The Westin Austin Downtown is officially open for business at the corner of San Jacinto Boulevard and Fifth Street. The Austin-American inspired restaurant Stella San Jac is located on bottom floor of the hotel serving an eclectic American-Southern inspired menu featuring a mix of multi-cultural influenced flavors that define the city.
The kitchen is helmed by Pennsylvania native and Executive Chef Michael Cerrie, with more than 25 years of cooking for celebrities, dignitaries and world famous chefs. His cooking style is inspired by his Sicilian great grandmother, “Nonni,” and family fish frys. Cerrie attributes his cooking style to an inherited appreciation for great food served simply.
Outstanding service is hard to come by these days, but with more than 20 handpicked servers and staff on hand, the restaurant is making a clear statement on the quality they wish to provide. After visiting the restaurant 3 different occasions and was highly impressed every single time. Our servers were very attentive, and knew the menu, cocktails and wine selections without even the slightest hesitation. This is a true testament of excellence from the guidance of chef Michael Cerrie and the staff.
The fully stocked bar features handcrafted cocktails, local craft beers and a very respectable wine selection. The highlight is the Porthole Infuser – a cocktail infused with special herbs, fruit and top shelf liquor in a custom made glass canteen. We enjoyed a jalapeno grilled pineapple infusion with Dulce Vida tequila which is both visually impressive and delicious. Get to the restaurant early, as only 10 infusers are made daily and will be served on a first-come-first-serve basis. If you miss out don’t worry, you’ll still be impressed with a signature cocktail or two to pair with your dinner experience. Go for the Rosy Bacardi with lemon basil and black peppercorn.
We went in with an empty stomach, but left full and slightly plump. Small plates include andouille deviled eggs, johnny cakes with chicken and Rebecca Creek barbecue sauce, and brussels sprouts with candied jalapeños. The #16 Biscuits ($5) , so named because they were Cerrie’s 16th attempt to make a perfect biscuit. To start we enjoyed a few small plates like the Beet Chips, Crispy Brussel Sprouts, Deviled Eggs and of course the #16 Biscuits.
Our entrees included a hearty serving of Braised Short Ribs with Sweet Potato Mash and Green Apple Slaw as well as the Pan-Seared Chicken with charred corn grits and pork cracklin. I’m a sucker for a great steak so my favorite is the Prime Strip Steak cooked medium rare with a side of gratin potatoes. The Diver Scallops were among some of the best we’ve enjoyed in Austin. They’re plump and seared perfectly
The dinner service also features local musicians on an almost daily basis giving the restaurant a welcoming and lively atmosphere. Back in my parent’s days, if you felt the need to impress someone and didn’t mind paying for a great meal, you would probably dine at one of the fanciest hotels in town. The Westin Austin Downtown certainly fits in to that category as it is no stranger to a little taste of luxurious hospitality, and it aims to fulfill that long standing tradition with Stella San Jac!