Food always tastes better when you’re hungry, and when it’s free – my mama
My mom is absolutely right. Now that this blog and my Instagram page are getting more attention, I’ve been getting more invites and offers to try food around town. And when I go these places, I make sure that I’m hungry – mainly so that I’ll feel less guilty when I inevitably stuff my face and am too full to workout afterwards. So naturally, I can understand why when I write about restaurants that treat me, people may question the legitimacy of my words. I get that. There’s not much I can do to change that. What I CAN tell you, however, is that I loved my Driskill dining experience so much that I will be taking my parents – ie the hardest to please self-proclaimed food critics – to eat there.
So yes, the Driskill invited me out to try their food at the 1886 Cafe & Bakery in advance of their Texas Independence Day festivities. They were even so nice as to completely comp my valet parking. On March 2nd, they will have live music, cocktails, an Allens Boots pop-up, and much more. Makes sense that one of the oldest establishments in this city is the one that’s hosting this celebration.
My roommate and I got to the hotel at 11am, and were immediately blown away – although both of us had driven by it countless times, we’d never actually stepped foot in the hotel.
It felt like I was walking through history. Like I’d made a wrong turn and had ended up inside of a palace by mistake. I was constantly met by beautiful floors, tall columns, and a plethora of artwork.
And I hadn’t even gotten to the actual restaurant:
Passing all of this while walking towards the restaurant, I couldn’t stop grinning. I couldn’t believe that a place as nice as the Driskill had invited me out to try their food. It was surreal. In my Austin Oyster Fest tee, my joggers, running shoes, and my Costco jacket, I didn’t feel like I really belonged. And yet, as soon as I went up to the host, everyone at the restaurant made me feel like royalty.
Compliments of 1886 Cafe & Bakery
You never really know what to expect when someone invites you out to eat. They could give you a roll, some butter, or a couple of peanuts, and send you on your way. Since I’m still relatively new to this whole thing, I don’t take these things for granted, and never expect too much.
That’s why I was so surprised when this came:
“Compliments of our pastry chef,” executive pastry chef Tony told me. One bite of this cinnamon roll, and I was instantly in love. It’s one of those things that you know will taste good right after you cut into it and tear it apart. It was flaky, buttery, a good ratio of icing to roll, and not overly sweet. Oh, and did I mention this thing is giant? Don’t let the camera angle fool you. I was pretty much filled up before our other food came.
But wow, this is a must have. You know when the people at both tables next to you are talking about your food that what you have on your plate is a winner. I would go back to the hotel JUST to order this cinnamon roll again.
Fans of sloppy Joes, rejoice. To me, this is a fancy sloppy Joe, complete with chopped BBQ brisket, a fresh and fitting slaw, and dill pickles. Lots and lots of dill pickles – my favorite. Sure to satisfy you and hold you over until the next day.
Let me tell you what I thought when I first saw this waffle. Oh whoop-dee-doo, another Texas shaped waffle topped off with fruit. How exciting.
Little did I know, the addition of pecans to the waffle batter elevates these waffles to another level. Every bite of pecan I got was a nice little surprise, and I kept wanting more and more. The waffle itself is fluffy and has that nice buttery taste to it. You might look at this and say OMG that’s so much powdered sugar. Well, it’s not. Trust me. It’s the right amount. Just like the cinnamon roll, they don’t go too crazy on the sugar here. In fact, since I like my waffles a little softer, I ended up pouring most of the syrup on it, and it still wasn’t too sweet.
Side note: the reason I keep harping on the sweetness level of their food is because sometimes, I’ll go to a place that will just completely overwhelm you with sugar. I grew up on very little sugar – my mom is very health conscious, so my palette has always been extra sensitive to salty and sweet. So when something is TOO sweet, it tastes bad to me. That’s not the case here. Nothing is too strong or bold. All of the ingredients get their own spotlight, and no one steals the show.
At the very end of the meal, executive chef Christian Apetz came out to see how our dining experience was. I got to learn a little more about him, how he got there, and what his favorite food there is (he loves everything they make, but he seemed especially proud of the Huevos Rancheros and the Austin Hot Chicken). He was very quick to give credit to his entire team, something that I respect a lot. In addition, it’s not very often that a head chef will come out and greet me, and it made me feel extra appreciated.
How Much I Would’ve Paid
I felt it important to include this so that you won’t feel misled. Bear in mind that my roommate went with me, and we couldn’t finish all the food provided to us:
Valet – $10 (1886 does validate; regular price is $20)
2 coffees – $8.00
Cinnamon roll – $6.00
Texas Pecan Waffle – $13.00
BBQ Brisket Sandwich – ~$14-16*
*This one was off menu, so I’m estimating based on the price of their other sandwiches offered
TOTAL: ~$51-53, not including tax and server and valet tip.
Would it have been worth it to go out of pocket? For the quality of food and type of experience, absolutely.
Great experience. Great food. Great vibes. It’s a must-visit hotel because of the rich history.
Not many hotels around here put much of an emphasis on giving you a great dining experience. But the Driskill does. You really notice the care and attention that 1886 puts into their food, and I am dying to try more now.
Don’t forget to make your way to @ATXFoodiesBlog on Instagram for more hunger inducing food pictures.