Although primarily to reconnect with family and friends, my other purpose to visit the United States was to explore further cuisines and navigate the restaurant and bar scenes.  Aside from the travel itself, an integral part of the journey for me is what and where I feed.  This break in routine is another opportunity to expand one’s knowledge and educate ever eager palates.  You have not the convenient access of your own kitchen, your well-orchestrated spices or your strategic utensils and tools.  The local supermarket and shops that you trust, supplied with well-sourced meats reared by credible farming methods and vegetables plucked from organic fields, glisteningly fresh from a regulated water spritz are left in the familiar neighbourhood territory you departed from.  Your awareness of local knowledge and commendable eating holes (matched with vicinity to public transportation or reduced crime rates) are switched to dormant state as you consider your destinations offerings instead.  So the comforting plan, for any venture away from home, is to at least have one good meal that you can reminisce upon in future conversations.

I am somewhat fortunate though, as I not only have a personal vested interest in restaurants and food selection in general, I also manage to surround myself with like-minded companions with mutual attitudes for hand to mouth options.  I therefore knew my 1st trip to San Francisco would not be a negative eating experience, based on my resourceful and equally curious friend Teresa’s internal radar for quality places.  I had no doubt in my mind of her judgement on where to eat so blissfully stayed on auto-pilot as I left the steering to her.  Similarly, my cousins Shane & Chad are as notorious as I when it comes to seeking our sustenance (woe betide anyone that might delay our family from the activity of eating when hungry, few have survived) and furthermore suggestions from equally gourmet minded Damon ensured my Austin stay was also extremely positive.  My own dietary requirements had to be a little adapted on this occasion as I have succumb to nutritional advice to follow a higher protein, lesser carbohydrate based intake.  This is not in the interest of fad rituals dear readers, I can assure you my loss is your gain, particularly as whilst subject to this nil by mouth means of self-preservation, I simply admired the wealth of cake, bread and pastry choices that positively dripped from all corners of the country and can at least share them with you (I did succumb on occasion. I am but human after all).

SAN FRANCISCO, California

ALCOHOL

Bourbon &  Branch

Based on Teresa’s familiarity with staff behind a door, I was able to whet my whistle with a well-crafted cocktail on arrival in San Francisco.  An unassuming corner bar with a small collective of post-work suits gathered outside this establishment, that is so dimly lit when you enter the hostess warns you of the steps you are about to tread on inside.  A bar perfect for debauchery I thought,  as I imagined secret trysts and forbidden love affairs being conducted here.  Candlelight provides the only means of visual guidance as your ears are pleasured by the sound of Prohibition Jazz and you squint to read through the extremely extensive cocktail menu.  I did not really explore it though as I was recommended the Cuban Punch, a combination of rum, champagne and juice which induced an assertive nod from my side, eventually leading onto a 2nd order due to its deliciousness.  Book in advance if you want a table, alternatively you can be led through to the library door where the hostess pushes through a wall of books to lead you to a slightly better lit bar with a reduced menu.  Be sure to wear sunglasses on exit though (if during daylight hours), as the contrast of light and dark might disorientate you.

CAFFEINE

Four Barrel

America is equally abundant to the UK with its chain heavy offerings of coffee shop, being responsible for the international spawn of Starbucks, but nonetheless, it is at least possible in San Francisco to also source a better cup.  Four Barrel is bountiful with wonderful coffee and unlike the hipster laden Farm Table (which I mention later on) it is on the larger scale for premise size.  It has its own Roastery in full view at the rear and should be considered the equivalent of a wine-tasting session when it comes to the roasted bean.  Espresso tastings are available at the front and the main counter buzzes with a dedicated team of savvy staff whose skill at making your coffee is as good as their music choices (a vinyl selection sits prettily for the staff to drop the needle on).   Cakes (of course) also meet you at the ordering lane with doughnut choices including a rose chocolate flavour as well as flourless almond cake and a blueberry almond croissant, to name but a few.  Beautiful people also grace the interior, whilst outside, do not be surprised to inhale the scent of marijuana emulating from the non-coffee cup holding hand of a local.

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DINING

Lers Ros (THAI)

With the multitude of Asian and Mexican cuisines in the City, you could easily wander into a miss when you are looking for a hit.  Fortunately I was able to be led to a divine Thai restaurant, whose plates triggered many murmurs of contentment through each mouthful taken.  The Warm Grilled Shrimp Salad, riddled with fresh leaves, onions and an extremely moreish spicy sauce was a joy from first to last bite.  A 2nd main dish of Chicken in a Spinach and Peanut sauce also incited wide smiles, so flavoursome and fresh I kept willing for the dish to never end.  Sides of steamed brown rice (ordered for 1 however easily feeds 2, if not 3 or 4) and broccoli were the right balance and soaked up the wonderful sauces from each main dish.  Had my trip been longer I would easily have eaten here again.  Highly recommended.

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Farm Table (Brunch/European)

A wooden oasis within a not particularly inspiring area, this small coffee and brunch place is possibly best frequented on a weekday if you have any hope of sitting down inside at the one main communal table.  There is outdoor seating too though, due to the small interior, enabling further customers to sample their simple homemade pleasures.  On the day of my visit, the main menu lists 4 choices including Eggs on Biscuit with candied bacon & whipped goats cheese and the Daily Toast with peaches, vanilla mascarpone, pistachios and berries.  Due to my preferred low-carb regime, I opted for the Frittata of sausage, autumn squash and pecorino with a basil aioli.  Served room temperature, it was not over seasoned and well paired with its condiment although admittedly for breakfast, I could have eaten more (but just as well I left hungry as I was more than satisfied later on at Tartine).  Their oven seems to churn out repeated baked goods as I spied fresh Tomato Focaccia, as well as profuse sweeter options such as Almond Yoghurt Cake and various muffins. Coffee is excellent and provided by 2 roasters (Verve and Roast from Oakland) with the possibility of Almond Milk too should you take it white.

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TARTINE (European)

Another bread paradise for many (you can buy their bread here to take away) it served plentiful other choices which was an immediate positive for me.  As well as a wonderful evening menu, lunch time was my meal break and it was well versed.  Whilst I observed many of the attractive locals indulging in the Tomato and Cucumber Salad with blue cheese that day, I wanted something different and opted for one of their sandwich options instead, minus the bread (oh how I wish I could have, however my focus must stay stubborn) which the staff kindly indulged.  The Whipped Goats Cheese was a creamy lick of loveliness on my plate, accompanied by the freshest girolle mushrooms I have tasted in a while, amidst artistic strokes of white bean spread and sweet onion jam.  I ordered a side too of the Sauerkraut pickle with aubergine chilli that sated my vegetable craving and ensured I left full.  I was elated after enjoying the last mouthful and enviously gazed over my fellow diner’s Vietnamese Chicken sandwich, heaving under the weight of a perfectly baked bap.  A glorious glass of sparkling Austrian Zweigelt played host to my palpable dish and I left with pangs of withdrawal for the wonderful flavours.

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Mission Beach Cafe (European)

A final brunch and a slightly glazed ‘morning after’ head needed nutrients, so we ventured to the comfortingly assured in good choices Mission area again for our meal.  Another diverse menu, the brunch and lunch options were varied but a choice was made after some deliberation for the Eggs Benedict and the Avocado & Grilled Chicken Salad.  The coffee was also well brewed and provided a much need lift to my mid-morning mind.  Although I could not indulge, I visually absorbed every crunch and fluffy goodness of the Kona potatoes that shared plate space with the divine Eggs Benedict concoction, unusually riddled with a truffled mushroom sauce and perfectly sautéed spinach on English muffins.  My Salad was perhaps not as large as I would have preferred, however the chicken was well charred and the leaves dressed well with a fresh sauce.  No doubt those of carbohydrate indulgent dispositions will gain more from their visit as the dishes of huge hunks of French Toast with sugar sprinkles and berries, as well as a Smoked Salmon Crostini spotted nearby looked splendid.

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GROCERY

Bi-Rite Market

Always on the lookout for new ingredients to utilise or dish variations to consider, I adore visiting food stores internationally.  As a lover of considered produce too, I was eager to enter the Mission’s Bi-Right store, which although similar to the Whole Food Market phenomena, is infinitely better.  My eyes lit up with child-like amazement as I interrogated the aisles, spotting new bottles and packets that I visualised stocking my imaginary kitchen in my imaginary apartment nearby.  Snack choices that I had not previously spied included Roasted Almonds in Truffle Oil and Sea Salt, Doshi Chips and other popcorn delights not seen before.  My eyes switched further to fridges swelling with Almond Milk choices, refreshing Kombucha varieties and tubs of frozen yoghurt that I had to begrudgingly walk by.   Organic wines and beers chilled patiently, whilst shelves full of every type of consumable good riveted browsers like me.  There were endless jewels that I only wish I could have indulged in, so should you ever need to buy groceries or source picnic material to consume at the nearby park, I implore you come here first.

AUSTIN, Texas

Austin was once home and will always be a City close to my heart, not just for the music and creative scene that is inherent within the hearts of its residents but in particular due to their love of GOOD eating.  Wherever you wander you will be struck by the many food trucks, restaurants and bars that consider the interest of sustenance a primary need and therefore it must be diverse (its proximity to Mexico is a heavy influence on their cuisine), profuse and innovative.  I of course indulged my own curiosity actively when residing here and I was keen to explore new or undiscovered territory on my more recent expedition.  I bring to you some offerings that should be considered an important pursuit if you are ever fortunate to include Austin on your travels.

SWAY (Modern Thai)

A Thai place began my Austin experience, much like my San Franciscan adventure and it was a dreamily hot day as usual to pull up to the South of the River establishment.  The menu is diverse and was a lot more eclectic in menu choices than the average Thai.  Small dishes and Large dishes feature and our waitress advised us to get a large dish to share rather than one each (I would opt to disagree on this suggestion though due to my cousin and I’s appetite.  We are not greedy people, but if you come hungry you will easily ingest a main course by yourself).  Large wooden tables greet you on arrival, some possible to share and further bar stool seating near the rear, with the ever popular open plan kitchen tucked at the back.  Chefs work busily to create very attractive dishes and we decided on a shared starter of Shu Mai which contained 4 perfectly formed dumpling parcels of crab, shrimp and cuttlefish wrapped up in a rice noodle case and topped off with trout roe.  Two bites each simply heightened our appetites and we waited eagerly for the main course of Tigers Cry which comprised of a hangar steak sprinkled liberally with Thai basil, mint and crispy shallots in a spicy sauce with further chilli oil on the side to heighten your need for heat.  Steamed rice forms the side to this meal and we also chose the Morning Glory side for our vegetable intake (if you have not eaten this green, you should try it.  It is a stalky, leafy green which I consider a combination of spinach and pak choi).  The flavours were well considered with these dishes and the Tigers Cry was a very pleasant spicy plate that became addictive however we had minimal time to wait longer for another course to sate our stomachs so picked up the check instead.  The menu is intriguing indeed and although we were unable to utilise it fully, you should certainly attempt it yourself.  The drinks menu is equally diverse, lots of wines to pair perfectly with the spicy food as well as Sake, Kombucha and other soft options.  I even tested the ‘Drinking Vinegar’ which I have never seen before, simply a concentrate of sugar, vinegar and molasses that is diluted in sparkling water.  An understandably popular venue with large groups and well-stocked purses.

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EAST SIDE SHOWROOM (International)

Unassuming from the outside but full of dim-lit vibrancy on the inside, I was visually stimulated on entry and charmed by the checked shirted and tattooed up staff.  A well-stocked bar stands prominently behind the maître-d in front of the entrance and is suitably accompanied by well-crafted cocktail making bar staff, vigorously jiggling a shaker in each hand.  The cocktail menu lists classic and vintage cocktails, with darling waiting staff also available to guide you towards the most pleasing choice suited to your sour or sweet taste buds.  I sadly lose memory of my chosen one but it was repeated again as it was so well matched.   And now onto the food, which was as ravishing as the cocktail supped prior.   Specials were drawn to our attention which were explained in detail, one of which we chose.  Our selection of plates began with the Chickpea Fries which were akin to polenta chips that I have had before (in a good way). An ‘angry’ tomato sauce flowed like lava over the chunky logs, soaking through the crisp chickpea coating to provide a wonderful balance on the tongue with sprinkles of parmesan and parsley to add an edge.  The large portion of Mussels, soused in a beer and romesco sauce with long pieces of toasted ciabatta were wonderful, every lick of the shell could not contain enough of the sauce for me and my two family companions and I waited eagerly for the other to finish their turn so we could dive back into the mussel pool of merriment.  Grilled Gulf Shrimp was another good choice, joined by fennel, grapefruit and an avocado salad, with toasted almonds and Serrano adding a further crunch.  The shrimp had lost none of their body from grilling and were as juicy in the mouth as on the plate. An additional dish, which was one of the specials, was Braised Beef, so meltingly soft in the mouth that a murmur of pleasure followed every chew, graced by a lovely plum and crème fraiche sauce and some roast potatoes.  No desserts opted for (a common problem for myself in Texas as I find it is true; everything IS bigger) however please go right ahead.  There is live music some evenings and the place is polished in both menu and atmosphere so consider it a guaranteed good ‘fed & drank’ disposition.

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PARKSIDE (International)

This restaurant & bar in the centre of the hedonistic district of 6th Street is interestingly placed.  It is somewhat in contrast to the more ‘cheap shots’ and all you can eat buffets nearby however that makes it somewhat of an oasis in the desert.  Appetite was high when my cousin and I arrived and we furiously read through the menu which was profuse and refreshingly varied.  We went for a taster of each grouping, something from the ‘raw bar’, a starter (or two) and a salad.  The Sea Bass which was marinated in lime and chilli was laid in chunky slices of perfectly ripe avocado.  After it’s brief appearance on the plate, we were giddy over the Lump Crab Fritters laid alongside a ‘ravigote’, a picquant herby sauce.  Crisp and steaming with lovely lumps of crab meat inside, their appearance was also fleeting, as were the following salads of Spinach and Raw Squash.  Satiety was reached but greed remained so we thought it only wise for a nibble of the Calamari (I consider this somewhat essential to taste everywhere, as though it is the test dish for a return visit) with a paprika aioli and some Broccolini with chilli oil and sesame powder.  Our waters were ever-full thanks to the attentive bar staff and we were highly satisfied with our visit.  Please go, it provides some respite from the exuberant drinking holes on 6th Street at the very least.

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KOME (Japanese/Sushi)

Sushi is popular everywhere and no less in Austin, in particular with the renowned Uchi as a key resident in the City.  It was not to be this dining spot for tonight though (a little more dollar needed if it were the case) however we visited a no less wonderful place called Kome.  Eager staff once again look forward to seating you and guiding you through the menu if you are not sure of your Nigris from your Sashimis.  Advice was to choose 2-3 dishes though and I did well to heed our waitress’ words.  A bar seat and plenty of choice, I opted for Grilled Salmon, a Scallop Carpaccio and a Seared Bonito Sashimi salad.  I admit my ignorance with Japanese cuisine so implore you to read through the menu yourself which will probably rivet you more than my feigned description.  I can say though that none of it was disappointing.  Fresh, clean flavours, plentiful wasabi and ginger to hand (weakness for wasabi is yet to be classified) with wonderful combinations of sea and ground fruits.  The wine list also reads well and I opted for an excellent Reisling.  A charming spot and whether I manage to visit Uchi in future or not, I will not feel any deficit by coming to this superb sushi spot in town.

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ELIZABETH STREET CAFE (Vietnamese/French Boulangerie)

My first solo meal and (another) blisteringly hot day in Austin led my wandering feet to the doors of this ‘French’ Vietnamese kitchen with boulangerie.  Charming girls with the prettiest check dresses and braids in their hair greet you at the door, your head already cooled down by the refreshing mists of cool water wafting in the breeze at their porch.  Egg shell blue walls and cake-stands filled with their baked treats also tease your eyes however I was in need of savoury and I was led to my desired table outside.  A typically Vietnamese menu, with profuse choices and a buzz from the working lunch crowd making the most of their hour of freedom.  I chose the Grilled Octopus Bun and although there were options of a soft-boiled egg or fried egg roll, I did not fancy either option and checked with my waitress with the endearing smile whether I could have some extra grilled shrimp as well.  Whilst expecting a negative response, I was happily given the green light on my request and looked forward to my bespoke dish.  Smoky, charred tentacles of octopus were generous with my artistic bowl of flavours, with mint, coriander and basil providing the triad of freshness to the equally fresh vegetables to my meaty protein.  My 2 meaty shrimps were also pleasing and I felt rather smug about my choice however do remember that you pay for what you ask for.   A lovely pitstop nonetheless, with some unobtrusive table guests in the form of feathered locals that made me feel like a momentary Snow-White.

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SALTY SOW (Modern Meat Eating)

London is already ingratiated with head to tail eating with St John’s restaurant and various other new concept places and I imagined it no different in Texas however I had not heard of this spot, deemed as the newest snout to heel eatery.  I trust recommendations (based on their appetite and exposure to eating out.  One can misconstrue fast food places as culinary experience) so upon a dear one’s suggestion, I gave the affirmative response to this location.  The menu is certainly meaty and might be a tad daunting to unfamiliar palates but I would encourage you to put comfort zones aside or not come in the first place.  A group of 6 of us meant we would be able to enjoy a good range of dishes and that we did with the Hors D’Oeuvres ordering the Charcuterie Board which was a wooden landscape of meat bounties featuring a pork rillettes, pate, smoked salmon, chicken mousse, cheese, pickles and crisp slivers of ciabatta to enrobe with a chosen topping. Boudin Fritters were also served up which were crisp shells of rice and meat, rather similar to arancini and no less fulfilling.  A slab of Salmon Pastrami was also ordered up and whilst I was imagining thin slivers of cured salmon, we were presented with a whole fillet dusted in a spicy seasoning (the pastrami connection made through this).  Very tasty though and laid a light foundation for the carne-heavy courses yet to come.  The Brussel Sprouts Caesar Salad that I sadly did not partake in looked rather wholesome too.

Another good round up and we continued good eating with the Candied Pork Belly which was served with collard greens (a vegetable I had not really heard described as such before and very similar to spinach crossed with cabbage) in a soy balsamic syrup.  Excellent and crisped on top, the sweetness of the syrup was paired well with the saltiness of the pork.  Another delectable plate was the Petite Bone-In Filet (otherwise known as T-Bone of course) which was in a rich red wine bone marrow sauce.  Meltingly tender meat and swirled in this decadent dark pool it was another wise decision however I was still eager for the recommended Milk Braised Pork Shoulder served with white beans, escarole and Pecorino.  Topped off with some light pork scratchings, I was truly enamoured with this pork dish which seemed to let me tear away almost never-ending strips of the softest, juiciest pig meat.  I exuded sounds of pleasure and did not need many sides however the vegetable board is necessary to balance out the protein fix.  Absolutely no room for dessert once again however the earnest and eager to please waitress might well convince you otherwise.  I was a little more resilient on this occasion by the beckon of live music and change of venue but you don’t have to resist.  An interesting meal out which should stimulate your stomachs as much as your other senses.

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LENOIR (Innovative International) 

A birthday meal on this occasion and another change of scene, this time an entirely new spot for all company present, Lenoir provides a Prix-Fixe menu with dishes hailing their origins from Field, Sea, Land and Dream.  What could be considered pretentious is actually not so much, mainly due to the candid dead-pan humour of our waiter (customer service is constantly impeccable in the US based on the tipping service so wit is bonus material when you can get it).  We were advised to choose 3 items each and that we did, all arriving in no particular order but with each course separately.  I decided to adopt a similar approach with the wine list which was very well stocked (much to be admired with a large range of Austrian choices, including a Heidi Schrock I had never heard of before).  I began with a Gamay (blanc de noir) (Réserve de Lavernette ‘Granit’ from France), had an intermission with the Weissburgunder Heidi Schrock (Neusiedlersee-Huggeland from Austria 2009) and ended with the dessert wine Grenache Domaine la Tour Vieille ‘Banyuls’, a languedoc from France 2010.  The aperitif was refreshing, the intermission was expressive and a good change from Gruner Vietliner for me and the dessert wine was not too sweet (residual sugar is not always welcome I find with sweets).  Pity I had not tried a Red but the important business of eating was a more urgent pursuit.

The dishes were so varied but consistent in careful presentation adding to the whirl of joyfulness on the night for this birthday girl.  The Rice Paper Raviolo was splendid, a silky pouch of aubergine (apologies USA, ‘eggplant’) drizzled with salsa verde and flecks of soft cheese with a curious bulbous pouch in the middle that when popped exuded balsamic-like streams of sauce.  Riveting.  The Summer Cucumber Salad was clever too with fine strips of cucumber forming pasta-like strips to the sauce of egg gribiche (just like mayonnaise but made by emulsifying hard-boiled eggs instead), corn puree and other verdure.  Most of the table were intrigued by the Soft Shell Crawfish on a sour pork sausage, thai herb salad and fish sauce vinaigrette.  The Mississippian at the table had never heard of such a crustacean description, none of us had, so consumption was obligatory.  It was certainly good to look at, however imaginings of soft shell crab cannot be compared.  The Guinea Hen Soup was expectedly comforting, just like ramen, coming with a single long swirl of kasu noodle within a ham broth and sprouts.  Roasted Pork Sausage came served with okra, shrimp balchão (a spicy mix of corn and other East Indian spices) as well as some coconut rice (reminiscent of glutinous rice from the Philippines I have had, a ‘sticky’ consistency grain).  It was swept up quickly and was a good balance of flavours.  The Poached Himachi (a Japanese white fish like Yellow Tail) was served up with an olive oil-fumet aioli, mushrooms and potato salad, with some fish roe nestled in the aioli.  Great flavours again and polished off speedily.  The final savoury plate (we only missed off two of the listed choices that seemed somewhat unchallenging amidst all the other unfamiliar names) was Grilled Quail with marinated aubergine (eggplant!), bell pepper and a blueberry soy sauce.  It seems quite the fashion to have blueberries in meaty dishes of late with a blueberry infused saucisson I noted from my local butcher recently but the fusion on this occasion was good.  Lovingly presented, it was not an easy plate to share though as the vertically challenged quail is really only suited to the hand of one.  Dessert time approached and I was beaming from the light of the birthday candle burning on top of my Caramelized Lime Cake with hibiscus peaches, pistachio semifreddo and pumpkin seeds.  By far the best choice of three, my generosity knew no bounds when the other 3 spoons attacked.  A good crunch to the tooth that combined textures I adore of cold, soft, crunchy and sweet.  Had it been cooler outside, a warm sauce would have been perfection but this was quite a treat regardless.  The Coconut Custard (very similar to panna cotta) came with a delicious chocolate sorbet, figs and malted chocolate crumble.  It was a little more decadent and rich compared to its competitors, including the CFC Farms Chévre, a dollop of creaminess which came with drizzles of Texas honey, adorable little melon balls and kalonji crackers (kalonji is a black cumin seed which is apparently a cure for everything except death).  After heaving a satiated sigh of gratitude to my lovely table dwellers, I pondered on the visit to Lenoir.  Every ingredient in each dish dared to present more unusual combinations and teach your tongue something new, which I quite liked, challenging your mundane habits are good.  We were all explorers in one way or another anyway, so no doubt a return will be due.  Even just to listen to the startling anecdotes that the waiter comes up with when describing the food and wine.

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EVANGELINE CAFE (Cajun & Creole)

I begrudgingly write about Evangelines due to its relative anonymity amongst tourists, revered by locals as an excellent Cajun restaurant that could easily go unnoticed by passers-by.  On approach from outside with my friend I could only assume it was closed, however the red-lit sign stated otherwise and upon entry I was presented with lots of character and plenty of Southern charm.  Booted up and denim shorted waitresses sidle up to your table with their cutest smiles as you deliberate over the <no spice or butter spared> menu, with everything from Gator bites to creamy Chowders.  We had a basket of Fried Pickles to begin with which was unfortunately rather addictive however I withdrew my greasy fingers a little earlier to look forward to my main course.  I am a fan of Catfish so this was an easy decision for me, with the addition of grilled buttery shrimp served with ‘dirty’ rice (pieces of hamburger meat are broken up into this devilish side that is certainly filthy but delicious nonetheless).  A waitress offered a selection of sauces which I fail to remember however I rarely decline a condiment and dipped excitedly into the triad of dippers.  This restaurant was one of the few that I had been to with such a fine selection of hot sauces so I was impressed from the beginning, all of which made my tongue tingle with delight.  My friend’s Jambalaya was also ‘dang good’ but I was most satisfied with my Catfish.  Stop by and indulge your heat cravings, just don’t spread the word ‘too’ much as its much more charming with the locals there.

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SHADY GROVE (USA/International)

With a huge outdoor eating area laid out beneath the shade of a large tree’s branches (hence no overthinking necessary for it’s namesake), this is a bit of an Austin institution as it is en route to the ever popular Barton Springs and is also another music venue.  Aside from these sidelines, it is indeed a place to frequent due to its informal food menu featuring sandwiches, entrees and fried this & that.  Every time I have come to Austin, I have always eaten here.  The food is not expensive and whilst it might not be on par with some of the newer options in Austin, it is reliable nonetheless and there’s something about going back to the same place and being rewarded with a meal you remember tasting the same as the last time.  I chose differently on this occasion though and opted for Green Chile Grilled Chicken which comes with a choice of 2 sides.  With a warning of spicy, I must have skipped that sensitive gene pool as chilli in my food is almost as essential as water in the desert.  So I still requested additional hot sauce, to immerse my chicken which came smothered in melting cheese, crisp bacon and chile sauce.  Coleslaw and collard greens were my sides of choice but you can mix it up with almost anything else including options of home fries, black eyed peas and mashed potato.  My cousin opted for her usual which was a Hippie Sandwich, a selection of grilled vegetables, mozzarella and pesto mayonnaise layered up, providing a false although delicious reality of a healthier meal.  You can make it a ‘Hippie Chick’ and add thai grilled chicken too.  Frings (named accordingly due to the marriage of Fries & Onion Rings served half & half in a basket) were ordered up as her sides and although visually enticing were not so much in the mouth.  Do not be dissuaded though, it is a wonderful venue to kiss goodbye to loved ones or a cheerier hello whilst in the City of Austin.  And I’m also a fan of their t-shirt ranges so scoot by if in the neighbourhood.

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