A wonderful trip to Texas and Louisiana ( See New Orleans Board. Thanks for all the advice
Trulucks - Robin on his Jack Jones was recommended this Seafood place and he seemed to enjoy the rather large ( this will be another recurring theme in this report ) portion of Stone Crab with which he was served. Apart from that, I can't comment. He reminds me that he also enjoyed the ribbon like Onion rings in a tempur a like batter.
WACO ( en route to Austin )
Buzzard Billy's Bar & Grill - We plucked this lunchtime stopover at random from the pages of the reliable Lonely Planet guide to Texas. While it looked like it had been put together by a committee trying its best to create a "cajun" style restaurant, the food was actually pretty good and Robin managed to scarf 2 lbs of crawfish while I had blackened something or other.
At the suggestion of a couple of people whose opinions I value, we stayed at the Austin Motel. A funky, slightly run down but rather fabulous Motel in the South of the city. A mere $80 per night for a poolside room with private parking garage. I can heartily recommend this place to anyone wanting a cheap stay in a fun city.
Robin and I actively loved Austin. It had a very chilled feel and the people were distinctly less "up themselves" than so many of their coastal neighbours and indeed their friends across the water in London
Maggie May's - Slightly grim bar of the sort Americans do when they think they are building a pub. Nothing like one, but the ice cold Shiner-boch was only $2.50 per pint.
The Iron Works - This was our first introduction to Texas BBQ and it was not an auspicious start. The brisket was bone dry, the sauce was sour, the links were leathery and the chicken was stringy. Yipes!
Katz Deli - to make our selves feel better we had an unfeasibly large plate of cheesecake at this knock off of the NY joint ( run in fact by a nephew of the original Mr Katz in NY.)
The Salt Lick - Our second stab at BBQ and what a revelation. Superb brisket, Great links, fab chicken and wonderous beef shoulder. Robin and I were at odds about the sauce. He wanted them to serve it on the side so he could taste the meat . I loved the sauce so much they could have smeared me in it. I did in fact offer the waitress an extra $20 to do this but she slapped me ( odd fact, the one waitress not called Jessica or Tammy, she was in fact called Hilary, but she made up for bucking the trend by being extra perky and squeaky. )
The chicken ( not always a staple of Texas BBQ ) was superb and the rich fatty brisket made me forget the disappointment of the Ironworks debacle. I also took advantage of the fact that there were unlimited refills on the meat front ( chicken excepted )
Enjoyed so much that all we could do was flop in a cinema and watch Spiderman ( note to self. Would Kirsten Dunst in Spiderman kick Natalie Portman in Star Wars butt? Answer, who cares as long as I can watch and there is water and possibly Jello involved?)
Jo's - A fabulous little open sidewalk bar next to the motel who played cheesy Country songs ( My own fave was " It's been lonely in the saddle since my horse died" ). On a balmy night as we waited for a table at Guero's, I could have stayed there forever.
Guero's - A great introduction to half decent Mexican food. We had to wait for half an hour for a table and while we did we enjoyed very passable Margerhita's from the bar.
The meal itself was terrific and like much of our stay we were caught out by just how damn cheap everything was.
Good home made tortilla were light and worked well with a beef and chicken filling. Dips were fresh and spicy and the service was efficient
Perhaps the main reason for our visit to Texas. This was BBQ Town at its very finest. We were on route to San Antonio and did not have as much time as we wanted so visited three of the best Lockhart had to offer within an hour and a half.
Black's - Family style mixed plate of Brisket, Ribs, Shoulder, Links and Chicken. The links were the best I had in my whole stay and the sauce was the equal to that at The Salt lick. The Brisket was not so good but the whole was a triumph
Smitty's - Robin's highlight of the trip. The Slice of prime rib and the pork chops at Smittys were worth the trip by themselves. Served in the dining room of the original Kreuz ( pronounced Krites, I am told ) the food here is served on butcher's paper with not a fork in sight. The meat was so moist and flavourful here that I totally understood their insistence that they did not have to serve sides or sauces
Kreuz Market - A flying visit to the oldest and best known of Lockhart's BBQ. We bought far too many beef ribs and could not finish them. We got a go bag but forgot it when we left. The thought of all that good beef going to waste threw a large shadow over the rest of my trip and I am pretty sure I heard Robin sigh " those poor ribs" on more than one occasion. I am told Kreuz is not as good since it moved to its new site. I can only guess how good it used to be but it was pretty bloody good when we went.
When I die, I want to be cremated in the pits at Smitty's
San Antonio was the biggest disappointment of the whole trip. Mainly because we got it so wrong. Many people had told us that it was a great town with good eating and a real spirit. We didn't see any of that.
Robin had booked us into a great hotel downtown, but apart from the surprisingly dignified treatment of The Alamo, the rest of the downtown sucked. The bars were bad and the restaurants were all tourist traps. We were there for two nights and ended up visiting two places
Swig - A Martini bar where the drinks were like making love in a canoe ( f**king close to water- old joke and even worse were the drinks themselves which seemed blessed with the total absence of alcohol.)
Mi Terra - A well known Mexican tourist trap ( but not well known but to us ) actively the nastiest restaurant I have ever visited in North America and I have been to a Dairy Queen
I would be thrilled if someone would tell me what we did wrong and where we should go next time. We are determined to go back and find out what we missed.
After the horrors of San Antonio, we needed to kick back a bit and our trip to Galveston proved just the filip we needed.
Ocean Grill - We didn't eat at this seafood place, we just sat back on their pier and watched the sun go down while drinking four or five bottles of Shiner.
Willie G's - We stopped for dinner here and had a few more beers while waiting for our table. To be honest by the time the food came we were well on the way to being in no state to know if it was good or bad, but my recollection was of a very good grilled Red Snapper which we both had served with an excellent Sauvignon Blanc.
We followed this up with far too many Maker's Marks at a bar called 21 and woke the next morning with the mother of all hangovers. If I recall correctly, Robin awoke wearing a Tutu. That is just his own private hell though and nothing to do with excessive drinking.
En route back to Dallas
Ray's On The Square - Sat in the back, listened to a rather good musician, drank beer ate shrimp. What's to discuss.
Billy's Cracklin' - Best Cracklin ever and bought from a gas station store. Go figure. Got to love this country.
Lenny's Ranch House BBQ - lunchtime stopover after looking for the hidden gunman. A pale imitation of the BBQ that had gone before. I don't believe that Lenny acted alone.
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse - Robin was determined to have a big bugger off steak and who was I to argue. Starters were huge and pointless. The main reason to be here was a perfectly cooked 16oz rib eye, a 26oz double strip and wonderful onion rings. All washed down with a good Syrah.
Service was again exemplary.
Joey's Deli - Lunchtime salad and soup in a chain deli. I lived
The Mansion on Turtle Creek - what a way to finish our trip. I had heard mixed reviews of this place, but again it came up trumps.
The bar drinks in the bar were slightly off ( a Pink Gin Up anyone? ) but from then it was all up.
The Maitre'd turned out to be a Bengali from near our hometown in England and made sure we were well looked after, although I don't think he needed to as the service was spot on.
An amuse of black walnut cheesecake was memorable as were starters of Foie and Scallops ( served with a good Sauternes ) and Quail ( fried and crunchy and served with a Pinot Grigiot ) were bang on
To follow, Robin tried a superb Salmon, perfectly cooked in a broth containing oysters beignet and a slightly pointlessDuck Chimmichaga, scallops and shrimp. I had Lamb. For once this was a native lamb from somewhere in the Midwest and was so much better than any other lamb I have ever had in America.
Desserts were again a weakness, but they aced the Mint tea test.