Go to Cabernet Grill, but stick to the basics. Enjoy your wine and you’ll be fine!
Go to Cabernet Grill, but stick to the basics. Enjoy your wine and you’ll be fine!
We all want to get away from time to time. When I get away, I like to get away to the wine country. When you take a typical man, be he your boyfriend, husband, or whoever, to the wine country (unless he happens to be a wine crazed, crystal glass drinking, grape aficionado like me) he can only put up with so much “antiquing” and “boutiquing” until he is crying out for a hearty, Texas sized meal! Luckily, for those Texans who love both wine and hearty meals, there’s The Cabernet Grill in Fredericksburg.
Hearing rave reviews from both friends and family, we made a reservation at Cabernet Grill during our most recent visit to the Hill Country. We got dressed up, and left our quaint BnB for dinner. During the drive up, our mouths began to water. The exterior of the Cab Grill immediately recalls a different time, a time when this place was a working cotton mill. The rustic architecture, the waterfalls, and the expertly done landscaping all feel deeply romantic, and set an expectation that your taste buds are about to be blown away!
We were seated immediately upon entering, and as I saw the wine cellar in the lobby it sent grape induced thrills down my back. Unfortunately, the thrills quickly dissipated when the hostess led us to a table in the very back, sort of stuffed in a corner. In this half empty restaurant, the hostess stuck us at the smallest table in the joint behind a massive column; a sign that we would possibly never be seen again. If you come here, dress casual and expect a lower class experience than your typical “big city” steakhouse. The candles were LED, the salt/pepper shakers came off a boat pre-filled, and the tables and décor seemed out of step with the high menu prices. Not only did these cheap touches detract from the atmosphere, I’m sad to say, our service this night was both slow and inattentive. My water glass was empty before we could order a salad, and to my dismay, it stayed empty most of the night.
Thank God for wine! I went with a local Texas wine from Messina Hoff, the PR Cab Franc, which was quite nice. I had no complaints about the wine, save one. The waitress did not pour a single serving of the Cab Franc into our glasses, past the initial pour, for the rest of the night. I’m no service snob, but when you drop $300-400 on a meal, and a large part of that is on wine, you expect your server to notice an empty glass and fill’er up every now and again. I even purposely left the glass empty a few times when she came by, always with the same result. My glass went unfilled. Let’s just say, they need to work on the “enormous amount of effort put into training our servers”, which they boast about on their website. Might be time to retrain.
The food was good, not great, and while I recommend you come here, I would stay with the basics and eschew anything too fancy. We started our meal with the Spicy Steamed Pork Buns. The braised pork belly with homemade pickles was just what a man needs after a long day of seemingly endless shopping. It truly hit the spot. The Sirracha mayo spread on top of the Buns was killer. The Bacon Wrapped Date Stuffed Figs we ordered on the other hand, were not my favorite. They were just ok, a nice experiment, but the texture was bizarre, and I went back to the pork pretty quickly. For my salad, I went with the Hill Country Caesar, which was good, but sort of soggy from being doused with dressing. Overall, the salad worked though, with asiago cheese and some very good peppered croutons. For the main dish, I ordered the Grilled Texas Quail. I’d never had quail, and was feeling curious, so I took the plunge. It was good, with a nice flavor, but hard to eat with such small bones. It left me wanting a little more. If I could do it over, I probably would have just gone with red meat.
One peculiar thing about the Cab Grill dining experience: both of our plates, both with very distinct cuisines, had the same, I mean exactly the same, sides. Can you be more creative? This, to me, is an example of a poor attempt at being an upscale culinary destination when you should just fire up the grill and stick to what you know. It didn’t help matters that the veggies were so salty they were entirely inedible. The side of seasonal veggies was basically Luby’s cafeteria grade creamed corn. I couldn’t stomach it. Some advice: buy a steamer and a little broccoli.
It’s sort of a shame: this place has so much potential and a lot going for it. If they make the dining room look as classy as the lobby and the beautiful grounds, maybe buy some tablecloths, the atmosphere might catch up to the price. Go to Cabernet Grill, but stick to the basics. Enjoy your wine and you’ll be fine!
The Texas Hill Country, and Fredericksburg specifically, are two of my favorite places to visit in the world. The entire area feels so relaxing and carefree; it feels like home. So when some friends mentioned the Cabernet Grill in Fredericksburg as a place Tim and I should check out, I couldn’t wait to plan our visit!
First off, I must say the grounds here at the Cabernet Grill are gorgeous. The restaurant is part of Cotton Gin Village which is home to a number of quaint bed and breakfasts operating in exquisitely preserved log cabins. The atmosphere of Cotton Gin Village is classic, serene, and unmistakably Texan.
Once we got settled in at the restaurant, I began to wish we had been seated outside so we could more easily enjoy this lovely Hill Country atmosphere. Outside, patrons are treated to a view of koi ponds and waterfalls. Inside, things didn’t seem quite as idyllic. No doubt, this was largely due to some subpar service.
This place is a bit more casual than I expected, and the service was certainly not what I’m accustomed to for a meal at this price point. Our waitress, while sweet and friendly, was M.I.A. for a good chunk of our dinner.
To start, we decided we wanted to try a few appetizers and salad. We chose the Hill Country Caesar Salad, Bacon Wrapped Date Stuffed Figs, and the Spicy Steamed Pork Buns. The Caesar Salad was just a typical Caesar, but made with sort of droopy, sad lettuce. Not horrible, but definitely underwhelming. The Bacon Wrapped Date Stuffed Figs on the other hand, were sweet, flavorful, and served with a tangy barbecue like sauce. I thought they were delicious, but be forewarned, the figs are very “seedy”. I was not at all impressed with the Spicy Steamed Pork Buns. The restaurant is known for these, and it’s honestly hard for me to see why. The pork was too fatty to chew properly and the “buns” were just pita bread.
On a more positive note, we ordered a Cab Franc from Messina Hof Winery, and after giving it some time to decant, it proved to be fantastic! This wine had some truly luxurious smoky and chocolaty aromas well worth slowly savoring. Last note on the appetizers portion of our meal: since I found the Pork Buns so disappointing, I helped myself to plenty of bread and butter with my wine. While it’s hard to screw up bread and butter, it’s worth noting; the fresh, warm bread at The Cabernet Grill didn’t disappoint ( and believe me, I know my bread and butter, people).
For my main course I ordered an 8 ounce filet mignon, mashed potatoes, and what they called “seasonal veggies”. My steak was prepared perfectly and, the potatoes were both creamy and buttery, exactly as they should be. The “seasonal veggies” on the other hand, were NOT exactly as they should be. Far from it. This side dish was basically just canned corn mixed together with tiny flecks of miscellaneous veggies. The uninspired medley also tasted like an entire shaker of salt had been dumped on it.
We opted to skip dessert, and instead decided to retire to the patio area to sip our wine and take in the lovely grounds. There are certainly worse places to end an evening than amidst the abundant ivy of The Cabernet Grill. All in all, the service and food may have not been perfect this night, but our evening concluded in a beautiful setting, under the bright Texas stars, with a glass of phenomenal Texas Wine in hand. Can’t complain about that. Ultimately, I would recommend the Cabernet Grill for the experience, and for the Texan wine list, but be prepared for high prices coupled with so-so service.