I consider myself a foodie, and in Austin these days, there are no shortage of new restaurants to try. In fact there are so many new places, they often close before I get a chance to try them out. The options for fusion and Italian are endless, but sometimes I want to go old school. It’s nice to have a more authentic experience from time to time, which brought me to Emerald a few weeks back. I had driven by it on Hwy 71 for 20 years and was always intrigued by the charming exterior, but I had never actually stopped in.

Walking in the door a lot of descriptors came to mind; charming, quaint and original were just a few. Although I am a fan and practitioner of modern and simplistic design, I couldn’t help but love this place because it was the exact opposite of all of that. There was lace everywhere, the carpet was green, and the napkins were maroon. The wine glasses were crystal and the plates were adorned with Celtic designs. It was exactly what I imagine a restaurant to be in a small town in the Irish countryside.

The woman who runs the place is Michelle Kinsella, and she has been doing it for 33 years. Her family moved here all those years ago when her sister was attending St. Edwards. She greeted us as we walked in, she was our server, and for all I know, she was the one who was cooking as well. You’ve never met a kinder, more soft-spoken person.

The food was delicious. A few people got steak, a few of us got the special, which was red snapper topped with shrimp and a rich cream sauce. It came with a pile of carrots that melted in your mouth. I don’t think many people would write about carrots, but these deserved a mention. My favorite part though was the flambeed onion soup. This was the coolest presentation I have ever seen for this dish. The soup was served in a giant onion on top of a little bowl. The onion was topped with a piece of bread and copious amounts of cheese and then lit on fire tableside. Unfortunately, I had to share it with everyone at the table. No Irish meal is complete without an Irish coffee topped with whipped cream. So we had a couple of those for the table while Michelle wrapped up our leftovers into adorable little tin foil swans.

I would absolutely recommend Emerald if you want to get out of the craziness of “new Austin” and into something a little more cozy and intimate. Michelle will greet you with a smile and make you feel right at home.

Geneva Might, Upstaged Home Staging + Interiors offers vacant and occupied staging services, redesign and holiday event planning to Austin, TX.  To book a consultation, visit www.upstagedaustin.com, or call 512.541.0698