Destination dining in East Texas

stillwaterA recent “Texas Monthly” article named The Stillwater Inn among its list of 10 little-known restaurants across Texas that “put big cities to shame.” That said, you can imagine my delight when I realized the The Stillwater Inn resides only about 15 miles from Mr. Wonderful’s hometown – where we happened to be spending the Thanksgiving holiday.

Naturally, we stopped in with friends for a Friday night dinner at the 30-year-old French-inspired B&B, where owner Sharon Stewart greeted the six of us at the door in a neat black beret. The restaurant is housed inside a lovely century old Victorian home with lofty ceilings, hard woods and several cozy dining rooms.

Shared sides included crusty homemade bread and churned butter. A lovely salad of mixed greens and fried goat cheese. Roasted Brussels sprouts. Creamed spinach with garlic and Parmigiano-Reggiano. A goat cheese-stuffed portobello.

escargotBut the focal point – for me – was the escargot bourguigonne  recommended in the article. Ours arrived topped with tiny pearls of golden bread (pictured.) My first rodeo with snails was highlighted mostly by the fragrant garlic herb butter the critters were smothered in. Much like mushrooms, I concluded.

For a main course, the mister had a New York Strip with Bordelaise and blue cheese. For me, a beautifully rare filet with sautéed mushrooms and a side of creamy scalloped potatoes.

Dessert was a pretty average vanilla gelato with chocolate sauce. But the sweetest standout was the Stillwater Coffee – a decadent nectar of espresso, Kahlua, Bailey’s and cream served with a dollop o’ whip cream. I should have taken a picture because it was gone in 60 seconds.


Independence Day romp on the swamp


I snapped this picture of the droopy bald cypress forest  at Caddo Lake a couple weeks ago on a day trip with Mr. W and his family. We spent the Fourth of July hanging out on a dock overlooking the lake named for its former inhabitants — the Caddo Indians — who settled here in the 1600s. The wetlands wind through the northeast border of Texas and Louisiana for over 26,000 acres, calling both states home. We’re told alligators are commonplace at Caddo. Thankfully they stayed out of sight on our visit, but a pontoon boat ride through the bayous and ponds did reveal some unsuspecting turtles hidden among a labyrinth of lily pads. Good ‘ole gator bait, I’m afraid.