Written by Joshua A. Hughes
Megaphone News Editor
Saturday night, the air outside of the Georgetown courthouse had the heavenly scent of smoke. The source was the Taste of Georgetown event, which featured some of the city’s best and most well-known restaurants offering samples from their menus, being hosted inside.
Guests in line outside the courthouse waited to enter for the 7:00 tasting, the second of the day. The Georgetown Downtown association had advertised the event as “an adult cocktail party” where the dress code was “denim and diamonds.” The clientele, which was made up mostly of the middle-aged population of Georgetown, apparently did not get that message however, because the crowd gathered outside on the cool early evening was dressed in everything from shorts and Hawaiian shirts to slack and jackets.
Once 7:00 came, the doors were opened and people made their way inside. The courthouse had three floors of foodie bliss for those in attendance. Those who worked their way from the top of the building down started their evening by enjoying wine from local vineyards on the third floor, including D’Vine Wine of Georgetown, Lost Creek Vineyard and Chisolm Trail Winery. HEB was also on hand, serving cheeses to pair with the wine selection.
The second floor showcased foods from some of the more well-respected restaurants in Georgetown, including Down the Alley Bistro, Romeo’s, The County Seat, Duke’s Smokehouse, Patron and Montana Mike’s Steakhouse. Silver and Stone, a fine dining restaurant opening later this month, was also present. The samples were surprising. Some restaurants lived up to their reputation while others seemed like they must have brought along the wrong dish to feature.
Romeo’s served three Bruschetta: one topped with a chickpea puree and prosciutto, another a pepperanato, which featured bell peppers, and a tomato and artichoke spread. Of the three, the only one worth ordering would be the tomato artichoke. Its blend of tartness and sweetness was perfect – making the whole mouth water as soon as the fresh tomatoes touched the tongue. Where this topping went right though, the others faltered. The chickpea spread tasted earthy and bland, and the grainy texture was unpleasant on the tongue. The addition of the prosciutto could have added some much needed flavor, but its presence was just too scant. The pepperanato seemed pickled, having a strong aroma of vinegar and a very acidic taste. Think a salsa that burns the mouth without any spice.
The County Seat brought several dishes, including an incredibly moist piece of pork with a spicy flavor reminiscent of the dry burn of black pepper. The noodles that accompanied this cut had a distinct flavor that paired well with the pork but had trouble standing on their own, and the side vegetable medley that centered around green beans and carrots was nothing special. The County Seat also brought its red curry mussels – which went so fast that servers had to work to keep them available – and a spongy bread pudding in whisky-butter sauce that used the alcohol to wonderfully subdue the richness of the butter.
Having the chance to sample Silver and Stone, a restaurant that is expected to be the new spot for fine dining in Georgetown, left me intrigued. While the pan-seared venison (deer to the uninitiated) with a blueberry-cucumber salsa was generally a letdown – the pleasant crunch of the cucumber couldn’t overcome the toughness of the meat and the overpowering taste of the salsa – the smoked pork tenderloin surpassed expectations. The pork, smoked for four to five hours, might have been just a little dry, but the tenderness and the flavor couldn’t be beat. It melted in the mouth without an ounce of effort, and the smoky flavor was something that any barbeque joint would envy.
On the subject of barbeque, Duke’s, who I had heard good things about, was a disappointment. They served both their spicy and mild sausage, neither of which tasted much better than a run-of-the mill breakfast patty. Duke’s buttermilk pie was a real treat, though. Only slightly sweet, the pie had a richness that borders too much without going there. The gooey texture that’s similar to a homemade cobbler couldn’t hold a shape if it tried, but there was not a thing wrong with that for this country dessert.
Montana Mike’s Steakhouse, located near the Wal-Mart, did nothing to dispel my beliefs about chain restaurants. Mike’s served a steak-and-onion-kabob where the onion was, well, an onion and the steak was juicy and tender, but didn’t have any seasoning – no salt, no pepper, nothing.
Sweeter desserts were located on the first floor, available as guests were leaving. Sweet Serendipity showcased its chocolates – made fresh in its shop in Georgetown – which made Hershey’s look like the mass-produced product that it is.
While some dishes exceeded others, all of the foods in this event were for their diversity if nothing else. An array of things that don’t normally show up on a dinner plate were present, embodying the spirit of an event that’s focus was to showcase the variety of taste that Georgetown has to offer.