Tuesday, 11 March 2008

The Gage Restaurant, Marathon, Texas

We've been on the road now for almost 6 weeks and there are certain things we miss... baths, our beds, and good food. We have eaten out a few times since arriving in the US, but to be fair the places we have visited have been all-you-can-eat places, purely because of our budget.

But last night Dan took a walk as I tried to get the kids to sleep. He was gone quite some time, and when he eventually got back he was full of chat about the people he'd met. He really loves to meet the local people while we travel. We have both noticed that people are so much nicer in the rural areas than in the cities. There are nice people in the cities, dont get me wrong, but there are a lot of crazy stressed out nutters too. So Dan spent a few hours last night chatting to various off duty staff members of the local hotel restaurant. They told him that they serve the best food in America, and insisted we should try it. Well, let me tell you - they weren't wrong! I am going to be dreaming for weeks about the meal I ate tonight!
So Dan booked a table for 7pm this evening. I'm not entirely sure whether the restaurant is known as the Gage Restaurant, or Cafe Cenizo, as there were signs for both. We walked the 5 minute walk from the Marathon RV park to the Hotel. We sat out in the courtyard as it was such a nice evening, and such a nice area. There was a big open fire near us, a cobbled courtyard with a fish pond, fountain, a wall lined with cow skulls which the kids were totally impressed with. I felt like I was sitting out in the Old West, listening to the sounds of the old railroad every time a train went past.

Our waitor was the guy who Dan met last night. The manager came out and said he'd heard all about us and D would take care of us tonight. The menu looked amazing but we had no idea what to order... Elk, Bison, Scallops, Antelope, Quail - none of which I've ever tasted before. D recommended a few dishes and we went for Bison Ribeye and an Antelope Steak (ok, in the menu they all had fancy names but I can't remember that). Whilst Dan was chatting to the manager our waitor brought over a basket of hot homemade breads. He explained to me what they were and I wish I could remember the exact details as they were divine. One of them was a hot corn bread with some special ingredient in it (I know, I'm useless, I should have taken a pen and notepad with me!) and the other was bread with some sort of cheese in it. The butter was home made with molasses and goodness knows what (perhaps yaks milk or something). Well, it was bread like we'd never tasted before, and still warm. The kids ate a ton of it, and little Barney eat almost his own weight in it.
But soon after that the waitor came over with five starters and said they "were a gift from the chef" !!! Barney took one look at them and said out loud "I hope they dont give me one of them", just as the manager came up behind him and said "well, we're just going to give you one of them anway." I had to laugh. It was such a posh starter for a four year old and he had never seen anything like it. Jimmie and Annabelle looked suitably impressed too. As best I can remember it was pan fried scallop on a bed of tomatoes topped with a quails egg, and in the most delicious sauce. None of us have ever had a quails egg before, and Dan is the only one who has had a scallop before. But these scallops were huge, like steaks! It tasted, like heaven.
When our Bison and Antelope arrived, Dan and I divided our meals in half so that we could taste both. Both were truly the most amazing meals I have ever had the pleasure of eating. I wish I could describe what Antelope tastes like. (Annabelle was most disgusted with us eating such cute creatures, despite having half a cow on her own plate!) The Antelope meat was very strong flavoured, nothing like beef or pork or anything I've eaten before. It was just heavenly, but I'd have trouble eating the whole dish on my own as it really is very rich. Dan liked the Antelope best, but I really enjoyed the Bison. It was like a steak, but so much better than a steak. Honestly, I start dribbling every time I think about it. I want to move into that court yard and sit eating Bison for the rest of my life. Steak is tough, in my experience, even when cooked well. This was like steak, but it literally melted in your mouth. I have no doubt that this also had something to do with the chef - Paul Petersen. He could give Gordon Ramsey a run for his money any day, I'm telling you. I better not start talking about the veg, potato, sauces that came with the meat, or I will be here forever.

When we were truly stuffed the waitor said that he would give us some complimentary deserts as well. I nearly fell off my seat. We were treated like royalty, and I have no idea why. Just because people here are nice? Maybe they'd been tipped off that a top gourmet food critic from Ireland was in town!
Well, I've never talked so much about food, but this place just made an impression. If you are ever driving through the 'Gateway to the Big Bend', stop by Marathon, find the Gage Hotel, and eat here. You will not regret it. I promise you. They were so sure of it that they said to us "if this is not the best food you have ever tasted, your meal will be free." I'm happy to say it was the best food I've ever tasted. Tomorrow I go back to living on rice and beans though.


Anonymous said...

That looks like one scary restaurant...the cow's skulls and the cross shape behind the two kids make it look like a black mass restaurant.

Anonymous said...

I have so much fun reading your blog. It's always nice to hear what people have to say when they are visiting America for the first time. I am glad you are enjoying it. I live in Utah, can't wait to see what you think of it. Travel save.

Bree said...

Thanks for the comments, and to everyone who has commented. Its really great to get them and to find out who is reading.

I cant wait to visit Utah, I have heard it is spectacular.