Back in March some eyebrows were raised when I issued my brand new Top 25 list of fine dining restaurants.
There for the first time was a restaurant in Dripping Springs of all places.
I remember our first meal like it was yesterday. Chef Chae made a Clam Chowder with a Thai accent that was extraordinary. We then had a Braised Brie cheese appetizer with sliced apples and brandied nuts. And then the Trautwein Shrimp was a study in texture and flavor with avocado atop smoked sausage grits. And finally a slice of the best Carrot Cake I have tasted anywhere in the city. To say I was stunned would be putting it mildly. I was delighted!
Since then Creek Road has continued to evolve. Chae, after a remarkable and speedy recovery from a lung transplant, has been joined in the kitchen by Rob Walczyk. They have earned their Top 25 status. And then some!
But other restaurants have followed Creek Road. Rolling in Thyme and Dough, a bakery/restaurant draws a big crowd right next door. They have wonderful breads and pastries along with a variety of grilled sandwiches. And they do a communal dinner on Thursday nights that owner Fabienne presides over. Charming place.
Across from Creek Road is Austin native Joe Cave’s The Pizza Cave. The Italian Sausage and Pepper pizza is excellent along with the Penne with Vodka sauce. And Joe has come up with his version of Clam Chowder called Piggy Chowder that has a huge fan base. He’s about to release a new pizza based on the same concept.Just down 290 from Creek Road is Crepe Crazy. The restaurant is owned and operated by a hearing impaired couple and they employ hearing impaired staff. And the crepes are amazing. I highly recommend the Mediterranean Crepe and the Ham and Cheese. They have wonderful breakfast crepes and an astonishing dessert crepe with brown sugar and cinnamon and butter. There’s a lot of pointing and gesturing that goes on as you might expect. And as a result an occasional ordering snafu. But all in all this is a terrific little restaurant. The Mercantile opened several years ago on Mercer, the “downtown” of Dripping Springs. They broke the liver pate barrier and have come up with some delicious tapas including a Fried Chicken and Churros dish that is irresistible. Also love the Shushito Peppers. And do try the marinated Wagyu steak. Just north of The Mercantile is Homespun Kitchen and Tavern. Owners Jennifer and Randy took the old 131 Cafe and turned it into a neat little bistro. They survived a flood and emerged all the stronger. My current favorites are the Black Drum in a burre Blanc sauce and the and the Chicken Schnitzel. Also the Deviled Eggs have been a staple since they first opened the doors. The Sunday brunch has a Benedict dish with scrambled eggs, queso, pico de gallo, sausage and bacon on an English muffin. They are also huge supporters of local musicians and there’s live music both nights. The newest player on the scene is a little 32-seat gem called Epicure which is located in a small strip mall across from HEB which also houses Schlotzky’s and a TCBY.
Julio Llop is the chef and co-owner of this charming little bistro that specializes in a dish with Grilled Bultifarra sausage, roasted peppers, potatoes and a fried egg. OMG!
All of these restaurants are within a half mile of each other and they form a nexus of eating pleasure that is blissfully new and welcomed in Dripping Springs.