Kyle steakhouse offers an upscale option for Hill Country clientele

What began as an inside joke among friends and family has turned into Kyle's prime venue for steak.

Larsen Wilkes, a Kyle resident and longtime restaurateur, was always talented in the kitchen, said Kasey, his wife and co-owner of Bordeaux's in Kyle.

In December 2004, that running joke turned into a reality. Wilkes said he and Kasey had just finished eating at a restaurant in downtown Kyle and were walking back to the car when they saw the "for sale" sign on a store window on Center Street.

"She [Kasey] basically challenged me to do it," Wilkes said. "And it wasn't easy."

Wilkes said he tried calling the number on the sign but could not get an answer. So he tried contacting the real estate agent, and that person didn't return his calls, either. When he finally did get in touch with someone, he had to clear the hurdles of repairs, renovations and financing.

"It's never a good time for banks to give out restaurant loans," Wilkes said. "Statistically, 86 percent [of restaurants] fail in their first year."

However, Wilkes had been in the restaurant business for more than 22 years, and he persuaded the bank to loan him the money.

The couple said they weren't sure how receptive residents in the area would be to the high-palate menu—the beef entree options range from $32–$42—but said they have been well-received.

Wilkes attributed the draw to the bold sauces and atypical menu selections, such as his port wine cognac blueberry demi glace, and the escargot ($10) and duck foie gras mousse ($18) appetizers.

Now in its eighth year, Bordeaux's has gained a reputation as the prime steakhouse in the area, the couple said. The success has been great enough that they are opening a second location in Dripping Springs.

Kasey said she attributes the success of Bordeaux's to Larsen's talent in the kitchen and to being able to find the restaurant's niche. Over the years, the menu has evolved and the venue has grown.

In addition to positive reviews, Bordeaux's earned celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse's signature "Bam!" seal of approval when he visited in 2007.

"There was a lot more excitement rather than nervousness in the kitchen," Wilkes said about Lagasse's visit.

Bordeaux's has become a destination for many residents in the Hill Country, Wilkes said, with about 10 percent of his clientele coming from Kyle and the rest from South Austin, Wimberley, Driftwood and other neighboring communities.

The Wilkeses said they like catering to their clientele and take that into account through their menu selection and pricing.

"Some people might think that we're too expensive," Kasey Wilkes said, "[But] when you factor [what] in you are getting for your meal, we're actually a pretty good deal."

Bordeaux's, 108 Center St., Kyle, 268-3463,