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Cochineal in Marfa, Texas

3 April 2011 4,340 views 10 Comments

When I think of West Texas, upscale dining isn’t what comes to mind, but when I read the rave reviews about Cochineal, I had to try it.

cochineal sign1

Adam and I stopped in for dinner our first night in Marfa and walked right past it at first because the sign is almost concealed and the nights are very dark in this part of the world. Walking through the outdoor patio, I was reminded of Justine’s in East Austin, but it was way too cold to even think of sitting outside. The interior was one small room with concrete walls, wood tables, distressed wood floors, and white wavy installations coming down from the ceiling. Very minimalist. Very New York City (where the owners are from).

The very friendly waiter brought fresh baked bread with a wonderful crust served with butter and salt. It was the kind of bread that when you take a bite, you can’t hear anything but the lovely crunching. Adam and I split the chardonnay — they serve wine by the quartino and since it was $16 and we’re not big drinkers, we were satisfied.

We started with an  endive salad with artichoke hearts, olives, and avocado with pumpkin seed oil. The ingredients startlingly fresh considering the restaurant is located hours from the nearest airport and not much grows in West Texas.

Endive Salad

Endive Salad

Next was house-made linguine with shrimp and shiitake mushroom in a lemon cream sauce. The pasta was delicious with a cream sauce that was rich without being heavy, the shrimp had a nice bite, and the lemon was subtle in the best way.

Lingune with Shrimp and Mushrooms

Lingune with Shrimp and Mushrooms

For a main course, we split the wood grilled swordfish served with pico de gallo, slow roasted tomatoes, and shredded brussels sprouds. The swordfish is flown in daily from Hawaii and the dish had a great smoky flavor with a little sweetness. As I told Adam, “I ordered this dish for the health reasons but stayed for the taste.”

wood grilled swordfish

wood grilled swordfish

Dessert was Toshi’s date pudding with caramel rum sauce and whipped cream and also flourless callebaut chocolate souffle  with warm molten center. The date pudding was one of my favorite desserts in recent memory — Toshi is one of the co-owners and apparently is the only one who has the recipe so when he goes out of town, his date pudding is off the menu. It had a wonderful aroma and consistency, a nice outer crust, and the caramel rum sauce was really really good. The whipped cream was fresh tasting and not too sweet.

Toshi's Date Pudding

Toshi's Date Pudding

The chocolate souffle was delicious also but was overshadowed by the heaven that was the date pudding. It could have also been served with ice cream to cut the richness a bit.

Adam with Chocolate Souffle

I went back for brunch with my mom and that meal was just as mouth-watering. We shared the baked eggs in cream, spinach, bacon, garlic, and herbs with Parmesan cheese. Just look at it. Amazing.

Baked Eggs in Cream

Baked Eggs in Cream

Next, we shared a half order of sour cream pancakes with maple syrup. I didn’t even have to ask if they served real maple syrup. The folks at Cochineal don’t play.

Sour Cream Pancakes with Maple

Sour Cream Pancakes with Maple

After we asked for the check, I walked past the kitchen where these freshly baked croissants and scones were cooling. I showed restraint at the time, but looking back at the pictures, we really should have ordered one of each for the road trip home to Austin.

Scones and Croissants

Scones and Croissants

For more photos of Marfa, check out the slideshow below.

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