Jenna’s Asian Kitchen opened last week at 12300 RR 620 N. The sleek restaurant serves “traditional Asian recipes prepared with a modern flair,” according to its website. Dishes include salt and pepper octopus, grilled fish and Korean fried chicken. The restaurant is open Sunday- Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
One of the signs of a great business? Asking customers for their thoughts, listening, and responding in a prudent and thoughtful manner. Marketing is everything you do to get and keep customers, and what Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League posted today is another sign of great marketing and customer care. Last month League asked Alamo fans on Facebook what changes they would like to see. Many of the complaints and requests for change concerned food.
League responded today with a blog post, in which he wrote the following:
“I’ve also asked each of our kitchen managers to provide their own feedback on what they would do to improve each item on the existing menu. We’re going to bring back some favorites that people are requesting and we will be tweaking recipes on several of the existing items. We intend to roll out a revised menu prior to Avengers at the beginning of May and I look forward to your continued feedback on those changes. We’ll also be inviting some of you who had specific suggestions to try our new items before they hit the menu.”
You can read the whole blog post here, but below are some of League’s responses to food-related concerns:
Feedback: Alamo queso can be better
Response: I agree. We worked up a new recipe that we all think is a big improvement. It was being served at Lamar and Ritz and if the feedback is good, the recipe will be rolled out system-wide before Avengers.
Feedback: Change the menu/Better food quality/More options
Response: This is the big one. There are lots and lots of specific requests. We’ve captured them all and will be tweaking the menu prior to Avengers. We’ll add back in some favorites, tweak some existing items and introduce a few new items. We do also run quarterly specials now, so if you haven’t been in a while, make sure to check out the front pages for those. We’re also hiring now for a new VP of food and beverage this summer who should also usher forth some more improvements down the road.
Feedback: More and better vegan options/healthy options
Response: We’ve been testing vegan items at various locations in Austin for a while. Rolling out a consolidated vegan/healthy section will be part of the menu rollout slated for before Avengers.
Feedback: Better kids menu
Response: This is in the early planning stages. We are planning on rolling out an improved kids menu in the fall.
Feedback: Bring more napkins, especially with queso and wings.
Response: Changing the policy in Austin this week. This should be rolled out system-wide by Avengers. We’re also looking at better quality napkins.
The Austin Food and Wine Alliance today announced the chef roster and menu for its fifth annual Live Fire. The event takes place April 9 at the Salt Lick Pavilion in Driftwood and features about two dozen chefs serving food from an open fire, along with a host of spirits, wine and beer.
The chefs (and their dishes) include Azhar Mohammad of The Carillon (Spice Crusted and Smoked Tri-Tip with Maple Mustard Glaze), Kristine Kittrell of Weather Up (peppered beef and frites), John Philpot of The Monterey in San Antonio (tamarind tare-glazed sweet bread with charred fennel coconut salad in a beef fat vinaigrette), David Uygur of Lucia in Dallas (grilled beef bell), and Tom Micklethwait of Micklethwait Craft Meats (oak-smoked ribeye).
Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar (Houston) and Janina O’Leary of LaV are two of the notable pastry chefs who will be in attendance. Masson will serve hazelnut mini drumsticks made with praline ice cream at her first Live Fire appearance, and O’Leary will make a black pepper shortbread with champagne strawberries and crème fraîche.
Olamaie chefs Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas of Olamaie have been named to the list of Best New Chefs 2015 by ‘Food & Wine’ magazine. The two chefs, who opened their refined Southern restaurant last year, are part of a group representing 10 restaurants from around the country. The co-executive chefs are the only Texas chefs on the list.
Here’s part of what ‘Food & Wine’ had to say about the two chefs (and, yes, get the biscuits. Best I’ve ever had):
Why They’re Amazing: The duo—who met while working at one of L.A.’s hippest restaurants (Son of a Gun)—share a passion for classic Southern cooking, locavorism and innovation. This magical combination results in dishes like whey-caramel-glazed sweet potatoes with popped sorghum and crudo with puffed black rice, benne seeds and pickled watermelon rind. Quintessential Dish: Chilled North Carolina crab salad with Carolina gold rice, kuri squash pudding and radish Insider Tip: The ultra-popular handmade biscuits are available by request only and in limited quantities. “If we put them on the menu,” says Fojtasek, “we’d be doing nothing but making biscuits all day long.”
The 2015 winners will be featured in the July issue of ‘Food & Wine’ and will appear at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen from June 19-21.
The rest of the 2015 ‘Food & Wine’ Best New Chefs:
Gelateria Gemelli opened at 1009 E. Sixth St. in the Corazon building over the weekend. The gelateria from Bologna-trained Andrew Sabola serves gelato, sorbetto, espresso drinks and Italian craft cocktails. The gelati, which include flavors like brown butter vanilla, Valrhona chocolate, salted caramel stracciatella, cardamom orange and peanut butter maple, is preservative free and the cocktail list includes Italian standards like Negroni and Aperol Spritz, as well as a selection of Amaro.
“Through my formal training and after sampling many fine gelatos in Italy, I have come to respect the art of perfectly capturing the essence of a particular flavor,” Sabola said. “There is a current trend to combine unusual, off-the-wall flavors in ice cream. We are dialing it back a notch. We want to re-introduce our guests to the simple beauty of the freshest ingredients, prepared with exceedingly high standards, following the same traditions of the finest gelaterias of Italy.”
Veggie-centric fine dining restaurant Gardner (1914 E. Sixth St.) introduced a four-course prix fixe dinner on Mondays for $28. The new option sounds like a great way to familiarize yourself with the restaurant’s style, service and cuisine. A la carte options are still available on Mondays, as well. Make reservations at gardner-austin.com or by calling 512-354-1480. For my review of Gardner, click here.
The third annual Waller Creek Pop-Up Picnic will take place April 18 at Palm Park (711 E. 3rd St.). The event, which benefits the Waller Creek Conservancy, offers participants the chance to purchase loaded picnic baskets from some of Austin’s best restaurants and chefs, including Sway, Home Slice Pizza, Lucy’s Fried Chicken, Franklin BBQ and The Salt Lick. Baskets from some restaurants, including Jeffrey’s and LaV, will include drink pairings (beer will be sold on site), and Gardner and Lenoir will sell vegetarian baskets. The baskets, which sold quickly last year, serve two people and can be picked up the day of the event.
“The Waller Creek Pop-Up Picnic is a preview experience of what a transformed Waller Creek will become—a place, welcome to all, where Austin’s neighbors come together to engage and enjoy its parks and natural resources,” Waller Creek CEO Peter Mullan said.
For more information, or to purchase baskets, visit wallercreekpicnic.org.
To get a sense of the day’s events, watch a recap of last year’s picnic below:
ThunderCloud Subs will celebrate its 40th anniversary throughout the month of April with sandwich specials priced at their original 1975 prices. The deals run each Wednesday through the month, beginning with the ham sandwich ($1.10 for a small and $1.45 for a large). The rest of the specials, available at each of the 30 TCloud locations, are as follows:
April 8: Tuna $1/$1.30
April 15: Salami $ .95/$1.25
April 22: Turkey $1.25/$1.60
April 29: American Classic $1/$1.30
ThunderCloud will announce additional 40th anniversary specials and promotions throughout the year.
Executive chef Alexis Chong and Sway have parted ways, according to the restaurant’s reps. Director of Culinary Development Scotty Szekretar will serve as the interim executive chef while the Thai restaurant searches for Chong’s replacement. Chong replaced Rene Ortiz in August 2013.
“The current culinary team at Sway is extremely skilled, and will continue knocking out amazing services, building up talented young chefs, and compelling guests to return for the experience we all know and love,” the Violet Crown management group said in a statement.
Dai Due. 2406 Manor Rd. 512-524-0688, daidue.com. The butcher shop at the locavore establishment will sell deboned rabbits stuffed with sweetbreads, bacon and cream, as well as rack of lamb, lamb sausage and lamb sirloin roasts from Windy Hill Farms. Call for orders.
Daily Grill. 11506 Century Oaks Terrace. 512-836-4200, dailygrill.com. The Domain restaurant will offer a la carte brunch specials from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. including Texas French toast, spinach salad with blackened scallops, and pan-seared salmon.
Eddie V’s Prime Seafood. 301 E. 5th St. 512-472-1860; 9400 B Arboretum Blvd. 512-342-2642, eddiev.com. The steakhouse will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and feature a three-course prix-fixe meal for adults ($45) and a two-course menu for children ($15). The adult menu will feature items like lobster and shrimp bisque and roasted chicken breast, while the children’s menu will feature items like crispy chicken fingers and dark chocolate and crushed toffee s’mores. The restaurant’s full, a la carte dinner menu also will be available.
Eden East. 755 Springdale Rd. 512-428-6500, edeneast.com. Sonya Cote’s bucolic farm-side restaurant will host an adult Easter egg hunt, cocktails and brunch that includes quiche and grilled Wagyu. Brunch costs $100 per person. Make reservations online.
11 Plates and Wine. 3801 Loop 360. 512-328-0110, elevenplates.com. The restaurant will serve a large brunch buffet with multiple stations (omelets, carved meats, etc.). $40 for adults (13 and older), $17 for kids (12-5), Free (under 5).
Epicerie. 2307 Hancock Dr. 512-371-6840, epicerieaustin.com. Chef Sarah McIntosh’s café will serve a special brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring rabbit.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. 320 E. 2nd St. 512-457-1500; 11600 Century Oaks Terrace, 512-835-9463, flemingssteakhouse.com. The steakhouses will serve three-course meals featuring lobster bisque, eggs Benedict and prime rib for $40. Additionally, each party will receive a $25 gift card for future visits.
Goodall’s Kitchen. 1900 Rio Grande St. 512-495-1800, goodallskitchen.com. The restaurant at Hotel Ella will serve brunch buffet featuring Easter ham and farm egg quiche from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The meal costs $65 for adults (includes mimosa bar) and $27 for children 12 and under.
Greenhouse Craft Food. 1400 E. Old Settlers Blvd.512-366-5567, greenhousecraftfood.com. Chef Rob Snow’s casual farm-to-table charmer in Round Rock serves brunch, with dishes like ham and chicken and waffles, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost is $17.99 for adults and $5.99 for children 12 and under.
La V. 1501 E. 6th St. 512-720-8112, lavaustin.com. The elegant restaurant will serve an extended brunch (10:30 to 3:30 p.m.) with their regular menu, that includes croissants, honey cheddar scones, oysters, buckwheat crepes and duch confit hash.
Lenoir. 1807 S. First St. 512-215-9778, lenoirrestaurant.com. Sous chef Melissa Moss will prepare a dinner featuring menu items from traditional Passover Seders. The four-course dinner is $40 and reservations are required.
Odd Duck. 1201 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-433-6521, oddduckaustin.com. The farm-to-table specialists will serve brunch featuring a rabbit special from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Olive & June. 3411 Glenview Ave. 512-467-9898, oliveandjune-austin.com. The modernist Italian treehouse restaurant will serve a four-course brunch ($42), including rabbit porchetta and carrot cake, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The restaurant will reopen at 5 p.m. for its regular Sunday dinner service.
Omni Barton Creek. 8212 Barton Club Dr. 512-329-7906, omnihotels.com/bartoncreek. The resort’s restaurant will serve a large brunch buffet with multiple stations (omelets, carved meats, etc.) from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Price is $65.95 for adults, $23.99 for children ages 6-12, and free for children under 5-years-old.
Peche. 208 W. Fourth St. 512-494-4011, pecheaustin.com. The craft cocktail bar will open at 5 p.m. and serve a lamb special.
Russian House. 307 E. Fifth St. 512-428-5442, russianhouseofaustin.com. The colorful restaurant will hold an Easter egg hunt and serve a brunch buffet. Cost is $32 for adults and $12.50 for children.
Searsucker. 415 Colorado St. 512-394-8000, searsucker.com/austin. Easter specials runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at this Warehouse District spot that will serve a menu that includes rabbit sausage hash. Following brunch and lunch, all-night happy hour includes half-off selected appetizers and drink specials.
St. Philip. 4715 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-358-7445, stpaustin.com. The pizza parlor and bakery from the Uchi team will serve brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with offerings like brulee’d French toast and brisket hash.
Trace. 200 Lavaca St. 512-542-3660, traceaustin.com. The restaurant the W Hotel Austin will serve a three-course fixed menu for $55 per person from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The meal includes items like crab cake Benedict, grilled Easter ham, and braised short ribs, as well as a complimentary glass of rosé.
Zed’s. 501 W Canyon Ridge Dr. 512-339-9337, zeds.bz. Jazz from Jeff Lofton, balloon art, Easter egg hunt and a buffet that runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult buffet is $30; $13 for children’s buffet.