Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Weekend Gourmet Hits the Road: Austin's Lone Start Court Hotel and Dinner at Jasper's

By now, it's no surprise that Austin is one of our favorite overnight getaway destinations. It's only an hour-and-a-half from our San Antonio home base, so it's close enough for us to visit often. Austin has so many fun things to do that we never seem to run out of activities to keep us busy when we visit. Michael and I recently drove up to Austin for an overnight getaway to the far north part of the city. We enjoyed an overnight stay at the Lone Star Court, a fun boutique hotel that's located inside the Domain shopping and entertainment complex. Lone Star Court is designed to evoke the retro style of motor courts commonly seen in the 50s and 60s -- but the amenities offered are thoroughly modern, so you get the best of both worlds! We arrived and checked in on a rainy Fall Saturday, then made our way to our large two-room suite. Our suite featured a brightly decorated living room with a flat-screen television, as well as a large bedroom and bathroom area.

Our room was filled with lots of little fun decorative touches. In lieu of a traditional hotel servi-bar, our suite had a full-size retro refrigerator stocked with plenty of cold beverages. These fun touches continued in the bedroom and bathroom. The Queen size bed featured luxurious sheets with the hotel's logo stitched on them, and the bathroom featured custom Lone Star Court spa toiletries and plush robes.
After we settled in for a bit, we decided to enjoy a late lunch at The Water Trough -- Lone Star Court's onsite casual restaurant. As we walked to the restaurant from our room, we enjoyed viewing the hotel's nicely laid-out grounds. We especially liked the bright color scheme that the hotel featured. All of the hotel's rooms face into the large outdoor common area. The common area features a swimming pool with plenty of colorful chaise lounges, as well as a covered pavilion. The Water Trough was located near the pool and offers guests a full bar, casual Texas-style food, and live music from Wednesday through Saturday.
We started our lunch with a pair of cocktails from The Water Trough's bar menu. Michael had the Spring Garden Party. I opted for the Deep Mimosa, a citrusy champagne cocktail flavored with Austin's Deep Eddy grapefruit vodka. We decided to share a pair of appetizers and a main dish. For our appetizers, we selected the perfectly fried Texas Sized Shiner Bock Onion Rings with Sweet Chili Aioli and the spicy Smoked Chicken Quesadillas with Cheddar & Jalapeno Jack. The onion rings were perfectly fried, and the sweet-spicy dipping sauce paired perfectly with them. The quesadillas were full of gooey melted cheese and house-smoked chicken. We also shared an order of Smoked Brisket Tacos served with Pickles & Fried Shallots and Spicy Cole Slaw. 

The food was excellent -- perfect for sharing. I especially enjoyed the fried shallots that topped the brisket tacos, as well as the sweetly spicy cole slaw that was served on the side. We headed back to our comfy room to rest up a bit before our dinner reservation at Dallas-based Chef Kent Rathburn's Jasper's Austin -- which is also conveniently located at the Domain. We loved that we could leave our room and be at dinner in less than 10 minutes from door to door! 

Jasper's features a menu that serves "gourmet backyard cuisine" -- casual food with an upscale, gourmet twist. We met our friend Stephanie for dinner, which started with cocktails: Michael had The Big Daddy, and I had the Raspberry-tini. The Big Daddy featured Grey Goose, citron and l'orange, house-made sweet & sour, and a squeeze of lemon and orange. My fruity Rasberry-tini featured Skyy raspberry vodka, razzmatazz cranberry, pineapple juice, and a sweet sugar rim. It was the perfect cocktail for a berry lover like me! We paired our cocktails with several appetizers that were hand-selected for us by the chef. We shared the Texas Gulf Crab Cakes, Prosciutto Wrapped "Shrimp 'n Grits," Maytag Blue Cheese Potato Chips, and Tuna x 2. All were expertly prepared and delicious!
The crab cakes were served on a bed of tomatillo-poblana creme, and the spicy sauce worked very nicely with the sweet lump crab. The shrimp and grits featured grilled shrimp wrapped in crispy prosciutto, served on a bed of creamy grits and topped with a sublime lemon-thyme butter sauce. Jasper's signature appetizer is the addictive house-made chips topped with a creamy sauce and lots of Maytag blue cheese -- Michael was in heaven. Finally, Tuna x 2 featured chile-seared tuna and raw tuna poke. Both were expertly prepared. We had to pace ourselves, because this was just the appetizers. Up next came a trio of entrees!
We had Jasper's award-winning Rotisserie Prime Rib, Cedar Smoked Salmon, and an Allen Brothers Delmonico Ribeye. The prime rib was cooked medium rare and had a slight smoky taste; it was served with loaded Yukon gold baked potatoes. The perfectly cooked salmon was accompanied by a horseradish potato mash, melted leek butter, and crispy lemons. Finally, the aged ribeye was served with creamy garlic mashed potatoes and a red wine butter. We were all very impressed with the flavor and presentation of our entrees. We were feeling pretty stuffed by then, but the chef sent out a trio of Jasper's signature desserts for us to share.
We shared the Cherry Limeade Pie, Butterfinger Creme Brulee, and Vanilla "Dessert Toast." All three were to die for! The dessert toast reminded us of a combination of French toast and bread pudding, and it was served a la mode with candied pecans and caramelized bananas. The cherry limeade pie was perfectly tart and topped with a homemade Swiss meringue. Finally, the creme brulee was topped with a homemade butterfinger candy. This is the ultimate dessert for Butterfinger candy bar fans! With that, our fantastic dinner at Jasper's was over. Jasper's hit a total home run with us! We headed back to our room at Lone Star Court, where I enjoyed a relaxing post-dinner soak in the claw-foot tub in our spacious bathroom. I slept like a baby that night!

The next morning, we slept in before enjoying Lone Star Court's complimentary expanded continental breakfast. They offer a variety of fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, bacon, yogurt, and a variety of pastries and cereals. It was a perfect start to our day. After breakfast, we packed up our overnight bags and checked out. The lobby staff was very friendly and helpful -- they even have a sweet dog that greets guests in the homey waiting area. Lone Star Court is offering some great room specials through this December. It's a great opportunity for Texans to enjoy this modern-retro hotel -- and the location can't be beat! You're literally steps from great shopping and restaurants at The Domain, making this a great choice for your upcoming Fall getaways. You can hit the road...and knock out some of your holiday shopping at the same time!

Disclosure: Lone Star Court provided us with a complimentary stay and food at The Water Trough to facilitate this feature. Jasper's hosted us for dinner as well. All opinions are my own, and all photographs are copyrighted by Michael K. Garcia. They may not be copied or otherwise used without prior consent.

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