|301 Hwy. 290 West
Dripping Springs, TX 78620
This is a great holiday feel-good story as well as a review of the finest restaurant in Dripping Springs and far south Austin called Creek Road Café at 290 and Highway 12.
Some years ago the Exec Chef Chae Donahue was diagnosed with COPD. As Creek Road flourished under his impeccable direction, Chae was badly in need of a lung transplant. Still he hung in there cooking with son Brad and chef Robert Walczyk. Finally Chae had to leave work, and lingered on the transplant list until last August. Meanwhile, Robert stepped up and kept Creek Road hitting on all cylinders. Chae finally found the donor, the transplant was successful, and I actually saw him at the restaurant a few days ago looking well. This couldn’t have happened to a nicer and more talented bunch of guys.
Creek Road works at just about every level the discerning diner could ask for. The appetizers are beautifully crafted. The Barton Creek Breaded Brie is about as good a version of this as I’ve tried in Austin. And there is always a soup du jour that will flat-out deliver on every imaginable level. The Crab Cakes are loaded with lump crab meat and breaded to insure the appropriate balance of texture and taste. And they are terrific. Very little filler: all about the crab here. The crab-stuffed Artichoke Bottoms are another treat: this is a dish that is light yet substantial, and the sherry tomato cream sauce is the perfect complement.
The entrées have been known to shock and even amaze those unsuspecting patrons who have found this place by accident (as is often the case) because they’re terrific.
My favorite is the Trautwein Sauteed Shrimp. Named after a nearby road, these shrimp settle ever so peacefully atop a bed of cheddar and smoked sausage cheese grits until they are happily displaced by hungry diners like me. What a dish! And second in the area only to the colossal pork chop at Perry’s, the Pedernales Pork Chop is an inch-thick paean to all great and tender pork chops. It’s glazed with jalapeno and cilantro infused honey and it just flat out rocks. Another classic Creek Road entree is the ever-so-crispy and not-in-the-least-bit greasy Canyon Lake Duck Breast. The flavors here require you to be anchored to your chair lest they blow you across the room. The Muscovy breast is brushed with a hoisin citrus glaze and of course served medium-rare. It takes talent to do a dish like this correctly and Creek Road has this in abundance.
And if Carrot Cake moves you as it does me, then by all means try a slice of this addictive confection. It’s THE best in the city.