Birthday Tapas at FINO

Hosting friends over Labor Day weekend reminded me that Stephen and I are pretty clueless about the Austin restaurant scene. We don’t go out to eat all that often, and when we do, we normally pick one of five places. Let’s call us loyal customers… not boring and predictable.

What better reason to enjoy a special meal than a birthday? To celebrate my 25th last Friday, Stephen took me out to dinner at FINO in downtown Austin.

FINO Tapas Restaurant in Downtown Austin

Date Night at FINO Restaurant in AustinThe restaurant has a gorgeous patio for outdoor dining, but neither of us were in the mood to sip red wine in 90+ degree temperatures. We’ll have to come back another time to dine al fresco.

FINO specializes in “Modern Mediterranean”, and their menu consists of Spanish tapas, small plates and paellas. On the ride over, I convinced Stephen to share a bunch of small plates with me, in lieu of two entrees. This is a big gesture, people. Stephen has a strong bias against tapas; he claims you’ll never leave a tapas place full. I can’t say I disagree with him. Kid’s got a point.

As the birthday girl, I reserved the right to select our dishes. My first pick?

Anchovy stuffed fried olives at FINO restaurant in Austin

Fried Anchovy Stuffed Olives.

I tried to play it fair; I’m not one to abuse such a privilege. Stephen loves olives, and I love anchovies. The world loves fried.

These were pretty good! I might have been the only person at the table who felt that way, though. I thought they were perfectly salty, crunchy and savory, but Stephen was put off by the spice dusted on top. We’re not sure what it was, but it had a slightly bitter flavor.

We followed this up with an order of Baba Ghanoush. Surprisingly, Stephen enjoyed this dip even more than I did, and he claims to abhor eggplant.

Yesss (said like Mr. Burns). I get very excited when I can add a vegetable to his “not bad” list.

Pan seared salmon dish at FINO restaurant in Austin

By far, our favorite dish of the night was the Pan Seared Salmon. The fish was cooked perfectly, and the combination of sweet corn, piquillo peppers, avocado yogurt and lemon thyme sauce was incredibly flavorful. We crossed forks over final bites.

My coworkers are probably chuckling because they know I adore avocado. It’s true; I’ve been known to eat one a day.

Our fourth and final dish of the night was the Tortilla Espanola. Our server described the dish as a thick egg and potato pancake, plated with romesco sauce. It was very similar to something I’d tried before at Jaleo in Washington D.C.

FINO restaurant date night

All in all, we really enjoyed our meal. Stephen claimed he was still a tad hungry when we left, so his bias against tapas remains. Oh well. At least he saved room to help me polish off a few cupcakes from Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop.

The Odd Couple and Jack’s Lemon… just… no words.

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