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In late January of this year, the Mobil Travel Guide announced its 2008 list of five-star restaurants. One of the surprises was the inclusion of the largely unknown Inn at Dos Brisas in Washington, Texas (near Brenham; about a one hour drive from Houston, or two hours from Austin). For more a more detailed report on three recent meals I had at the restaurant, see the following: Inn at Dos Brisas (Meal 1); Inn at Dos Brisas (Meal 2); and Inn at Dos Brisas (Meal 3).

 

Three things really impressed me about the restaurant:

 

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First, the restaurant's rural location gives them plenty of land for growing and gardening, and they make the most of it. They have a nicely manicured herb garden that's as decorative as it is functional. They have two vegetable gardens with a wide range of modern and heirloom cultivars. There's a berry patch with just about every berry that will grow in South Texas. An orchard with citrus, stone fruit, and some tropical fruit. A greenhouse to extend the growing season for some vegetables. All of the gardening is organic. It's a breathtaking effort for a restaurant that seats about 30 people.

 

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Second, they make a number of cheeses. Not just softballs like ricotta, mozzarella, or queso fresco, but a variety of soft-ripened and hard goat and cow's milk cheeses. They don't just get points for effort, but for quality. I had two of their housemade cheeses in my meals there and both were very good (i.e., better than those of many of the full-time artisanal cheese makers in Texas). It takes a certain level of food-geekiness to make your own cheeses. I like that attitude.

 

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The chef, Jason Robinson, has a solid palate. Though he sometimes plays it safe with dishes, everything was tasteful, well-executed, and built around high-quality ingredients. My favorite of the three meals ended up being the vegetarian tasting menu, in which the entree above appeared: roasted eggplant wrapped with crispy summer squash strips and cilantro foam. (I think the vegetarian menu allows Robinson to cut loose a little more, rather than feeling the need to anchor dishes with a crowd-pleasing protein. It also plays to another of the restaurant's strengths by building dishes around produce picked that day within a couple hundred yards of the kitchen.)

 

The only major hiccups in the meals were with desserts and mignardises. They don't have a dedicated pastry chef and, at present, it doesn't seem like the kitchen's heart is really into that aspect of the meal.

 

Overall, though, Inn at Dos Brisas is a fine restaurant with some very unique qualities. It's in a beautiful location and worthy of a road-trip for anyone interested in good food and/or sustainable restaurant practices.

 

Scott

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Inn at Dos Brisas is a fine restaurant with some very unique qualities. It's in a beautiful location and worthy of a road-trip for anyone interested in good food and/or sustainable restaurant practices.

 

Scott, All the reports I have heard have been most favorable for Dos Brisas, both for small and also for large parties, including for wine dinners. The guest quarters also are very popular.

 

 

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