Rolling on the river

30 Aug

This summer has been INSANELY hot in Austin.  Being outside is like taking a stroll in an Easy-Bake Oven, minus the delicious baked goods. In order to cope with the heat, sometimes you need to get creative; let’s face it, you can only stay indoors so long before cabin fever sets in and your sofa cushion becomes perfectly molded to your posterior. For my husband and I, thinking outside the box means burrowing underground… deep, deep underground. Not with a shovel and bucket, mind you, but spending a couple of hours  at Longhorn Caverns, in Burnet County. It stays a cool and lovely 68° all year round — like Barton Springs Pool, but less wet.

The caverns are part of Longhorn Cavern State Park and bills itself as a Texas Hill Country wonder. After our trip underground, we stopped for a bite to eat in Marble Falls. While tempted by the pie happy hour at the classic Blue Bonnet Cafe, we opted for River City Grille instead.  Overlooking Lake Marble Falls, it’s a nice little place with great views (considering this drought and the lake levels, ‘great’ may be pushing it) and a ton of seating both indoors and out.

The food isn’t fancy by any means, but their menu had a nice variety, which undoubtedly comes in handy when groups visit. I took a chance and ordered the fried catfish sandwich, then crossed my fingers and sighed. I have a love/hate relationship with catfish – I want to love it so bad because fried catfish looks so good, but I’m constantly disappointed with it.  There is a weirdly dirty taste to catfish sometimes which gets me a little too close to my food. I picture actual catfish, where they live, those creepy whiskers and the crazy (and I do mean CRAZY) redneck sport of noodling. After those images shuffle rapid-fire through my head, the last thing I want to do is eat.

This delicious sandwich was not brought to you by noodling. Thank god.

As our waitress set my food down, I braced myself to be disappointed. But with that first bite, the heavens opened up and the noodling hand of God came down to touch me — the catfish was hot, crispy and clean-tasting!  I squirted a wedge of lemon on it, smeared some tarter sauce on the generously buttered and toasted bun, and proceeded to gorge on my delicious fried catfish sandwich and the equally tasty fries. We made room for dessert and split a piece of carrot cake. It was moist and sweet and served up warm, which caused the cream cheese icing to melt into the cake. I had to call it quits after a few bites, but it gave me the ooey gooey dose of sweetness I’d craved to round out the meal.

So if you’re ever around the Highland Lakes area in the Texas Hill Country, stop by River City Grille for a good meal. Oh hell, who am I kidding? If you end up at Blue Bonnet Cafe instead, take full advantage of their pie happy hour, because really — who the heck thinks up a pie happy hour?! Go forth and enjoy.

-A.

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