Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue

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Ralph Melton
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue 2013/08/27 22:54:29 (permalink)
Thank you very much. I'm very glad to read such kind words.
 
Work has made it hard for me to keep up with the forums this year, and so busyness and shyness have made it hard for me to reply to every kind word. But that is a great pity, because every comment like this warms the cockles of my heart, and it would be a better thing for me to give each one the appreciation I feel. 
 
So let me thank each of you who have commented on my reports. It is so much more pleasant to be telling these stories as part of a conversation instead of a monologue.
Ralph Melton
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue 2013/08/28 00:11:50 (permalink)
We had arrived at the airport around 2; by the time we had a voucher for a hotel room and left, it was nearly 6. We went to the hotel room (adequate but a little dingy) and collapsed on the bed for an hour or two. I massaged Lori’s legs, but wasn’t able to wholly banish the ache of standing in line for hours.

But at last we revived enough to consider seeking food. But we had little oomph for deciding, and of course we no longer had any plan to follow. But we called Adam in hopes of another chance of his company. It took us a while to come to a conclusion, but when I mentioned Shady Grove, Adam said it was a great evening for Shady Grove.
 
 

Shady Grove is listed on the Roadfood site, but I hadn’t tried hard to include it, because the review seemed halfhearted. And I thought that we were so aggravated that we wouldn’t be able to really enjoy any restaurant. But our experience at Shady Grove was simply idyllic. 

I think that we came at the perfect time to enjoy Shady Grove - both the perfect time of day and the perfect time of year. It had been hot during the day, but because this was April, it did cool down in the evening. So the weather had the balmy languor of a warm evening that feels cool by contrast.

And they were showing The Princess Bride, with subtitles.


I ordered the chicken fried chicken, with sides of black-eyed peas and green chile rice. 
The difference between fried chicken and fried chicken can only be explained in the context of chicken fried steak. Chicken fried steak is notionally beef fried in the manner of fried chicken - but the recipe has taken on an identity of its own. So chicken fried chicken is chicken fried in the manner of chicken fried steak, usually as a boneless chicken breast batter-fried and served with cream gravy. I don’t know what it would be called if you fried steak in the manner of chicken fried chicken. The chicken fried chicken was extraordinary, tender and crisp and succulent - it was head and shoulders above the chicken fried steaks we had had at Threadgill’s and Hoover’s.
The sides were both very good as well. The green chile rice had a strong capsaicin kick.
 

Lori ordered the country fried chicken salad and found it yummy. She noticed that the menu description said it came with fried green chiles, so she ordered them on the side because she has hardly any tolerance for chile heat. I’d expected that the fried chiles would be crouton-sized hunks or slices, suitable for eating in a bite as part of a salad. But these came in foot-long spears with little heat - they would make a great appetizer.
 

The menu says “Ask about our amazing desserts… they are deliciously homemade!” and in such matters we are nothing if not biddable. We ordered three desserts and shared them all.

The peach cobbler was the best cobbler of our visit. It had a crunchy, streusel-like topping.
 

Chocolate icebox pie was certainly, but to my fatigued palate, it tasted little different from a more common French silk pie.


Peanut butter cheesecake touches on one of my own food prejudices, but Lori and Adam enjoyed it.
 

Our evening at The Shady Grove delighted us far beyond my expectations. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it entirely compensated for the airline frustration, but it was certainly a brilliant silver lining.

love2bake
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue 2013/08/28 09:51:58 (permalink)
Hey--nuthin wrong with French silk pie!  It's one of my faves, and I'm not much of a chocolate fan.    That cobbler/crisp looks like perfection.
 
Great report!  Thanks again for sharing so much great info with us.
CajunKing
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue 2013/08/28 17:55:01 (permalink)
I have found like you that Shady Grove must be experienced, and from the sound of it you hit it at the perfect time of the day and year.
 
Congrats on your last second save of a grim situation.
ChiTownDiner
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue 2013/08/28 19:21:55 (permalink)
I am a big Hoover's fan of their CFS.  I am also a big fan of all your dessert pictures!  I'd go cobbler first also.  This past weekend I had a passable cherry cobbler one night and a mixed berry another night.  Love cobblers!
Sundancer7
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue 2013/08/28 19:57:38 (permalink)
Airports and flights are awful.  Three of my last four flights were either delayed or cancelled by American.  Massaging the legs of your friend must have improved your appetite.   
 
Paul E. Smith
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue 2013/08/28 21:19:50 (permalink)
I loooved the Chocolate Icebox Pie. It was mine, and I thought it was pretty darn perfect. Ralph isn't a chocolate person, that's why he didn't have much to say about it. It was silky, chocolatey, cold and perfect in my book. 
 
The Shady Grove meal was most excellent, and sitting outside, watching the Princess Bride occasionally, and chatting with my wonderful husband and awesome cousin while sipping a large glass of wine improved my mood greatly! The strings of colored Christmas lights decorating the yard helped too! :-)
Ralph Melton
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue 2013/08/28 23:22:32 (permalink)
On Wednesday, we had time for one spot before our return to the airport. We went for breakfast to Magnolia Cafe, which Adam had spoken well of. Their signage reflects a conscious Austin quirkiness: the sign at the street says “Sorry We’re Open”, and a sign on the wall points out that they are open 24/8.



The interior continues that theme with chaotic decor that reminds me of the late Lynn’s Paradise Cafe, in a smaller space with more art on the walls.
 

The piece de resistance is the brightly painted pterodactyl wearing a top hat.


My migas came out looking pretty, but these were my least favorite migas of the trip. The tortillas in the migas were very soft and provided no textural contrast, and the mushrooms and jalapeños didn’t add much to the dish.


Lori’s strawberry pancakes came out big and thick, but only of good-but-not-special quality.
Pancakes at Magnolia Cafe by Ralph Melton, on Flickr


We went to the airport and successfully left Austin. Some trip reports might not consider such things noteworthy.


In the Dallas airport, we saw a Salt Lick food stand. We had passed up eating at Salt Lick while we were in Austin, but Chris had texted us that they had eaten at Salt Lick in the Austin airport. he had said that it was of the same quality as Dickey’s, which is damning with faint parse. But almost all airport food is mediocre, and I like barbecue, so mediocre airport barbecue is as appealing as any other restaurant option. And eating there would let me add another place to my list of Roadfood restaurants, albeit with a very big asterisk. So we had lunch at Salt Lick.

It was bad. It was much worse than I expect Dickey’s to be. (Though in fairness, we ate at Dickey’s in DFW in July, and that was bad too.) Both meats came in a sandwich that was so sodden with sauce that it could not be eaten neatly. The sausage was bland and the brisket was gristly. We had hoped to it would be one last farewell to Texas, but instead it was just a reminder of the pleasures of returning home.
 


After four and a half months, my Austin trip report is over. I probably won’t write another report until we return from our next trip in October.

Hits of the trip:
Collin Creek Bakery
The Broken Spoke
Micklethwait Craft Meats
Southside market
Royer’s Round Top Cafe
The Austin Lounge Lizards at the Bugle Boy
The banana pudding at the Driskill Hotel
Mellizoz Tacos
Gourdough’s
Kreuz Market
Smitty’s
Texas Pie Company
Louie Mueller Barbecue
Shady Grove

Misses:
Threadgill’s
Amy’s Ice Cream
Donn’s Depot
Salt Lick

Plus a special extra raspberry for American Airlines.
post edited by Ralph Melton - 2013/08/28 23:24:22
CajunKing
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue 2013/08/29 15:54:22 (permalink)
Magnolia Cafe does remind a person of the late Lynn's Paradise.
 
Ralph and Lori thank you both for sharing this awesome trip with us, the sights of wonderful food, great friends an beautiful scenery.  You invited us along to enjoy and you both delivered.
 
I look forward to the trip report from Ireland.
agnesrob
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue 2013/08/29 18:47:11 (permalink)
Wonderful report Ralph!! I also can't wait for the Ireland report!
ChiTownDiner
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue 2013/09/02 17:47:40 (permalink)
I have been so dissapointed with my last several food choices at DFW....I just don't get the don't care attitude.
Sundancer7
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue 2013/09/02 18:34:25 (permalink)
ChiTownDiner

I have been so dissapointed with my last several food choices at DFW....I just don't get the don't care attitude.

 
CTD:  I assume you are talking about airport food.  If so, I totally agree.  DFW is one of my least favorite airports along with Chicago.  I have had the misfortune of having to spend the night several times at both airports.  They got cancelled late at night and to get a hotel at the late hour with a early flight out was not a option.  A airport is the most lonely place in the world at night.
 
DFW is a terrible food choice place any time and some of the terminals at O'Hare is worse.  United terminal is somewhat better. 
I use to be on 4-6 flights per week.  No more.
 
Paul E. Smith
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue 2013/09/03 01:49:03 (permalink)
Salt Lick was not good, to be sure. But I have to say, after the flight from Austin to DFW, I'm not sure if anything would have tasted good to me. It was a windy day, a small plane and a short flight. The plane rocked from side to side like a boat the whole flight, and I was pretty green by the time we landed. 
 
I liked the Magnolia Cafe, and it made me miss Lynn's Paradise Cafe all over again. However, I think the food at Lynn's was better. Magnolia Cafe is VERY good, don't get me wrong, but Lynn's was special. Maybe it was the disembodied legs wearing those styling polyester pants... 
ChiTownDiner
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue 2013/09/03 07:01:57 (permalink)
Sundancer7

ChiTownDiner

I have been so dissapointed with my last several food choices at DFW....I just don't get the don't care attitude.


CTD:  I assume you are talking about airport food.  If so, I totally agree.  DFW is one of my least favorite airports along with Chicago.  I have had the misfortune of having to spend the night several times at both airports.  They got cancelled late at night and to get a hotel at the late hour with a early flight out was not a option.  A airport is the most lonely place in the world at night.

DFW is a terrible food choice place any time and some of the terminals at O'Hare is worse.  United terminal is somewhat better. 
I use to be on 4-6 flights per week.  No more.

Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN


Paul - Yes, I was referring to DFW.  ORD is the same with one exception.  Rick Bayless has a place in Terminal 3 (American) in the K concourse near the food court.  It is superb!  I strongly recommend it.  Everything made fresh right there including the breads and chips.  CTD
Ralph Melton
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue 2013/09/03 20:39:49 (permalink)
There's a whole lot of dismal airport food out there. We ate at Dickey's in the DFW airport in July on the way to Chris and Amy's wedding, and it was almost as bad as Salt Lick.
 
We've eaten at the Rick Bayless restaurant in ORD once, and it was pretty unpleasant - it made me hesitate when folks were proposing Rick Bayless restaurants in Chicago.
 
My guess is that there's some extra hassles that make it a bit harder to run a restaurant in an airport, and airport restaurants get rewarded for "quick" and "conveniently located" much more than for "tasty".
 
I appreciate the interest in our Ireland trip. I had some second thoughts about whether to post that report here, since we won't be visiting any Roadfood-listed places. But I recalled how much I enjoyed kaszeta's report about Iceland, and dropped those second thoughts.
ChiTownDiner
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue 2013/09/03 20:50:41 (permalink)
It's what makes the world go around...I believe Rick Bayless' ORD Terminal 3 restaurant a great stop and if not behind security, a Roadfood stop and even a destination lunch stop!  Funny! 
CajunKing
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Re:Bluebonnets, Bats, and Beaucoup Barbecue 2013/09/05 17:08:59 (permalink)
Ralph - Ireland is waiting for you to introduce US to them.  It is such a beautiful place, the people wonderful, the food awesome, the atmosphere pure enjoyment.  Please, Please, Pretty Please with a wee dram o Irish Whiskey on top.
 
Any room in your suitcases?
 
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