Weekend of Favorites

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This holiday weekend we decided to celebrate by eating, eating and then eating.    It started with a Saturday morning trip to Snow’s Barbecue in Lexington, TX.   Snow’s is legendary and rated number one in Texas Monthly’s famed top 50 barbecue joints in the world.   Snow’s opens at 8:00 A.M. and is usually out of meat by noon!   We made the trek and waited in line for over an hour to sample their barbecue.   Unfortunately it was a tad disappointing.   Oh…it was good barbecue, but it’s not the best I’ve every had.   The brisket was a little roasty.   The pork shoulder was my favorite.   It was a pleasant surprise.   The sausage was good, probably top five I have tasted.   The pork ribs were pedestrian…solid but unspectacular.   I am glad I experienced it, but there’s just better options out there without having to drive two hours and wait another hour.

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The next day we decided to take no chances and visited my favorite hamburger joint in Austin…the Black Sheep Lodge.   Technically, Black Sheep Lodge is a motorcycle bar with a reputation for late night shenanigans, but I’ve never been there later than lunch.   The inside is nothing fancy with basic tables and booths and beer signs and posters as decoration.  The waitresses all look like suicide girls so you assume they will be cheeky and sarcastic, but we’ve always found the service to be strong with waitresses that are attentive and active.   Still, the star of the show is the food!

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A unique option at Black Sheep Lodge is the cheese curds.   The cheese curds are breaded and deep fried.   The outside is a light  with a hot chewy goodness on the inside.   It’s not a ton of flavor, but with a quick dip in ranch it works so well.   We get it as an appetizer every time and our only complaint is there is not enough.   The star of the menu though is the Black Buffalo Burger with buffalo sauce and blue cheese.   It is a monster, but not over the top gonzo.   The flavor is intense, the vinegar is cut with the pungency of the blue cheese.   The hamburger is fresh and moist and holds up to the layers of flavor being put on top of it.   I always pair my burger with tater tots!   I love tater tots.   I want them crisp and salty.   Black Sheep Lodge always nails the tots.

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My daughter always gets the hot dogs.  The hot dogs are really well made with real beef.    These are not cheap toddler dogs thrown on the menu for the benefit of the kids.   This is a real meal with a ton of flavor.   They also offer some healthy sandwich options and some creative gourmet type sandwiches.   They usually have at least one special sandwich that is  elevated in its combination of flavors.   I’ve had a couple of these sandwiches and have always found them to be spectacular.  This visit was no different than any other visit before…Black Sheep Lodge is the King of the Austin burger scene for me.

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Finally, we closed out our holiday weekend with a visit to Paesano’s.   Now I love Paesano’s…I don’t care if its authentic…I don’t care if its haute couture…I just love the food.   As always we started with the Giant Calamari!   I have never seen calamari like this any place else.  It’s giant ribbons of calamari meat breaded with a nice thick batter.   Its like a 1/2 inch wide and 1 1/2 inches long.   It comes with a sweet spicy jelly dipping sauce.   I don’t think my wife likes anything better than that sauce…all other calamaris pale in comparison because of that sauce.

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When it comes to entrees, shrimp paesano is always a favorite.   I’ve never had it, but nearly every person I have ever taken there orders it.   I can’t tell you what it tastes like but I can assure you just about everybody loves it.   For me, I like the pizza.   The crust at the 1604 location is my favorite.   Whether its the meatball pie or the SA Margherita, the crust holds up to the flavor.   It is not a crispy crust, but its not a soggy crust either.   It has a crisp outer shell, but is tender with a lot of air bubbles on the inside.   Not sure how else to describe it, but it totally works for me.    When I do order an entree, my favorite is the giant shell stuffed with sausage and spinach.   It is so good, but I’m a pizza man so I usually leave it on the sideline.

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This trip, we closed out our meal with a sampling of the desserts.   My wife ordered the banana bread pudding.  I ordered the coconut tres leches.   My daughter ordered our family favorite, the Tiramisu.   My wife’s banana bread pudding had a ton of flavors.   It had an abundant amount of toffee chips with that strong burnt sugar flavor.  The caramel sauce was a nice complement with a little less intensity than the toffee.   The banana bread  was a little dry, but had plenty of banana flavor.   With the ice cream on the side, there was plenty of moist makers in this dessert to keep it creamy and soft.

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The tres leches was coconut heavy.   There was not a ton of milk around the cake which was disappointing.   I’m a huge tres leches guy…because of the milk.   As a result, I was a little disappointed with the tres leches.

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Finally, the tiramisu rocked it as usually.   It comes with a chocolate straw that my family fights over every time.   The tiramisu is deconstructed and presented in a mug.   It is moist and milky with a gentle flavor of coffee.   The whipped topping is perfect in flavor and texture.   This is one of my absolute favorite places for desserts.

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Paesano’s is a slick, neat dining experience.   I always find the pace slow and comfortable.   Occasionally, you get lucky and can enjoy a side show like the polyamorous quartet dining three tables over this last time.   There lascivious public displays of affection spurred a heated debate at our table that carried through to the ride home.   Gotta love those unexpected gifts!

 

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