From chocolate tacos with a hint of ancho chile to modern spins on traditional ceviche, the newest restaurant at Four Seasons Austin offers many enticing opportunities to explore fresh combinations and twists on fine dining flavors.
If you’ve stepped into Four Seasons Austin lately, you’ve likely noticed not just some updated changes into the interior of the luxury hotel, along with a new restaurant and a new patio bar. Ciclo and Live Oak opened at Four Seasons earlier last fall with a menu that combines Texas and Latin food favorites.
“The combination of the foods felt very natural and seamless,” said Four Seasons chef de cuisine, James Flowers. “It is embedded in the way we eat around here. Visit any one of us at home and you’ll likely find chiles in hundreds of varieties, limes, corn tortillas, homemade salsas … the list could go on.”
Spanish for “cycle,” Ciclo’s name reflects its focus on menu offerings that change seasonally, from ceviches to grilled and smoked meats.
With dozens of combinations on Ciclo’s menu, I was able to try a sampling of some of the restaurant favorites, starting with Ceviche Amarillo (pictured above), which added a Texas taste on the staple appetizer that included scallops, shrimp, tuna, yellow aguachile, mango, cucumber and cilantro. Fresh, healthy ingredients along with fruity flavor of mango provided a delightful start to the meal.
In addition to the Ceviche Amarillo, we sampled Pork Belly Al Pastor, donned in pineapple compote, salsa verde, blue corn tortilla soil and pineapple chips, which added a special touch. “We experiment constantly with our ingredients, preparations and plating to distill that experience onto the plate,” said Flowers. “That’s really how dishes like our Pork Belly Al Pastor or our Sea Bass came about.”
Napa cabbage, snap peas, tomatillo jam, sesame oil and guajillo chile provided a savory combination for Ciclo’s Sea Bass. Another signature favorite? The Lomo Saltado, a plate of seared beef tenderloin, onions, tomato crispy shoestring potatoes and soy jus.
Overall, the Ciclo menu has more than 28 signature offerings for dinner and lunch, in addition to full breakfast and dessert menu. “Whether it’s a playful take on flavors of tacos al pastor, or an Asian dish reinterpreted with flavors from Mexico and South America, we want the dining experience to be dynamic and whimsical. If we can tap into guests’ food memories and experience, even better,” said Flowers.
Award-winning bartender Sarah Rahl also brings a lot to the table, including a special spicy poblano margarita rimmed with black salt that you can find at Live Oak, the patio bar outside of Ciclo.
Of course, no meal is complete without dessert and Ciclo definitely raises the bar for sweet treats. To be honest, the chocolate tacos were by far my favorite part of the Ciclo dining experience. Both sweet, salty and spicy with a taste of ancho chile and ice cream in the middle, the tacos provided the most unique dessert experience I have had in a long time, while hitting all the taste buds you could want, in one bite. Along with the chocolate tacos, our group also sampled bourbon bonbons, which came out atop smoking platters of smoke-infused wood. Despite the heat, when you bite into the bonbons, the desserts are very cold — and yes, they do have a strong taste of bourbon.
All in all, Ciclo creates a unique fine dining experience unlike anything else you’d experience at any restaurant in Austin. Plus, if you dine on a Friday or Saturday night, you will likely be able to find some live music entertainment at one of the other Four Seasons bars upstairs.
Ciclo offers Happy Hour from 5 to 6:30 pm daily and brunch on Saturdays from 11 am to 2 pm. Reservations for Ciclo and Live Oak can be made, but walk-in guests are also welcome.
Cover photo of Ceviche Amarillo courtesy Galdones Photography