Bee Cave Wines, Bee Cave Dines, Bee Cave are now showing all the signs of… becoming a worthy destination in itself? The Sonesta is great for exploring that escape from the nearby city – Food
Okay, that’s what the PR explosion shouted at us, “Bee Cave rivals Napa Valley with a diverse lineup of breweries, wineries and distilleries, complemented by a burgeoning food and dining scene.” . “
Ah, how are you this for a base of operations?
And we knew many wine lovers would be triggered by that statement, as California’s Napa Valley has long been considered the pinnacle of America’s wine industry.
[Note: The author Lenny Kleinfeldâs terrific, viticulture-inflected first novel Shooters and Chasers wasnât set out in Fredericksburg, after all, was it?]
And so we wondered how accurate that Bee Cave bragging could be – especially since, in quoting it above, we had to add our own Oxford comma to the sentence.
[Note: Never mind Vampire Weekend, weâre more about Damaged Bug.]
But your current journalist is not a wine enthusiast, tbh, and has also been too busy producing reams of artisan journalism to investigate such claims.
Fortunately, however, he does know some people.
He knows, to be precise, Rowan and John Halliday – knowledgeable yet linguistically speaking wine lovers – who have done all the Napa Valley stuff and who, in fact, have already checked the wine for the Austin Chronicle. So we sent this local married couple of thoughtful edonists to the town of Bee Cave on the edge of the Texas Hill Country, to spend a weekend at the Sonesta Hotel and enjoy the hospitality and explore some of the vineyards, breweries and distillers. near.
You know: a little investigative stay kind of thing?
Two nights at the Sonesta. Two different cellar / distillery tours during the day. A refreshing getaway to the leafy hills and lush green expanses and laid-back beach resorts that lie just beyond the growing rat race heckling of Austin, Texas. And now Rowan and John Halliday have reported, and we have the scoop here:
Rowan tree: The Sonesta was very friendly and well organized. They had, obviously, a lot of weddings there, because there were little gift bags lined up. I was impressed with the extent to which they had signage for all of their Covid protocols – printed plastic signs. The rooms are very comfortable – the bed was super comfortable.
Jeans: I slept all night and never had back pain. Which, for me, is usually impossible. These beds are great.
Rowan tree: It was also very easy to find your way around the hotel – a simple and pleasant layout. I don’t know if I would call it a destination, exactly. Not a hotel where you would go to stay at the hotel? But it’s so close to a lot of attractions in the Hill Country, and I would definitely put my family there. If we were to spend some time driving around the Bee Cave area and, you know, To do tips – the Sonesta is a great base of operations.
Brenner: And is there a rooftop bar?
Rowan tree: Meridian 98, yes – this is a high quality bar. The cocktails were really good –
Jeans: They have honey in every drink.
Rowan tree: And each cocktail also contains at least one form of alcohol from Texas. I really appreciate this, because I’m a big fan of local things. The starters were good, the service was good. What I disliked oh, the bacon coated shrimp were delicious! There was road noise six floors down, but I’d be happy to sit up there anytime – and eat some of their appetizers. We were there at sunset – a great view – and it was such a relaxing and comfortable vibe.
Brenner: But that’s not where you had dinner the first night, is it?
Plate by Dzintra – a worthy destination? As Rowan Halliday corroborates, it is a Yes.
Rowan tree: No, we ate at Plate by Dzintra, in the Galleria – which is very close to the hotel. Everything in Bee Cave was pretty close, actually. Bee Cave isn’t huge, so it’s not difficult, but it makes Sonesta very convenient.
Brenner: Okay, and the food to the plate?
Rowan tree: It was phenomenal. We had the pork belly appetizer, which was very crisp, with a nice sweet sauce. And they use chamomile dressing on their bread and butter – Yum! The main courses we had were fennel crusted filet mignon – very tasty, a strong fennel flavor, but it works – and short ribs. The ribs were amazing, practically fondant.
Jeans: Good service too.
Rowan tree: [nods] The service is super friendly and responsive. And the cocktails were great. In fact, everywhere we’ve been I’ve always been impressed with the Bee Cave Cocktail Game. I never expected to find such a thing in Bee Cave, and yet it was there. Plate is definitely something of a destination restaurant. We still think it’s only 25 minutes from our house.
Brenner: Okay, and then it’s back to the Sonesta, that comfy room, a bed that lets John sleep through the night, and the next day you do a few visits. You checked – a cellar? And a distillery?
Rowan tree: Yes, Desert Door Texas Sotol. And Hamilton Pool Farms.
Brenner: Sotol of the Desert Gate? Damn, that shit, ah, it’s amazing.
Rowan tree: Yes it is! We cannot recommend the Desert Door tour enough. They were so nice and really knew their products. You know how sometimes you go somewhere and obviously people have memorized some kind of spiel? You could tell that the person who guided us was not working from a script, he actually understood the sotol and the cocktails. She answered all of our questions and made recommendations based on what I told her about my own preferences. The tasting there were three different kinds of sotol, and everything was delicious. We also ended up buying a bottle of Driftwood Cowboy, Desert Door’s collaboration with Garrison Brothers. Oh it’s so Well. And it was interesting to talk about the concept of not only working in a sustainable way, but, because sotol is an invasive species for many breeders, Desert Door is working with breeders to remove the plants from their property – so it is a situation where everyone wins.
Brenner: Then [checks notes] Hamilton Pool?
Rowan tree: Hamilton Pool Farms. This is a working, sustainable winery and farm – the current owners recently acquired it from Westcave Cellars which moved to Hye. They were understaffed when we were there because one of the people had broken their foot so her husband was doing all the tastings. There was only him and 12 visitors, and he handled it well. There were also chocolates – little chocolates to go with, which paired particularly well with one of their red wines – and it was a very relaxed and enjoyable afternoon. They have a nice patio and we did everything outside. We were able to taste a Viognier 2019, a Tempranillo 2019, their Spot Rose 2018, a Merlot Washington called Drops Like Stars, a Petit Verdot 2020 –
Jeans: This one would go very well with a barbecue.
Rowan tree: Yeah – our taster suggested a steak, but I think lamb is probably a better choice. And we’ve tried some other great wines as well, but – you need to know this: when trying to find the place, the GPS will drop you off at a cove. When you get to the cove, don’t trust the GPS – you still have to walk a few more miles. The cellar is large and easy to find – it has a large concrete panel – so if you don’t know if you’ve passed it, you haven’t. Just keep going and you’ll know it when you see it.
Brenner: It feels like a full day. And then, back to Plate by Dzintra for dinner?
Rowan tree: No, at the Jardin d’Ellera. There are two restaurants: one is quite chic and upscale, and the other is more casual; they are both prepared by the same chef, with the same style, but the more casual is more that of pizzas and sandwiches. And both places are delicious. The cheese and salumi plate is huge, with lots of different things; it is really an application for four not two. But all of the food was super delicious, especially the scallop roll on a soft and crispy roll. And, again, the cocktails were awesome. In Bee cave!
Brenner: So the whole weekend at Sonesta wasn’t just fun, it was alsoâ¦ uh, what’s a good word? Revealing, perhaps?
Rowan tree: Well, Bee Cave has grown a lot since living in Austin. And I’ve been to the Galleria every now and then, as there are stores that I shop in, but I had never been to Bee Cave for food or to see any of the local sites, ever. And now I see that obviously I missed something.