Posts tagged ‘restaurant’

May 22, 2012

Austin: Gluten-Free Dinner at Olive & June

Italian and gluten-free don’t often go hand-in-hand … pastas, breads, and pizzas are serious gluten bombs. But leave it to parkside’s, backspace’s, and Olive & June’s Chef Shawn Cirkiel to create a five-course  Southern Italian-style gluten-free dinner in honor of Celiac Awareness month. Olive & June will host two of the gluten-free dinners on May 23rd and May 24th, paired with a selection of specialty cocktails and Italian wines.

At $80 per person, including tax and gratuity, the dinner is a worthy splurge. Seating is family-style in the chef’s table room, an intimate private space with views of the kitchen. Seating is limited, so snag tickets online at 7:30p.

Sneak a peek at the menu:
Piccoli Piatti
Scallop Crudo, Mortadella, Pistachio
*Aperol Spritz, aperol, prosecco, lemon twist
Housemade Baked Ricotta, Roasted Summer Vegetables, Aged Balsamic 
Salad of Roasted Marinated Chipollini Onions, Sweet Peppers, Arugula, Cecina
*Abbazia, Muller Thurgau DOC, Alto Adige 2010
Grilled Prawns, Spaghetti, Strawberries, Scallion
*Rocco del Dragone, Falanghina IGT, Campania 2010
Rabbit, Prosciutto, Pepporanata, Mint Yogurt
*Piazzo, Dolcetto d’Alba DOC, Piedmont 2008
Peaches, Mascarpone, Almonds
*Galiano, star anise, vanilla
January 23, 2012

Easy Tiger! Bake Shop & Beer Garden Opens Today

Someone go try it for me please?

Bread and beer. Things I shouldn’t eat but happen to love. [Sidenote: there’s a new bakery in Aspen on the mall under the Psychic called Annette’s and the bread there is TO DIE FOR, so to speak, as I ate almost half a loaf and spent the rest of the night with sores in my mouth and farting. Sorry that’s gross. But I’m pretty sure I can thank the high gluten factor for that. But there’s sourdough…] Back to Easy Tiger, 709 E. Sixth Street, the long-awaited new bake shop and beer garden (this post has it opening in May … of 2011)  from the 24 Diner people.

The key players:

Bread: Artisan baker David Norman [creds: Grand Central Bakery (leading artisan bakery in Pacific Northwest), TriBakery (supplying NY greats such as Tribeca Grill and Nobu), Ecce Panis (NY, NJ) and Bouley Bakery (NY)]. Breads: baguettes, French country levain, rye bread, German pretzels, Danish, turnovers and more all day long.

Beer: Billy Caruso [creds: CIA graduate and 24 Diner sommelier] Cocktails, wine, unique bombers, and 30 craft beers on tap: local Real Ale and Jester King and boutique domestics such as Avery, Lagunitas and Ommegang.

Meat: Andrew Curren [creds: CIA valedictorian, worked for top New York restaurateurs Danny Meyer and Jonathan Waxman, nom for People’s Best New Chef from Food & Wine magazine/CNN’s Eatocracy, Top Chef: Texas] House-cured meats: housemade sausages, jerky, corned beef and pastrami, as well as homemade krauts, relishes and peperonata.

Decor: Veronica Koltuniak [creds: clients include Madonna, Courteney Cox, and Jennifer Lopez] The Royal Tenenbaums: “Turn-of-the-century building meets end-of-the-century kitsch.”

Seriously. Someone go and report back. I can’t put myself in another gluten coma. / /

January 18, 2012

Houston: Houston Uchi Opens Feb 2

… but they start taking reservations today! I used to cover the Houston restaurant scene for a luxury magazine, and let me tell you, competition is fierce in one of the fattest cities in the nation. I say that lovingly, as I think Houston is one of the best cities in the nation if you know where to go and what to do. Nonetheless, I think there’s little doubt the Houston outpost of Austin’s most famous restaurant (too bold a claim?) will be a success. Reservations at or 713.522.4808.

The second location of Chef Tyson Cole’s critically-acclaimed restaurant, Uchi, will open to the public on February 2nd.  In the iconic former Felix space on Westheimer near the corner of Montrose. Offerings from the kitchen and sushi bar showcase his signature style of combining unexpected textures and flavors, pushing the boundaries of Japanese cuisine, drawing flavor inspiration from numerous points around the globe and mixing traditional master knife work with cutting-edge techniques.

Acclaimed pastry chef Philip Speer ends things on a sweet note with his ground-breaking desserts that showcase familiar flavors in completely original forms and combinations. Chef Cole is pleased to name Kaz Edwards of the original Uchi as chef de cuisine in Houston.  Monica Glenn, longtime protégé of Philip Speer, will be pastry chef.

The transformation of the building from the Felix space was helmed by (obviously) Michael Hsu, who also designed almost every impressive restaurant space in Austin including Uchi, Uchiko, Malverde, and so on.

“We have been looking forward to becoming a part of the Houston community for many months,” says Chef Tyson Cole, recent winner of James Beard Foundation Best Chef Southwest. “It’s a thrill to open our doors.”

904 Westheimer / Houston, Texas 77006

December 5, 2011

Austin: Skate It Up

Austin’s lakes and ponds will probably never freeze in order to get that whole wintery skating thing going on (in contrast to Aspen, where it is TEN degrees as I type this), so we have to build rinks specifically for that purpose. The downtown Whole Foods started the trend a few years ago (and has updated it for 2011, read on), but the famous Oasis Restaurant with its brand new Oasis Texas village is upping the ante with a 1,760 square foot ice skating rink against the sunsets and Lake Travis views for which it is famous.

oasis skating rink

Oasis Texas now consists of five restaurants, four retail shops, entertainment, and office space. The rink is open through January 1. Admission to the rink is $10, which includes skate rental. Bring a new, unwrapped toy for the Marine Foundation’s Toys for Tots annual holiday campaign and get $1 off skate ticket. Oasis Texas is located at 6550 Comanche Trail. For more info:

Skating rink hours: Monday through Thursday 4-10p; Friday and Saturday 11a-11p; Sunday 11a-8p.
Christmas Eve: 11a-7p; Christmas Day: 1-10p; New Year’s Eve: 11a-10p; New Year’s Day: 11a-10p

Meanwhile, Whole Foods is introducing Disco Karaoke on Ice! Wednesday Nights Through January 15th from 7-9p . Disco Karaoke on Ice will include free hot chocolate, courtesy of Capital One Bank, to the first 50 guests. Plus, all karaoke guests will be entered into a chance to win a $250 gift card. Admission: $10/hour includes skates.

November 8, 2011

Austin: Olive & June to Fill El Arbol Void

With the sad news of El Arbol‘s closing, everyone wondered what would happen to the new Brykerwoods hotspot … well, wait no longer! Acclaimed Chef Shawn Cirkiel of parkside and backspace will open a Southern Italian restaurant called Olive & June next spring.

olive & june

Olive & June is named for Chef Shawn Cirkiel’s grandmother and his wife’s grandmother and will offer dishes influenced by the fun-loving family dinners Chef Cirkiel enjoyed as a child in the Italian-American neighborhood of the South Bronx, where his father grew up. Olive & June will highlight local, seasonal ingredients and will feature handmade pasta dishes, an updated traditional meatball made with roasted eggplant and breadcrumbs, and a variety of piccoli piatti, small plates.

Sunday evenings at Olive & June are family nights, and the menu will solely feature piccoli piatti and family-style entrées. Saturday and Sunday brunch will come shortly after the opening.

Olive & June is located at 3411 Glenview Ave. in Central Austin (my nabe, Brykerwoods!).

September 26, 2011

Take Me There: Napa Valley

Despite my love for wine, travel, and the sunshine of California, I have not ever been to Napa Valley. Sad panda.

Just another reason to visit: Austin hotspot and “Best New Restaurant” James Beard Foundation Award nominee La Condesa just opened an outpost (view my coverage of the Austin location’s drinks here and food here). La Condesa Napa Valley, 1320 Main Street, St. Helena ( still features the vision of executive chef Rene Ortiz, blending traditional and innovative Mexican, an extensive tequila selection, artisanal cocktail menu, and California-driven wine list.

“The Napa Valley is one of the most beautiful places in the country, and its breadth of produce and ingredients is unparalleled,” says owner Jesse Herman.  “We’re excited to work hand-in-hand with the region’s growers and producers to combine the flavors of the Napa Valley with the spirit of La Condesa.”


La Condesa Napa Valley sources locally whenever possible and Ortiz has designed many new menu items that highlight ingredients from Northern California and Bay Area purveyors. The Napa Valley location also serves favorites from the Austin menu, including Taquitos Arábicos (seared venison, pickled cucumber, chipotle harissa, fennel pollen yogurt and cilantro rolled in a bacon-fat tortilla); Hongo Y Huitlacoche Huaraches (crispy masa flat breads topped with wild mushrooms, huitlacoche, yellow corn, farmer’s cheese, queso chihuahua, epazote and a dash of truffle oil); and Cangrejo Tostadas (lump crab meat, green mango, grapefruit, tomato, chives and chipotle mayo).


Food is cooked over a wood-fired grill imported from Texas to add an essential Lone Star flavor to the menu. La Condesa Napa Valley’s menu of unique cocktails is overseen by the 2011 42Below Cocktail World Cup national champion, Nate Wales but still features faves like El Cubico and all fresh juices.

drink menu

The interior of an historic building has been retrofitted to reflect the interior, quirky Mexican of the Austin location, including the whimsical art of Ortiz’s brother.


The restaurant is open nightly for dinner, from 5-10p, Sunday through Wednesday and from 5-11p, Thursday through Saturday.  Lunch will be served from 11:30a to 2:30p, Monday through Friday; and brunch service will be available from 10a to 3p on Saturday and Sunday. Take me there!

August 2, 2011

Aspen: Why Ellina is Buzzing

When an occasion came along recently for us to celebrate, my number one choice was Ellina. The Vermonster and I had heard plenty of great things about Ellina, but hadn’t gotten a chance to check it out. It’s three seasons old (that’s a summer, winter, and now a summer) but still growing its buzz with the locals. We said we’d stop in for a drink, but got completely sucked in by the bar menu. We ordered one of everything. Literally.

ELlina patioWe sat on the middle patio, a level down from the Hyman Avenue mall but above the dining room. You can order from the bar menu, lounge on couches, and still be outside. It’s pretty awesome.
Ellina aspen drinksSo is the Vermonster’s face … he’s pretty excited about the drinks. The creative concoctions feature fresh juice.

Ellina aspen artichoke and calamariEllina cevicheEllina saladEllina crabcakeWe really did order one of every app on the bar menu. Calamari (legit), roasted artichoke, ceviche (so fresh), spinach salad, and crab cakes, which were sweet enough to be considered dessert. For three drinks and five apps plus tip, we got away for under $100. That’s a total win in Aspen!

The service was impeccable, the atmosphere just right, and the food outstanding. No wonder there’s such a buzz on Ellina. We’ll be back for more of you.

May 2, 2011

Aspen: Thai at Jimmy’s!

At a time of year (off-season) that many restaurants are closing shop and getting somewhere warm, Jimmy’s is bringing the heat by introducing a special Thai menu now through May 7!

Click here for the menu,  which includes specialities like Choo Chee Pl (halibut), Phad Thai, Massaman Lamb, Chicken Satay, and Goong Sarong.
For other off-season specials, check out EatAspen’s list here. There are some serious prix-fixe bargains to be had, most notably il Mulino’s $35 3-course meal. See you there?
April 28, 2011

Austin: Two More Brunch Options: Zed’s & TRACE

Zed’s, the new North Austin dining destination serving modern, casual Austin-American fare, recently introduced an expansive Sunday brunch buffet (which, as you know, is what I think ALL brunches should be). Zed’s brunch is served from 11am to 3pm every Sunday.

The kid-friendly menu includes made-to-order omelets, a meat-carving station, waffles with assorted fruit toppings, and biscuits with homemade gravy. For grown-ups, there’s a build-your-own Bloody Mary Bar ($5) with tomato juices, spices, and pickled vegetables. Mimosas are just $2. Zed’s will also offer its regular a la carte lunch menu, featuring popular dishes including Wild Boar Gumbo, Apple Wood Smoked Bacon and Sausage, Specialty House Salads, and Scalloped Potatoes. Brunch buffett is $17 per person and $11 for children 12 and under.

Zed’s is at 501 Canyon Ridge Drive, south of Parmer Lane and I-35. Opened in December 2010, the restaurant is set upon three acres of land, complete with spacious decks and innovative water features, and brings an independent presence to North Austin. For reservations, call 512-583-0060 or visit for details.

TRACE, the W darling of the social dining scene, now serves brunch from 10:30am to 3:30pm every Sunday. The á la carte menu features everything from Fried Chicken and Waffles to the Lavaca Omelet, an egg dish with tender fried beef and a tomatillo sauce. The menu still offers TRACE’s signature Market Snacks and Charcuterie Board as well as new hybrid “breakfast desserts”, including the Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding and the Drunken Doughnuts topped with a bourbon dulce leche.

Brunch at TRACE also features innovative cocktail creations like the “South Austin Eye Opener”—fresh lemon and lime juice, egg white, bitters, simple syrup, fresh grapefruit juice, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur and Saavy Vodka.

“Austinites love brunch and we are happy to provide a relaxing atmosphere where guests can enjoy their meal outside on the plaza while they listen to some music and sip a mimosa,” says Food & Beverage Director Sean Bradshaw.

TRACE / W Hotel / 200 Lavaca St. / 512.542.3660 /

April 11, 2011

Austin: Easy Tiger (or, another 24 Diner post)

I leave for a just a bit and return to a dino bone parking lot under 35 and more bars and food trailers in Rainey than I can count. Downtown is sprawling, and come May, there’ll be this year’s Eastside Showroom, a bakery and beergarden called Easy Tiger, sure to be the foodie-and-mixologist crowd’s new fave. At 709 E. Sixth Street, the two-story 1890s building played host to a few SXSW shows, but its final buildout will include a coffee shop, artisan bakery (retail and wholesale), sidewalk seating (so Euro, but on the east side …), with a beer garden and huge outdoor patio downstairs overlooking Waller Creek.

The folks behind 24 Diner (seriously, could they stop doing awesome things so I could stop incessantly blogging about them??) are largely responsible for all this goodness, plus famous artisan baker David Norman. 24 Diner executive chef Andrew Curren’s Easy Tiger menu will include smoked and fresh housemade sausages, house-cured corned beef and smoked pastrami, as well as homemade krauts, relishes, and peperonata.

Billy Caruso oversees wine and beer (local, natch), and designer Veronica Koltuniak (clients include Madonna and J. Lo) describes the look and feel of the space as “turn-of-the-century building meets end-of-the-century kitsch.” The Royal Tenenbaums are her inspiration.

Who else can’t wait for the gluten-goodness of beer and bread in May??


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