"After years of continuous eating,'A Girl has to Eat', a self-confessed food lover and eat-aholic, has been spurred on to create her own food guide & blog. Read about her fabulous (and sometimes not so fabulous) culinary adventures in her restaurant reviews. This and more!"

Franklin Barbecue – Austin, Texas

Posted on Saturday, 8th November 2014

Franklin Barbecue

Franklin Barbecue

The next day, after my meaty dinner at Sullivan’s, I ventured to Franklin Barbecue for even more meat. Much has been written about Franklin Barbecue with some press publications alleging it to be the ‘best’ BBQ in the United States. Franklin also featured on Anthony Bourdain’ No Reservations series, and in the movie Chef, Chef Carl Casper stopped off at Franklin Barbecue in his food truck as he drives through Texas.

So what makes Franklin Barbecue so famous? There are many factors, one of which is the quality A-grade meat that they use. Franklin Barbecue also uses an especially dry Post Oak wood which has been cured for 9-12 months that helps to impart a special mild smoky BBQ flavour. Franklin also adopt a slow cooking technique, one that they have refined over the years. Depending on the meat, the cooking process can last for up to 18 hours, at cooking temperatures of between 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit (about 107c to 121c), to produce that incredible melt-in-the-mouth effect for which Franklin is so famed.

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Sullivan’s Steakhouse – Austin, Texas

Posted on Friday, 7th November 2014

In Texas meat is king and nowhere did I experience this more in Texas then in Austin. Dinner one night was a steak meal at Sullivan’s Steakhouse, an American chain that had its origins in Austin some twenty years ago and is therefore an Austin institution. Alongside its hearty selection of steaks is a varied selection of seafood starters and mains dishes as well. Side dishes are also plentiful as is customary in a US steakhouse.

To start your meal at Sullivan’s I would thoroughly recommend the ‘knockout martini’ ($11), the Sullivan’s signature cocktail. This is made using Clementine vodka, infused with fresh Hawaiian gold pineapples for two weeks and it is this long slow infusion that provides the martini with its ‘knockout’ flavour. This martini easily deserved its signature cocktail status as it was delicious, beautifully sweet and yet delightfully refreshing.

Seafood starters on the menu included a jumbo shrimp cocktail ($16.50) containing five pieces of firm and reasonably tasty shrimp served with a well made cocktail sauce. Another seafood starter of shrimp and lobster bisque (bowl – $9, cup – $7.50) bore more similarities to a chowder rather than a classic French lobster bisque with a rich lobster flavour. It was pleasant in taste, and also a little spicy and would therefore offer a certain appeal for the most typical of American palates.

Sullivan's Steakhouse - Shrimp cocktail

Shrimp cocktail

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Lone Star Court Hotel – Austin, Texas

Posted on Thursday, 6th November 2014

Next stop Austin. The capital of Texas is a hip, happening city and prides itself on being called the ‘Weird City’. But it’s not so much weird as extremely liberal, with a thriving live music scene and a reputation as the live music capital of the world. It is also emerging as a new destination of choice for tech startups and consistently ranks number one for jobs in the US on the Forbes’ annual list. It also scores highly on other demographic rankings as well and openly embraces alternative life styles. In short, Austin is a cracking city.

I loved Austin and there is much for the tourist to enjoy. Rather than me listing all the things that you can do in Austin, check out this website. I followed many of the tips on here and enjoyed every place I visited (including Franklin Barbecue, but more on that in a later post). In fact I loved every minute I spent in Austin and I hope if you visit this fabulous city that you will too.

Lone Star Court Hotel

Lone Star Court Hotel

While in Austin I stayed at the Lone Star Court Hotel. The hotel is located in an area of Austin called The Domain, Austin’s newest commercial and residential district, which is about a 15 minute drive from downtown. It’s not the most centrally located hotel, but in Texas EVERYONE drives. A boutique hotel, Lone Star Court Hotel is every bit as quirky as Austin itself. Visiting the hotel is like a trip back to a bygone era, with the hotel being designed in the vein of a ‘retro-ranch’.

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Hotel Valencia Riverwalk – San Antonio, Texas

Posted on Tuesday, 4th November 2014

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk - The patio

Hotel Valencia Riverwalk – The patio overlooking the Riverwalk

From Houston I headed to San Antonio, a city famous for its basketball team the Spurs, the site of the Battle of the Alamo, and the beautiful San Antonio Riverwalk. The Riverwalk is a gorgeous network of walkways that run for about five miles along the banks of the San Antonio River and is a showcase in first class architectural design. It is lined with bars, shops and restaurants and connects a number of the city’s tourist attractions and forms an important part of the city’s urban fabric. San Antonio is a city filled with a quirky irresistible charm and an effervescence that is surprisingly delightful.

Perched right in the centre of the city with views overlooking the Riverwalk is the Hotel Valencia Riverwalk, a boutique hotel listed on Condé Nast Traveler Gold List of World’s Best Places to Stay. The hotel is a beautifully proportioned hotel, romantic in its essence and unique in its design. The rooms are stylish and spacious, and comfortably appointed with luxurious furnishings which allowed me to perch my head for a wonderful night’s sleep.

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Hotel Icon Houston

Posted on Monday, 3rd November 2014

Hotel ICON - The lobby

Hotel ICON – The lobby

The award winning Hotel ICON Houston was formerly the Union National Bank, a statuesque landmark building erected in 1911 which was converted to a hotel in 2004 and is now part of the Marriott Autograph Collection. Erected with a limestone and brick façade, it’s a palatial building that reflects the grand neoclassical architectural style of the time. Today Hotel Icon continues to maintain many of its original touches such as the Corinthian columns and decorative features of Roman Gods. And now this sense of history has also been intertwined with a modern urban Texan décor to produce a result that is the ultimate in comfort and style.

Hotel Icon is located in the business downtown area and offers fabulous access to the city’s attractions including the theatre district (the second-highest concentration of theatre seats in the country), galleries and museums, Market Square, Houston Pavilions, Discovery Green and Houston’s sports districts. It also operates a handy free shuttle service to any location within the downtown area and is the only downtown hotel on the 7.5 mile, state-of-the-art Houston METROrail light rail line

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Eleven Eleven Houston – Sunday Brunch

Posted on Sunday, 2nd November 2014

Eleven Eleven in Houston is a restaurant and bar that serves Southern Coastal Cuisine with a twist. Alongside the likes of dishes such as citrus tea brined game hen and pecan-smoked baby back ribs, there’s also a raw bar that serves a variety of crab and lobster plus 10 to 15 different kinds of oysters daily. It’s an eclectic, unconventional menu with an equally detailed beer and wine list and an inventive cocktail selection.

Eleven Eleven - Cocktails

Cocktails

Eleven Eleven is housed in a 1940s home in the artsy residential area of Montrose. With its brickwork walls, dark earthy tones and a leather interior, Eleven Eleven has a loungey feel that draws in a hip and trendy crowd. There’s also a large relaxed outdoor patio area, perfect for the American social institution of brunch.

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BCN Taste & Tradition – Houston, Texas

Posted on Saturday, 1st November 2014

BCN Taste & Tradition in Houston, Texas is one of the latest fine dining additions to the Houston dining scene and pays homage to the very best of Spanish cooking. The restaurant is named for the airport code of Barcelona, the birthplace of chef Luis Roger, who began cooking as a child under the guidance of his grandmother. Finding love of cooking at such a young age led him to study at the Spanish culinary school, Escola d’Hostaleria Hofmann and a 20-year career as a chef that has included stints at the esteemed El Bulli.

Today, Roger’s menu at BCN Taste & Tradition brings together all of his culinary experiences and takes the diner on an explosive journey that blends tradition with the latest culinary techniques. Many of the ingredients are imported from Spain to uphold the essence of a true Spanish experience.

Located in a 1920s house in the beautiful artsy residential area of Montrose, BCN Taste & Tradition is discretely tucked away on a street corner. The décor is elegant but understated with a softly spoken colour scheme of sand-and-white. There are original works by greats Miro and Picasso on the walls to uphold he Spanish theme.

BCN Taste & Tradition’s exploration of Spanish delights begins with appetisers including the likes of a beautifully smooth and rich home made foie gras terrine ($22) accompanied by a lightly dressed side salad. Also delightful was a poached quail egg ($16), our dish of the evening which was perfectly cooked with a runny yolk. A dream to eat, it was immersed in a wonderful smooth potato foam and a topping of seasonal truffle.

BCN Taste & Tradition- Foie gras terrine

Foie gras terrine

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Hotel Sorella and Radio Milano

Posted on Friday, 31st October 2014

Houston, Texas is a sprawling city that is home to plentiful eating and the famous NASA Space Centre. During the first two days of my visit to Houston I stayed at the luxurious Hotel Sorella, located in the vibrant CityCentre development which is home to a number of sophisticated retailers, plentiful dining options, commercial office buildings and luxury homes. The hotel is sleek and stylish and designed with custom made details such as a unique European Murano glass chandelier and graphite colored ceramic floors.

Hotel Sorella - Lobby

Hotel Sorella – Lobby

The rooms are comfortably appointed with those on the upper floors offering sweeping views across Houston. There is a well-equipped spa and fitness centre and a variety of meeting room options for the business traveller, including a 4,000-square-foot ballroom.

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