I walked by Aquarelle this weekend, the charming and admired French bistro hidden behind W. 6th at
606 Rio Grande, to snap a photo for the GoLocalAustin blog. (For those of you who aren’t aware, I also operate in the blogger world under the alias of AustinLocalista here…feel free to follow for the latest news and scoop behind the Go Local Austin card, and to find out where you can buy GLA cards, and where you can redeem discounts around town!)
I planned to grab a photo of the outside of the cottage since I arrived around noon, and they are only open for Happy Hour and dinner. But, low and behold, when I neared the entrance camera-in-hand, I saw a man in a white jacket peering out the window at me. Sous Chef Leonard Reese opened the door as if expecting a visitor, but inquired about my visit and asked how he could help. The next thing I knew, I was learning about the interior enhancements that were made to the dining rooms, and the approach Aquarelle is taking to stay successful during economically-trying times: evolve with the times, keeping your customers’ wants and needs at the forefront of your mind. For example, Aquarelle has just introduced 2 new tasting menus, each consisting of 3 courses, and reasonably priced between $30-$45. In addition, their wine bar is also a newer development, which offers diners the option of a light meal with half price appetizers between 5-7 PM. As Aquarelle begins its 10th year in business, it has also made a commitment to offering specials depending on seasonal ingredients-yet another approach to offering an exclusive meal at an affordable price.
During our conversation, I couldn’t help but wonder why anyone was in the restaurant so many hours before the doors open for dinner. I was surprised to find out that owner Terry Wilson was teaching a group of about 10 kids how to bake for a birthday party just as I arrived! Not what you’d expect of a romantic dinner destination restaurant, which Aquarelle can be, but, it is so much more– a local business committed to offering reasonable, yet first-rate, French cuisine for families and special occasioners alike. And, when a restaurant owner is spending her day teaching kids how to bake in her restaurant kitchen, you can’t get much closer to feeling at home there.
Aquarelle on the Ausitn Scene
Bastille Day Celebration TODAY– Stop by Aquarelle from 5-9 PM for live French music in the back parking lot, and their $6-across-the-board menu of Steak Frites Sandwiches, Shrimp Po’ Boys, a few other nibbles, and 6-7 varieties of Rose wines to end your hot summer day on a refreshing note.
Austin City Limits– Aquarelle is making its mark on the Austin scene, specifically with its 2nd-year-in-a-row booth at ACL this year where $6 steak frites sandwiches and parmesan-pepper fries star as inexpensive, yet tasty crowd-pleasers.