2023 Week 19 – Giddy Up

I Spent most of last week on PTO in the Texas Hill Country and loved every minute of it. I flew down to San Antonio, picked up my better half, who was down there for work, and drove north to Comfort, TX, about 45 minutes northwest of the city.

When I booked the Trip, Enterprise had some very affordable options, including several premium models for just a little more than a full-sized car. I ended up with an Audi Q3 SUV for the trip and really enjoyed driving around the Texas roads. You’ll first notice the speed limits if you’ve never driven in Texas. On a 2-lane curvy road, the posted speed limit is often 10-20 MPH higher than in Indiana (70MPH +), and on the highway, it can be as high as 85 MPH. The little Audi was a champ and got surprisingly good gas mileage as we traveled between locations at speeds that sometimes felt too fast!

Our B&B (Hotel Giles) was an old hotel built in the late 1800s and was very nice, with covered porches and a gazebo in the back. Our host was very gracious and had a wonderful breakfast ready for us at 9 am sharp every morning. The town also had an amazing little wood-fired pizza shop in an old gas station down the street with delicious pizza and homemade gelato that was some of the best we had ever had.

Fredericksburg, TX, is often referred to as the Napa Valley of the South because of the number of wineries in the area (over 100), and it was our destination of choice for several days of the trip. Their Main Street was full of specialty shops, restaurants, breweries, and several wineries.

While this was the first time I’ve gotten out of San Antonio and visited TX Hill Country, it will NOT be the last. So many things to do, and in typical Texas fashion, the people are as nice as can be and openly welcome visitors to their great state.

SlapFish opened a new location in the Fishers District a few months ago, and we finally made our way over there for dinner. We ordered a Shrimp Roll and Fish and Chips. Both meals were very fresh and fairly priced (under $20 each) for the portion size. We don’t have any dedicated seafood restaurants in Fishers, so SlapFish is a welcome addition to which we will be returning soon!

And finally… I’m a pretty observant person, and I see a lot of crazy stuff on my daily travels to and from work in Indianapolis. Expired license plates are seen daily, and their sheer number makes me wonder how people are getting away with it. A quick search turned up a 2019 report from local TV station WRTV titled “Parking a car with expired tags or no license plate is illegal in Indianapolis.” It’s not a local issue, as a TV station out of Oregon reported something similar last May:

And Colorado less than a year ago:

Indianapolis – Eddie Merlot’s

Last Friday, after a long work week, we received an invite from our good friends to go to dinner (good timing!).  Several options were on the table but one stood out, Eddie Merlot’s.  Having never dined there but hearing lots of good things we grabbed a reservation (surprisingly easy to do on a Friday night) and headed out.

I declined the Valet Parking since there were parking spaces right by the door (**rant in a future blog post**) & we met our friends in the bar.  The hostess greeted us and said our table was ready whenever we were (good start so far since many places over book and you still wait for a table even with a reservation.  I’m talking to YOU Bonefish & PF Changs!).

After a few minutes of catching up with our friends we headed to our table and met our waiter who was very friendly.  Since this was our first time at Eddie’s he explained the concept of the restaurant and offered some suggestions from the menu.

We started with a few appetizers for all of us to share including the Shrimp Cocktail, BBQ Shrimp & Fried Green Tomatoes (the last one being part of the Farm-2-Fork promotion currently going on).  The Shrimp Cocktail is brought out on a bed of dry ice and is quite the head turner.  The Shrimp were very large, nicely chilled and accompanied by a spicy (horseradish) sauce.  The BBQ Shrimp were wrapped in bacon, grilled & covered in a tasty BBQ sauce.

Finally, the Fried Green Tomatoes had a nice tasting coating and the dipping sauce was pretty good.  The problem was they were sliced a little too thick for the amount of time they were cooked.  This resulted in a fairly raw and crunchy tomato.  We mentioned this to our waiter who quickly sent the manager over.  He agreed with the thickness issue, exchanged some pleasantries and promptly removed the item from the tab without another word (continuing the good service for the evening).

Here’s how the appetizers stacked up (I’m only ranking what I actually tasted):

  • Shrimp Cocktail 4.5 out of 5
    • There were four pieces in the order.  Six would have resulted in a perfect score
  • BBQ Shrimp 4.5 out of 5
    • Same comment as above
  • Fried Green Tomatoes 2 out of 5
    • These had potential but were sliced to thick & not cooked long enough

Three out of the four of us at the table had steak,  two filets and one rib-eye.  I can’t pass up a quality rib eye & this one was no exception.  Perfectly cooked med-rare and covered in sautéed mushrooms, just the way I like it.  This was a good steak & I didn’t want it to end.

The fourth member of our party ordered off the Farm-2-Table menu and selected the “fried” chicken.  It was more like a quartered chicken that was roasted and stuffed with Swiss cheese and ham (reminiscent of a chicken cordon-blue).  The small sample I had was very good.  One of the better chicken dishes I’ve tasted in a while.  This may be my selection on our next visit if the promotion is still going on.

Our sides included more sautéed mushrooms , asparagus , steamed broccoli and truffle Parmesan fries.  Everything was good with the exception of the fries.  Our waiter even said they were not his first choice but I was being stubborn and ordered them anyway.  He was right.  The fries were oily and pretty bland.  Having been warned, I learned my lesson and did not make a fuss.

Scoring for the main course:

  • Rib-eye (med-rare) 5 out of 5
    • Great flavor, perfectly cooked and nicely trimmed
  • Filet (med-rare & medium)
    • I was told it was cooked perfectly & that’s not always easy to do with this cut
  • Chicken 5 out of 5
    • My bite was juicy, tender and left me wanting to order it in the future
  • Mushrooms 5 out of 5
    • Great flavor and a nice mixture of fungi
  • Asparagus 5 out of 5
    • I had one sprig, pretty hard to screw this one up
  • Broccoli
    • I’m told it was good but I did not waste room in my belly for this
  • Truffle Fries 1 out of 5
    • These could have been much better but, even if they were, still not worth $8

We’re already somewhat food drunk but the good conversation and nice atmosphere lead us into dessert (something I rarely get).  My wife and I split the Red Velvet cake & our friends ordered the Apple Peach Crisp and Berry Cobbler.  Three of the four of us had coffee which is something I find myself getting more and more after a big meal.  I know it’s a little old fashioned but I like the nostalgia.

Dessert Ranking:

  • Red Velvet Cake 5 out of 5
    • There was enough for all four of us to share.  VERY good and just as good the next day
  • Apple Peach Crisp
    • I was told this was really good
  • Berry Cobbler
    • Another good choice

Our overall first impression of Eddie Merlot’s was quite favorable and we are going to definitely add this to our short list of places to go for an upscale night out.  Our daughter has a birthday (14 yrs) coming up and this may be a good place to take her to celebrate the occasion.  She’s turning into quite the foodie and I don’t think the quality will be lost on her at all.

This is definitely not one of the least expensive meals you can get in the Keystone area.  Our bill topped the $200 mark before gratuity but that included a couple of cocktails, apps, entrees, sides and a desert.  We definitely ordered a lot of food and will probably be a little more restrained on the next visit.

I’ll have to say that Eddie Merlot’s has lived up the praise it’s been given.  From the friendly staff to the quality of the food and relaxed atmosphere it has left a very positive impression on us and we’re already looking forward to visiting again.

Eddie Merlot's on Urbanspoon