Tag Archives: Dinner

Gettin’ down when you’re high: Eating Denver

15 Jun

A friend recently took a trip to Denver and it reminded me of my business trip to the Mile High City late last year.  For four days, I was trapped in a hotel attending seminars and presentations with only a distant view of the snow-capped Rockies on the horizon.  Anyone who’s traveled for business is undoubtedly familiar with the sub-par hotel food and drive-thru meals that make up the bulk of the trip; it is the lucky few who can take a business trip and enhance their experience by finding good, local eats. This post, my friends, is for the latter group.

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Day 4: The Driskill

25 Apr

A Side

To close out ARW Spring 2011, we decided on the historic Driskill Grill, situated inside the Driskill Hotel. The Driskill was built in 1886 and screams classic Texas with its dark wood and leather. It was like we were on the set of Dallas awaiting J.R. We were joined by a fellow foodie friend, L, who is a wacky, but loving mom to an 18-month old. She handed off the kid to her husband to join our twosome and regale us with stories of a 14 oz. porkchop she went to town on at a local steakhouse.

B Side

All who know me know that I hate paying for parking — especially on a week day evening with the sun in the sky. Aside from dumplings and sausage, one of my greatest pleasures is scoring free street parking within a reasonable walking distance to my destination. So, suffice to say, I was late arriving to the Driskill. Still, I’d always wanted to try the Grill, and was excited to arrive. Walking though the hotel, it’s not immediately obvious where the entrance to the restaurant is — if you take a sharp left, you’ll end up at 1886 Bakery (another place hosting ARW). After a few texts to A, I found my way to the Grill, and felt immediately under-dressed.  I was happy to see the host did not, in fact, treat us like low-class street urchins. Nevertheless, one look around told me the only way I could ever enjoy a meal here was choosing off a fixed price menu.

gimme more!

Day 3: Olivia

21 Apr

A Side

As I got out of my car, I noticed three cats lying in Olivia’s garden sunning themselves while looking extremely content.  I’m an animal lover so I took this sight as a good omen for our third night of ARW — and it proved to be just that.  The garden had a cute little patio area which we were given the option of being seated in but opted not to only because it was a little windy and B’s allergies were bothering her that day.  So instead, we sat inside the restaurant in a booth that had a good view of the kitchen.  Everything was bright, clean, open and very mid-century.  They’ve only been around for a few years, but have gained quite a following by using fresh ingredients with many of them being locally sourced or straight from their own garden.

B Side

Did you hear that? It was the sound of our collective jaw hitting the table. From top to bottom, Olivia is swoon-worthy, and the fact that we stopped sharing bites from one another’s plates shortly after the appetizer was cleared should tell you exactly how good it was. I seriously want to fold this place up and put it in my purse, so I can have a meal here whenever I’d like.

gimme more!

Day 2: European Bistro

18 Apr

A side

The European Bistro is in Pflugerville and for someone who lives in South Austin (that’s me), it’s a bit of a drive.  So B and I made a plan to carpool to P-ville, since she’s North-Central. Honestly, had the menu not drawn me in with its promise of tasty meats and potato products, I would have nixed it altogether. We drove through Main St. in downtown Pflugerville and see the restaurant in a cute little brick building.  Walking inside, I notice the decor is a mish-mash of stuff.  Some knick-knacks that you would expect and others you wouldn’t, like hearts made out of red-foil tinsel.  Maybe they were Valentine’s decoration rejects? Ken, both our host and server, sat us at a table right next to the dessert case and proceeded to tell us about the place.  They have been around for nine years with this year being their first as an Austin Restaurant Week participant.  The owner/chef is a Hungarian woman who has been cooking for 40+ years, since she was 14. This, I thought, is promising.

B side

Have you ever driven to Pflugerville on a Sunday in the late afternoon/early evening? It’s really…umm… quick. We left at 5:45 for a 6:30 reservation and were cruising into what the locals call downtown at 10 after 6pm. It’s not exactly a hot spot of Sunday dinner activity. Were I a church-goer, I suppose I’d know that Sunday is reserved for the large, stereotypically Southern post-worship meal. I much prefer to attend the church of Sunday Sausage… but I digress. European Bistro has an interesting dichotomy going, in that it’s in a little town square, across the street from a BBQ joint. And the signage is very small town deli. It seems like it’s going to be really straightforward and laid back. You walk in, however, and it’s a lot more elegant than one might expect – two stories, some ornate decor ( I saw no such V-day rejects) and several little alcoves in which couples (or families!) could eat with a smidge of extra privacy. It was virtually empty on this Sunday afternoon, but I was nonetheless intrigued.

gimme more!

Day 1: The Mansion at Judge’s Hill

14 Apr

A side:

After finally navigating the various spots of construction around this place, I took a seat to wait for B.  It was early evening, not too hot, and as it seemed, not too many allergens swirling in the air.  You gotta be careful with allergies here in Austin, they’re like ninjas.  They sneak up when you least expect it. But back to the topic at hand — sitting outside on the building’s wrap-around porch evoked visions of Gone with the Wind and Southern belles.  The Mansion at Judge’s Hill is not only a restaurant, but a hotel and special events venue as well. It’s gorgeous and stately, with large columns out front. Situated near the UT campus, it’s actually much larger than it appears to be from the street. The inside seemed like someone’s grand parlour kicked up a notch or two.

B side:

I was late, as usual; it’s a chronic thing with me, it seems, though this time I can blame my also chronic habit of inadvertently double booking myself. Mister and I had tickets to a show at Antone’s, so I forced him to drop me off and pick me up, so we would only have one car. I’ve wanted to try Judge’s Hill for at least two cycles of Restaurant Week, and was quite excited they let me in looking as windblown and sweaty as I did. As soon as we were inside, though, there was zero doubt why this place sells itself as a premiere spot for romance. Chandeliers, beautiful dark wood, intimate dining room, quite atmosphere — it was very grown-up. I immediately felt out of place.

gimme more!