It’s been a while, fellow diners! A little break was all I needed to shed those “memories of meals past” that I carried with me. Mostly on my thighs.
I’ve heard both good and bad about Sustenio and J has been there for lunch, and we figured we’d try it out with a couple of our dining buddies, M&M, before they move back to Houston. The only consistent commentary I’ve heard about Sustenio is that it’s in a weird place. That is definitely true.
As we pulled up to the massive Eilan retail/residential/hotel space in which Sustenio resides, I felt as if we were in Vegas. Well, except there were no cars in the parking lot, no people in sight, and there was an eerie abandoned quietness that made me think we should turn back. I was waiting for the tumbleweed to blow by, but J assured me that he had been to Sustenio for lunch and that it really did exist, so we pressed on. The question is, can a restaurant succeed in a venue that is so empty and off the beaten path? I hope so!
I was pleasantly surprised when we walked in to the restaurant. The bar had a lively crowd and there were plenty of people dining as well. We had a quick drink at the bar before moving to the dining area. For me, the strawberry balsamic martini, with muddled strawberries and a balsamic syrup of some sort, really was a treat.
The restaurant is elegantly decorated and has a trendy vibe. It’s lively, but not too loud. The menu is well matched to the décor and atmosphere with a good selection locally sourced “modern southwestern cuisine.” We started with the three ceviche tasting. You can choose from several and we decided on tuna, scallops and lobster. All three were tasty, but the tuna, flavored with passion fruit and coconut, was the clear winner. We also tried the tamale tart with roast garlic custard, Gulf Coast crabmeat and smoked tomato butter, which I am told was quite good (if you like tamales, which I don’t).
We are very much a red meat group so we ended up with two bone-in ribeyes (the chef’s specialty), tenderloin, and the sous vide venison loin. The accompaniments – such as yucca-huitlacoche hash, fried queso stuffed squash blossom and red chile onion rings – really brought the southwestern flair. Everything was fantastic, and no one felt like they could eat another bite. But, I had my eye on the Heaven & Hell cake, which was described as angel food, devil’s food, peanut butter mousse, milk chocolate ganache and raspberry puree. The cakes were used as layers to make one cake – clever, but there was something about the difference in textures that we didn’t love.
Overall, a really nice evening. Friendly service, good food, nice wine, great friends. Sustenio is worth a visit despite the out of the way and somewhat desolate location.
As for Value, we rated Sustenio a 6. It was a nice dinner for the money.