Lone Star Culinary Mecca
Renowned Texas inn reopens with goal to become nation’s culinary mecca
A culinary mecca deep in the heart of Texas — if Inn at Dos Brisas owners Jennifer and Doug Bosch have their way, that is exactly the moniker that will soon wrap the exquisite hideaway in award-winning notoriety.
Devotees of the luxe life have already discovered the bucolic caravansary two hours east of Austin in Washington, Texas. They have relished the splendid quiet and remarkable service in this posh Relais & Chateaux property, and they have savored the cuisine of a variety of chefs.
For those unfamiliar with the property spread across 313 acres in the rolling countryside, the inn offers accommodations in lavish Spanish-style haciendas and casitas, a total of nine overnight residences beautifully appointed and offering sweeping views of the verdant landscape. The restaurant, a destination in itself, serves fewer than 30 guests, and while already popular, it is poised to garner even greater praise.
This week, after five months of closure for retooling on numerous levels, the inn is open again for overnight guests with an invigorated team hand-selected by the Bosches to further enhance the property's already elevated status. Securing the inn's national reputation as a "culinary sanctuary" is the ultimate goal.
A new team
In addition to cosmetic touch-ups, the Dos Brisas leadership team is all new, starting at the top with GM Ruben Cambero Sedano, who honed his hospitality management skills as general manager of his family's Relais & Chateaux property, Hotel El Peregrino, in the Basque country of northern Spain. His mother, in fact, is a Michelin-starred chef, giving him a special appreciation of the culinary element.
"Basically, we needed new ideas, new blood, a new team," the soft-spoken Sedano explained. "But also the passion for what we do."
The leadership change included tapping Jonathan Cartwright, former executive chef and GM at the Forbes five-star-rated White Barn Inn Restaurant in Kennebunkport, Maine, as the Inn at Dos Brisas' visiting chef in residence and Matthew Padilla, fresh from element 47 at The Little Nell in Aspen, as executive chef.
"My goal overall is to make this a culinary destination known around the country," Padilla said. "Really be able to showcase my food in the way I did learning under other great chefs that I worked with."
Of the four dinners and several lunches experienced at the Inn at Dos Brisas over the years, our party found Padilla's work in the kitchen masterful and the best to date. From the Dos Brisas caprese salad loaded with fresh from the garden tomatoes to the soft shell crab with ratatouille to the Broken Arrow Ranch venison, the meal was superb. And who could forget the strawberries and cream dessert, an airy confection of white chocolate cremeaux, farm strawberries, and angel food cake.
"My food is a constant evolution," the chef said. "It's very simple food. I like to showcase the ingredients first. That's what was so great about coming to a place like this because the ingredients are first."
This is the ultimate farm-to-table menu, even if Padilla fears the word is overused. The resort boasts more than 40 acres of organic gardens, overseen by former Texas A&M professor Steven King, who holds a Ph.D. from Cornell. Affectionately known as "Farmer Steve" or "Dr. Steve," the new overseer of all things edible is bringing a fresh, more scientific approach to the farm products.
Under his guidance, the production of tomatoes alone has expanded to the extent that you can buy crop extras at the Urban Harvest Market and further surplus is delivered to food pantries in the area.
Padilla and King are in close partnership in the process. "This translates to more of a respect for the ingredients, all the way to the plate," Padilla said.
The Inn at Dos Brisas is currently offering a four-course summer dinner menu priced at $95 per person, tax and gratuities extra. And, as Michelin judges might say, it is "worth the drive."
Overnight rates this summer are particularly attractive. Depending on the day of the week, casita room rates including breakfast range from $499 to $879; haciendas range from $869 to $1,699 a night. The inn also offers a "Farm Dinner Package," which includes dinner for two and breakfast. Those tariffs range from $689 to $879 for the casitas and $1,059 to $1,889 for hacienda accommodations.