MUST STOP: TRAILBLAZER GRILLE, BURNET
by Andrew Chalk
I can’t count the number of times I have driven through the bustling County Town of Burnet on my way south to San Antonio or north to Dallas and wanted to stop for a real meal but did not know of anything except the chains that pepper U.S. 281. A media event at Trailblazer Grille on Burnet’s handsome town square changed all that. The restaurant is now a permanent yellow star on Google maps on whichever device I log in to. Here’s why…
The country cooking restaurant has a broad menu. Chicken pot pie with carrots, celery, peas, onions and potatoes, topped with a golden brown buttery crust is the signature dish, and I can see why. This is the apogee of comfort food. The reasonable price includes a side. Choose the baked mac and cheese which is a chewy, creamy source of bliss or, if you fancy a vegetable, try the fried okra for a crispy off the beaten path example.
So popular is the pot pie that the kitchen may run out of them before the end of service, even though they make about 50 every day. If that happens, meat loaf, or cowboy chicken can substitute.
The menu as a whole has burgers, ribeye and sirloin steaks, a range of salads, rich broccoli and cheese soup, and a selection of sandwiches where, to my palate, the robust Reuben is the star. Pescophiles will find shrimp or catfish. For appetizers look for the jalapeño poppers.
It is pretty much a vain hope but do try to save room for dessert (or bring an extra stomach). The pies are made in-house and whether it is coconut cream pie, original cheesecake, homemade peach cobbler or pecan pie these are unquestionable weapons of mass expansion.
To top it all off there is live music on Tuesdays and Saturdays while you eat.
There are at least three reasons that everything tastes so good. One is that Trailblazer Grille is a (from) scratch kitchen, so be prepared to wait a bit while your food is cooked. Second, there are several trained chefs on the kitchen staff. And third, owners Trace and Liz Catlin, originally from Houston, worked for years in the food industry and in 2000 started a gourmet food consulting business. They bring that long experience to bear.
Their purchase of the premises that became Trailblazer Grille was a big life pivot that happened by chance when the Catlin’s dined in the former restaurant in 2012 and found that the owner was looking to sell. By 2013 they had sold up in Houston and moved to Burnet.
Houston’s loss is Burnet’s gain. The Trailblazer Grille is, in the words of a well known tire salesman, “worth a detour”.