The Hilton Austin recently opened its highly anticipated new restaurant, Cannon + Belle, which is an addition to the hotel’s multi-million dollar upgrade. The restaurant is prominently named for Angelina Belle Eberly, who’s known as the lynchpin who fired a cannon ball into the General Land Office Building back in 1842 (statue on Congress Ave., near 6th Street).
The restaurant is helmed by Executive Chef Peter Maffei, who was most recently Exec. of Finn & Porter, Hilton’s previous local home restaurant (which closed in April to make way for Cannon + Belle).
Cannon + Belle offers a bold approach with with generous dose of Texas culinary traditions featuring a diverse menu of various offerings. It shouldn’t be seen as a pizza restaurant but the chef offers several exceptional wood-grilled, hand-crafted artisan pizzas that would be worthy of any high end pizza spot in the city.
Chef Peter couldn’t let me rest on just pigging out on pizza alone so he treated me to a few of his favorite dishes, including a few items from the shared menu section. The Oven Pretzel is easily my favorite carb-filled shared dish and worth breaking the vows of your new year’s diet. It’s served with three dips: pimento cheese, smoked bacon peanut butter and Fredericksburg Farms Dusseldorf mustard.
We also devoured the Pickled Shrimp Tamale with masa, smoked corn and green tomatoes; the Grilled Chicken Wings with chilie pepper butter and charred onion barbecue sauce; the Oven Roasted Broccoli with pickled shallots, grilled foccacia and marinated raisins. Selecting a favorite is pretty much impossible. Every time our server delivered a dish, it became my favorite new dish.
I love beef, especially when it’s dish is curated with a little creativity beyond a beautiful cut of prime steak. I’m used to eating giant beef ribs when I visit my favorite bbq spots in Austin, but chef Peter surprised me with a game changer that became my absolute favorite dish of the entire meal when he dropped the Pastrami Beef Rib in front of me. Think of a giant beef rib topped with rye bread puree, mustard creme fraiche and brussels spouts ‘sauerkraut’, all with a distinct, salty flavor of pastrami. It’s a splendid piece of slow roasted, tender, juicy and fall off the bone perfection.
The key to enjoying an indulgent dessert is to not worry about how many sweet wonderful calories you’ll be consuming, and to never ever feel guilty about it. The dessert menu is loaded with some of the most Texas-worthy treats the pastry chef could have possibly conceived. The “Ploughman’s Dessert Board will change the way you think about dessert, as it’s loaded with a few of the pastry chef’s favorite collection of creative dessert bites making it perfect for sharing. The Chocolate Stack features a Texas-sized slice of four layered chocolate cake with brown butter and salted caramel. Add a glass of milk and a couple of forks to share this beast with your favorite person and the massive food coma you’ll enjoy the rest of the evening will be complete.
Cannon and Belle’s beverage program offers the best of Texas and Austin including cocktails, wines, beer and even kombucha. You’ll find a Texas-centric beirgarten with a respectable local draft beer lineup as well as Duchman wines on tap along with an extensive Texas wine list which includes McPherson, Becker and Fall Creek wineries.
By the end of the evening I left stuffed and thoroughly enjoyed my colossal food coma but couldn’t help but to be intrigued by the rest of the menu, and by that I mean breakfast. So I’ll return for that after I complete my stint of food hibernation this winter.