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RO's Outpost in Spicewood [AUS/Hill Country]

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RO's Outpost in Spicewood [AUS/Hill Country]

MPH | Apr 12, 2006 11:18 PM

Lately, whenever I take a break from my mission to try all the authentic taquerias on the deep east and south sides, I head west from Bee Cave on Highway 71. Unfortunately, I got conned into driving right by the excellent Backstage Steakhouse in Spicewood (which I recently raved about). Instead, I tried the CFS at RO’s Outpost just a little bit up the road. It just goes to show you to that you have to be careful about taking tips from strangers.

RO’s is really friendly: just your typical family-run country cooking in a casual dining area consisting of a small porch, a few Formica tables in the front room, and a kitchen in back. (They only take cash.) I’ll get right to the review: The large portion of CFS was very tender from being pounded into submission and freshly breaded just minutes after I ordered it. But, the meat didn’t have any flavor. And sadly, neither did the breading. This could be due to simple under-seasoning, but the make-up of the liquid used for soaking the meat, the amount of time you soak it, the quality of the eggs in the egg wash, the kind of oil or shortening used for frying, and the cut of meat itself might all be factors. At RO’s, the result was a thick, damp batter that ballooned away from the steak in places and was slightly undercooked. Overall, the CFS tasted fried but bland. The gravy was neither a dark-brown beef gravy nor an off-white cream gravy; it was almost the color of Thousand Island dressing, only more brown than orange. And, it was faintly sweet.

There was one interesting side dish: the “fried” corn on the cob. This wasn’t battered or breaded, just dipped in hot oil long enough so that some of the kernels almost caramelized, which brought out the corn’s natural sweetness. Drenched in hot melted butter, the fried cob of corn was very tasty. The other sides were lackluster—-green beans right out of a can, standard cafeteria-issue fried okra, run-of-the-mill potato salad. Even the Texas toast was off, perhaps because it wasn’t thick enough to achieve the contrast of crispy, buttery griddled surface playing off a warm, soft interior. My dining companion ordered the brisket, which was only low sandwich-grade, as Scott would classify it. The place didn’t smell like smoke, so we knew this was a risky choice. I don’t really hold this against them, as they’re not known for their ‘cue. I mention the brisket because that cut of beef also seemed to lack distinction.

Now, their pies were pretty darn good! The high point of each of them was the filling. The blackberry pie was made with fresh blackberries, not pie-in-a-can, that were cooked just long enough to be soft without falling apart. The amount of sugar was perfect, and this double-crusted berry pie tasted great warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The coconut meringue pie was a thing of beauty. Flaked coconut in a rich, home-made custard--that was yellow from all the egg yolks--made up the base, which was topped with about five inches of textbook-perfect meringue. The pie crust was quite tender and good. This was due to the skill of the baker, since she just uses Crisco as her shortening. Butter and/or lard (which I love in a pie crust) add so much flavor that they can make up for bad technique. This cook didn’t need the help. Next time, I’m only going to order pie.

I know my first stop when I get to Llano. Anything to look forward to between Spicewood and there?

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