Chef Chat, Part 3: Nick Banaszak of Hearsay Gastro Lounge

After talking to Chef Nick Banaszak of Hearsay Gastro Lounge about everything from grasshoppers to controversial hot dogs, we'd worked up quite an appetite. Lucky for us, we were in one of our favorite restaurants.

Not only is the food amazing at Hearsay, but so is the space itself. Located in the W. L. Foley Building, the second building on the block designed by prolific Texas courthouse architect Eugene T. Heiner, Hearsay's home was built in 1889. This is one of the oldest and most beautiful restaurant venues in town. High ceilings, elegant chandeliers, wood paneling, and tons of mirrors provide an old-world, yet somehow still modern feel.

It was the perfect ambience in which to enjoy our meal. First out was an appetizer sampler of Crab Cakes Quattro and Beer Battered Asparagus. The crab cakes were moist, flavorful, and perfectly delicate. They were served over lobster bisque and topped with a tomatillo salsa that added a nice zing to the dish. As Chef Nick himself said, "Anything fried is good," and that definitely applied to the asparagus. Big, thick stalks of the green vegetable were dipped in a St. Arnold's Christmas Ale batter and then deep fried to a crispy golden brown. The accompanying sauce was creamy, with a slight horseradish kick.

Next we indulged in a vodka-cured smoked salmon salad. Thin layers of freshly smoked salmon were draped all over this beautiful salad that also had a small pile of cornichons, artichoke hearts, crostini, and capers with a smattering of balsamic vinaigrette. The salmon was ridiculously good. It was not overly smoked, and managed to maintain a hint of the vodka flavor, a subtle smokiness, and utter freshness simultaneously.

We were very excited to try the Grilled Mahi-Mahi Hearsay Fish Tacos since we overheard a nearby table raving about them. They did not fail to disappoint. Even though we tend to be more into fried fish tacos due to textural preferences, the Mahi-Mahi held its own. It was firm, but still flaky and tender, with an amazing flavor that was enhanced by the housemade pico de gallo and spicy Habanero Sauce. Perfection. And the Southwestern Mango Slaw that accompanied the tacos was fantastic. It was the kind of meal that leaves one fully satisfied without a modicum of guilt.

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