Pairing Dinner at “The Restaurant at Compass Rose”

by Terry Thompson-Anderson, Texas Chef & Author; images by William Varney

Hang onto your hats food and wine lovers. A unique new wining and dining adventure has swept into the Texas Hill Country. And it’s gonna’ blow those hats right off your head! Mark Watson, owner of one of Texas’s newer wineries, Compass Rose Cellars, in Hye, Texas, has teamed up with Chef Brian Gillenwater to create The Restaurant at Compass Rose. Trust me on this one folks, it’s a show stopper.

In a menu trial on Thursday evening Bill Varney and I were treated to a multi-course dinner that was nothing shy of stellar. We began our feast with a seared slab of foie gras with a hoisin glaze and mixed greens with mango strips. Perfection. Next we tried the Grilled Flat Bread Brushed with Herb Butter, Parmes and Manchego cheese. I paired it with a glass of Compass Rose Stache 2013, an excellent take on blanc du bois created by three Hill Country Winemakers. Note that the flat bread will be a regular tapas item in the tasting room!

Compass Rose Texas Winery

Next up was a Spicy Pork Belly with Oak Leaf Greens, Cilantro, and Citrus. Excellent, meaty pork belly that just screamed the essence of “porkness”. Paired with Compass Rose Pinto Grigio 2012, it could’ve been a meal in itself!

For my entree I indulged myself in a the Grilled Peitite Beef Loin in a pool of well executed demi-glaze served with Fingerling Potatoes, Roasted Tomato and Onion Salad. The tomato was an incredible surprise in addition to a burst of color on the plate. Chef Brian first grill-smoked it, then roasted it. Paired the BEEF with Compass Rose 2012 Merlot, another excellent marriage of food and wine.

Compass Rose Cellars Texas Winery Restaurant

Bill had the Hoisin Glazed Gulf Black Tuna, which had been swimming in the Gulf of Mexico the morning before. The perfectly grilled cuts of tuna were nested in a bed of garden greens (and micro greens grown in Hye), peppers, red onion, nice crunchy jicama and a very nice sweet soy dressing. The Compass Rose 2013 Blanc du bois set it to music and the flavors literally popped around the palate.

Chef Brian sent out a small dish of his Smoked Gouda Mac n Chesse with White Truffle Oil – another stunning dish with thin bechamel that actually gave the dish a surprisingly “light”: nuance on the palate.

We finished our feast with a small portion of both desserts on the menu – a Spiced Cake with Olive oil, butterscotch and topped with (brandy) drunken strawberries, and whipped CKC Farms mascarpone, and a Grilled Banana Bread Pudding with Bourbon Whipped Cream & Chocolate Ganache. Both desserts were paired with Compass Rose 2012 Jaquez, which could be dessert all by itself!

The Restaurant at Compass Rose will officially open on Wednesday, April 8th for dinner. In the works at Compass Rose is a new kitchen and lovely gardens, plus, down the road, a country inn. When the inn opens, the restaurant will open for breakfast and lunch also, plus a Sunday Brunch. I’m betting you’ll need reservations a month in advance!

Oh, I forgot to mention the view. I’d pay just to sit at a table and sip wine while looking out at the amazing rolling Texas Hill Country for as far as the eye can see. Make it a must on your list of great places to eat. Mark will also serve wines from other Texas wineries on the restaurant menu.

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