Austin >Food & Dining > Ventana Restaurant
11400 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX | Directions 7875830.397622 -97.719605
Neighborhoods: North Burnet - Gateway, North Burnet
Gourmet food at reasonable prices, served by a friendly staff of Texas Culinary Academy students. – In Short
Located on the grounds of TCA, students do rotations at the upscale-dining restaurant as part of their education. White tablecloths, crystal glasses and sleek wood furniture make for a lovely evening. Asian-influenced gray and pale-yellow paper shades provide soft lighting. Fresh rosemary-infused rolls are elegantly served with tongs. The mixed brochette appetizer includes grilled duck and large portobello caps. Escargots en croute mingle with strong blue cheese chunks underneath flaky puff pastry.
Mediocre service, alright food, lacking ambience – Of course you can't expect it to be like a restaurant, don't get me wrong. But the waitstaff was really fussy... every single time they brought something out, bread, appetizer, soup, entree, and dessert we switched plates forks knives spoons whatever was appropriate. They didn't know how to give you space. The food was pretty good... portions larger than another fine dining establishment. For the price though... pay the extra 20 and go somewhere nice with some ambience. I go for the experience at a restaurant... I like ambience, service and then food.
Try to cut them some slack... – I went there expecting to be dazzled by chefs who have been in the trade for years... I forgot that they were students and I graded them as professionals. I started with the beef carpaccio which was probably the best item I had. The seasoning was spot on and the herb salad was a refreshing addition. I had the potato crusted tuna with seasonal vegetables and broth as an entree... It was slightly disappointing. The potatoes were undercooked, the tuna was flavorless, and some of the vegetables were over cooked while some were underdone. I had the espresso creme brule for desert which was very good. The sugar was crisp and the espresso flavor was perfect.
All in all, for the price, Ventana was a great place.
Watch out old players ! – If you hav'nt been to Ventana LATELY DO YOURSELF A FAVOR.
Have dinner there, an all new chef instructor team will dazzle your palate and make you not even think twice about going to the few " great " restaurants in town.
Students or not you will be amazed how great it is, and not have to co-sign for over worked food and indifferent service.
Lunch also rocks, no fast food though !
Delightful! – My family and I visited Ventana for the first time tonight, but it definitely won't be the last time! We started with the soup du jour (Shrimp Bisque) and the mixed brouchette appetizer. Both were heavenly. We then ordered the Steak Au Poivre, Mushroom Chasseur, and the Swordfish special. Each dish was well-prepared and flavorful. We ended by each ordering a different dessert - the daily special (a Napolean with almond cookies, whipped cream and fresh berries), Creme Brulee, and Chocolate Cake. All were wonderful, and each of us thought we had the best dish out of the three. The service was friendly and eager to please. If you haven't been to Ventana yet, give it a try. I don't know where else you can find such elegant food at such a low price.
Nice Job – I thought the food was excellent, as was the service. The food and wine menu have nice variety and selections, and there are daily specials as well. The staff was very friendly and attentive. The deal is that they go through the whole culinary school curriculum, and this is their final course, before a foreign exchange internship and graduation. So after all the training, they spend 3months in the kitchen and 3months out-front waiting, maitre d'ing, hosting, etc. So the wait staff is very knowledgeable and you don't get some shmoe that doesn't know foie gras from pimento cheese. The prices were reasonable too, $5-7 appetizers, and entrees $12-18. They make a good cappuccino, and the crème brule was decadent for desert. We'll go back.
Something to Understand. – First off, the main thing that people need to understand is that this is a Culinary School! People like you and me pay money to learn how to cook, and to get the experience needed to make it in the real world. Second of all, there are people in the restraunt that have NEVER waitied tables before in their life, and really don't care if they ever wait tables again. There is only a few days that the wait staff gets training before they are put on the floor. TCA's Ventana which means windows in spanish. Which is surrounded by windows, a very beautiful restraunt. Always remember that this place is a teaching facility first, then a place to serve you. My word of advice is that you go their knowing that is is a school, and just be patient.
Not Bad for Beginners – This restaurant is run by culinary students, not by professionals, and that shows. Oh, most of the food is quite good, but the quality of dishes varies drastically. Depending what you order, you may get a wonderful soup, a decent salad, a delicious entree, and a disappointing dessert (or some other combination). That's to be expected, of course, from chefs who haven't quite mastered their art yet.
Beyond that, the service is of mixed quality and the management is somewhat amateurish (don't be surprised if they lose your reservation). The waiters tend to be young, polite, friendly, and eager to please... but they're inexperienced, and get a lot of things wrong.
If you expect or demand perfection, Ventana will disappoint you. But if you're patient, the (generally) high quality food and friendly workers can make dining there an enjoyable experience.
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