Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lisa Bella's Bistro and Java Bar -- Port Aransas, TX

Lisa Bella's, 224 E. Cotter Ave, is not a restaurant you visit in a hurry. The atmosphere and the service are relaxed, which is fine for us. After a 45 minute drive to Port Aransas the last thing we want is to rush through dinner. I'm sorry that there are no pictures this time, but Lisa Bella's Bistro is not the type of place where you whip out your cell phone and start snapping. It is an intimate place with only about a dozen tables, so that kind of thing sort of sticks out. So, I hope I don't mess up any details, since I have no pictures to refer to nor a menu online to glance at.

A little history. This was not our first trip to Lisa Bella's. On previous trips we were encouraged to bring our own wine and they would serve it for us, even chilling the white wine. We noticed the last time we were there that there was a notice posted in the window that the restaurant had applied for a liquor license.  Remembering that, we called ahead to see if we should bring our own wine. They told us that they had their license, but if we preferred to bring our own, there would be a $15 corking fee per bottle. Not worth it to us, particularly after finding that they offer some very decent wines. I got the impression that they serve only imported beer as I did not see a domestic in sight, but I could be wrong. Personally, I thought it was a unique and charming aspect of the restaurant to bring our own wine, and wish they had not changed.

Enough of that, on to the food! We had a Groupon.com coupon, so we went all out. We started with an appetizer of Panchetta wrapped Gulf Shrimp. Again, no picture, but the presentation of each dish was beautiful and mouth watering. On a colorful plate we received three large gulf shrimp wrapped in panchetta and drizzled with a honey chipotle glaze. It was beautiful and delicious. The shrimp were plump and nicely prepared. The glaze was sweet with just enough chipotle to give it a kick.

For starters I had the Espincada Salad. Baby spinach with dried currants and walnuts, tossed with goat cheese dressing and topped with slices of green apple. Simple and fantastic. Rob had the Mermaid soup. The description read "Lobster, shrimp, scallops, secrets." It was light and didn't taste fishy or too briny, which is a good thing in my book.

I ordered the Crabcakes. Now, if you've ever made crabcakes, or eaten them in just about any other restaurant, you know that you mix a bunch of ingredients together, form the cakes, fry them up and hope that the crab shines through. Well, no, not a Lisa Bella's. I don't know how they got the cakes to stay together long enough to cook, but the only thing I found in my crabcakes was blue crab meat. It was lightly breaded with what I believe was seasoned panko breadcrumbs and fried to perfection. There were two crabcakes on the plate sitting atop a light creamy sauce and topped with a mango salsa. The sides included coconut jasmine rice and green beans. The green beans were sauteed with garlic and the rice had just a light coconut flavor. Very nice! Rob had the Salmon for his entree. The fish was beautifully prepared and sat in a shallow pool of coconut curry sauce.  The flavors were sublime. This dish was also accompanied by green beans and coconut jasmine rice.

We were on a roll so we ordered dessert; Chocolate Cake. I don't know what the formal name was as we just kinda told the guy, "we want the chocolate cake like she had." Well, it was chocolate. I mean really, really chocolate! Just like I like it!

Lisa Bella's is always a treat. It is definitely worth the drive to Port Aransas. If you're visiting on a Friday or Saturday evening we recommend that you make a reservation.

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