Lou Viney's Restaurant & Pub ~ Sulphur Springs, Texas
But I didn't want to exclude Lou Viney's, since Sulphur Springs is in the vicinity of DFW, and it's definitely worthy of a destination drive. I think we've been to Sulphur Springs once, and I remember little about it. But times have changed, and the downtown area is revitalized, and quaint, with many restaurants, shops, etc... throughout. It's nice to see small town America have that same sense of relevancy as you would find in Europe for example. I wish our country would have competitions for "most pretty village" as they do in England. Certainly there are informal ones, but it would be nice for something more official. I think it would encourage local civic pride, and also help remove the all-too-common blight one sees on the roadside.
Food: What's interesting about Lou Viney's is that this is exactly the type of food Mrs. RJG and I ate on the entire trip. A restaurant type that is more formally known as a Gastropub. I hate that name for whatever reason (sounds like an after meal condition), and so I'm now penning these places as Craft Tavern. Basically, freshly prepared meals with local ingredients, as well as a fine selection of craft beers and/or local wines and whiskeys. We were there for lunch, and it was our last restaurant before heading home. The menu is eclectic, with a large variety of mostly American oriented dishes but with unique recipes. Their most famous dish is Bourbon Chicken, but unfortunately it's only available for dinner, so we had to miss out. We each tried a cup of the chili, something that the RJG loves to sample at every restaurant since it's usually different. And this was no exception. I personally enjoyed it, but it lacked any kind of soupy texture. It was almost like a bolognese sauce in a cup, with finely cut ground beef and Italian sausage. They were out of the Broccoli Cheese soup, so Mrs. RJG decided to go forward with the chili as well, but it wasn't to her liking , though she did enjoy the flavor. It was just too much meat. This was followed by her decision to get the daily special which was the Patty Melt. Excellent she declared, though she couldn't finish it, as once again, the meat of the chili inhibited her from devouring the entire patty. But the fresh peppers were a plus as was everything else. The homemade potato chips were excellent, some of the best we've ever had. I went forward with the spaghetti and meatballs. Though they stated it was angel hair, it was more like a capellini. In either case, this is a difficult pasta to cook al dente, and they nailed it! Perfect texture. The red sauce was slightly sweet, and a bit chunky, but very much still a sauce. Superb. The best part were the homemade meatballs. It's been a long time since the RJG had meatballs this good! It's a lost art, and while Lou Viney's doesn't remind me of the meatballs of my childhood (different recipe), they are superbly seasoned. The garlic toast was also excellent, something I rarely notice or comment on.
Drink: Nice selection of wine and craft beers (on tap and bottle). We each tried a draught of the IPA from Woodcreek, a new brewery from Rockwall that I hadn't heard of prior. And it was excellent!
Location: As mentioned in the prelude, Lou Viney's sits in the middle of the revitalized downtown area. It's large open space, nicely decorated and comfortable. Outdoor seating is available as well.
Notes: Apparently Lou Viney's started as a wine tasting room, before branching out to a larger restaurant. Sometimes you'll see the name stylized as LouViney's, but the menu clearly separates first and last name.
Rating: 4.0. Warning, only one visit so far. But honestly I can easily see this rating going up with repeated visits. But since we are rarely in this neck of the woods, that may prove difficult. But you never know...