in this restaurant holds that demeanor and it was very gratifying. To this day male chefs and restaurants owners are more predominant than women so Nightcap is a nice breath of fresh air. The pastry chef is Annabelle Turner and the executive chef is Dunston, both coming from Paggi House and delivering creative dishes. Chef Turner creates bold flavors in her plated desserts and present them in a modern, breathtaking way.
Coffee + Donut: 9/10
Coffee panna cotta with cardamom cream, ricotta beignets and crispy ham. Yes HAM! This dessert was a nice play on a cup of coffee with some donuts. The cup of “coffee” was actually coffee panna cotta served in a cup with the beignets served beside it. The ricotta beignets were light, soft and delightful. The ricotta made the beignets slightly sweet and creamy keeping a nice balance from the strong coffee flavor. The coffee panna cotta was very bold and intense – perfect for any coffee or caffeine lover. The panna cotta was a little dense, but had a smooth mouthfeel. The dollop of cardamom whipped cream helped soften the intensity out and added the effect of the nice creaminess one would get in their cup of latte. The flavor of cardamom enhanced the coffee making the cold panna cotta feel warm and spicy. With all the creaminess in this small cup of coffee the crunched cookies sprinkled on top of the cream gives a great contrast of texture and additional sweetness. The real show stopper of this plated dessert was the crispy ham, or pancetta. Again, the coffee panna cotta is very bold and the creamy beignets help tone the intensity, but it is the pancetta that hits this dessert for a home run! The pancetta balances out all the flavor components and then the palate gets a salty, cleansing finish – making anyone want to take a bite of everything once more just to experience it all over again until there is nothing more on the plate.
Cookie Du Jour: 9/10
Cookie Du Jour, meaning cookie of the day. On this evening the cookie was oatmeal and was a play on classic oatmeal cream pie and was served with an upgraded glass of milk. This is a grown up cookies and milk dessert and was Adam’s favorite of the night. A warm oatmeal cookie that was slightly salty and not too sweet – think like salted caramel, it was a good kind of salty. Sandwiched between the two warm oatmeal cookies was a lot of sweet creamy filling that stayed within its cookies and surprisingly not too messy to eat. I liked that the filling stayed sandwiched between the cookies and didn’t ooze out. The overall sweetness of this oatmeal cream pie was right on target – Chef Turner certainly knows how to balance her flavors. The milk was served cold and was quite refreshing alongside the cookie. It had some spices sprinkled on top leaving you warm and fuzzy inside. This is a beautiful winter dessert that makes you feel young and want to be snuggled up next to a fireplace.