Happy Halloween: Three desserts at Austin restaurants I’ve loved this year

In honor of the sweetest of holidays, I’ve put together a list of three desserts I’ve loved at restaurants that have opened since last Halloween.

 The s’mores tartufo at L'Oca d'Oro reached precariously toward the sky like a dessert Tower of Pisa featured a graham cracker base, balls of hazelnut and caramel gelato, a dripping chocolate cap and a gooey coat of toasted marshmallow cream. It looked like a bunch of tartufos had jumped on top of each other and draped themselves in a trenchcoat like a wobbly caricature detective in a kid’s book. (Credit: Jay Janner)
The s’mores tartufo at L’Oca d’Oro reached precariously toward the sky like a dessert Tower of Pisa featured a graham cracker base, balls of hazelnut and caramel gelato, a dripping chocolate cap and a gooey coat of toasted marshmallow cream. It looked like a bunch of tartufos had jumped on top of each other and draped themselves in a trenchcoat like a wobbly caricature detective in a kid’s book. (Credit: Jay Janner)

 

A dense peanut butter semifreddo with chocolate cereal milk ice cream and cocoa crunchies that evoked the sugary breakfasts-in-a-box my mother would never let me have as a kid. (Credit: Rodolfo Gonzalez)
Geraldine’s: A dense peanut butter semifreddo with chocolate cereal milk ice cream and cocoa crunchies that evoked the sugary breakfasts-in-a-box my mother would never let me have as a kid. (Credit: Rodolfo Gonzalez)

 

Executive pastry chef Amanda Rockman's signature golden Basque cake laced with bright citrus and given sweet depth and complexity from charred dates and the rich tingle of speculoos at dinner at Cafe No Se. (Credit: Ricardo B. Brazziell) Cafe No Se Dinner Chocolate butterscotch semifreddo , coconut brittle, Whiskey, chocolate dip,, left and Rockman's basque cake, speculoos, charred dates, citrus, cour cream, righ on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Executive pastry chef Amanda Rockman’s signature golden Basque cake (right) laced with bright citrus and given sweet depth and complexity from charred dates and the rich tingle of speculoos at dinner at Cafe No Se. (Credit: Ricardo B. Brazziell) On the left,  a chocolate butterscotch semifreddo with coconut brittle.

 

 

Drive-thru salad concept Baby Greens opens Tuesday in North Austin

Baby Greens opens Tuesday on Anderson Lane. (Credit: Trinity Contractors via Baby Greens Facebook)
Baby Greens opens Tuesday on Anderson Lane. (Credit: Trinity Contractors via Baby Greens Facebook)

After about a seven-year absence, Baby Greens has returned to give Austinites another healthy fast-food option. Sharon Mays, who closed Baby Greens in 2009, opened a new double drive-thru location Tuesday at 1508 W. Anderson Lane. The restaurant, which is open for both lunch and dinner, serves wraps and salads, like the Rainbow Salad, a mix of greens, purple cabbage, carrots, avocado, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and feta cheese. Baby Greens is open Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays until 6 p.m.

An update on the Home Slice Pizza coming to North Loop

A pizza from Home Slice Pizza covered with heart-shaped pepperonis. 02/04/15 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN
A pizza from Home Slice Pizza covered with heart-shaped pepperonis. 02/04/15 Tom McCarthy Jr. for AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The wheels of progress can be slow moving at times, as the folks at Home Slice Pizza can attest. The owners of the popular pizzeria on South Congress Avenue announced in September of last year that they were planning to open a location at 501 E. 53rd St. After a long wait, the Home Slice folks were granted a conditional use permit this week. Next up: actual building permits, with construction hopefully starting in December. What does this mean for diners: co-owner Jen Strickland is targeting a spring opening.

 

 

Stiles Switch team expanding to Dripping Springs with help from Lenoir chef

(Thao Nguyen/FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
(Thao Nguyen/FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Residents of Austin’s western suburbs got some good news this morning. The owners of Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew in North Austin are building a second concept, as first reported by Daniel Vaughn at TMBBQ.  The location won’t be Stiles Switch 2, according to the owners, but will expand on the current menu and add Southern cuisine via a menu designed in collaboration with Lenoir chef-owner Todd Duplechan.

The pit crew will continue to be led by lead pitmaster Lance Kirkpatrick and the original pit crew made up of Stiles Switch BBQ alums Andy Stapp, Alanmykal Jackson and Bill Dumas. The restaurant, located at the Endeavor at Belterra Village development off US 290 at Nutty Brown Road, is slated for a fall 2017 opening.

“This is an exciting time for us. With this new concept we are getting the opportunity to use our creativity in building this location from the ground floor. Our goal is to continue pushing the limits of our culinary and pit room talents rooted in Central Texas craft style barbecue, while adding a new layer of creativity in our kitchen with both Southern and regionally influenced cuisine compliments. There is so much we are planning for this location so we’ll keep a little to ourselves for now, but be prepared to be entertained,” owner-operator Shane Stiles said.

Related: Central Texas barbecue all-stars (2016) | Austin’s best barbecue (2014)

Staffing news: Jason Dodge named new executive chef at Vino Vino following Cak departure

Jason Dodge at Peche in 2012. (Mark Matson FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Jason Dodge at Peche in 2012. (Mark Matson FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

First things first: I owe an apology to chef Jessica Cak. I name-checked her in my write-up of Vino Vino in this year’s Austin360 Dining Guide (the restaurant from Jeff Courington and Kelly Bell ranked #22), but I got her first name wrong. I have no idea where I came up with the name Stephanie, but I apologize.

Now, on to the business at hand. After my guide came out over the weekend, I discovered that Cak had left her position as executive chef at the wine bar and bistro. She and her husband, pastry chef Steven Cak, decided to move back home to Minneapolis.

“Austin has been great for us, but I need to be closer to my family right now,” Cak said. “We will miss Austin a lot.”

I learned today that chef Jason Dodge has replaced Cak. A longtime Austin industry veteran, Dodge’s resume includes time at Vespaio, Cherry Street and Peche.

Events: Texas French Bread hosts Jester King Brewery for beer-paired dinner Monday

Just a few of the barrels of beer at Jester King Brewery on Tuesday, October 27, 2015. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Just a few of the barrels of beer at Jester King Brewery on Tuesday, October 27, 2015. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

One of the best breweries in Texas is teaming up with one of Austin360’s 2016 Critic’s Picks for a beer-paired dinner Monday night. Farm-to-table specialists Texas French Bread hosts a four-course dinner Monday night, with each course being complemented by brews from the Jester King Brewery. What can diners expect? The local brewers will serve several of their rare beers, including Fantôme Del Rey, Gotlandsdricka and CRU 55m  and “one surprise pour of something extra special.”

Tickets for the dinner are $85, and reservations can be made online. Check out the full menu here.

 

 

Event: No Kid Hungry benefit dinner and live auction Thursday night at South Congress Hotel

rbz South Congress Hotel 37A group of chefs from around Texas will join together at the South Congress Hotel (1603 S. Congress Ave.) Thursday night for a dinner and live auction to benefit No Kid Hungry, an organization dedicated to ending child hunger. Chefs from Supper (San Antonio), Fluff Bake Bar (Houston), Otoko and Emmer & Rye (Austin) will deliver a multi-course meal, with pre-meal cocktails from Justin Elliott of The Townsend. Individual tickets are $175 and can be purchased at nokidhungry.org/austin.

 

Olamaie and Evan LeRoy team for meat-and-three tailgate before UT-Baylor game

(Credit: Ricardo B. Brazziell)
(Credit: Ricardo B. Brazziell)

Olamaie chef-owner Michael Fojtasek welcomes former Freedmen’s pitmaster Evan LeRoy for a Southern meat-and-three tailgate party before the University of Texas-Baylor tilt at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium on October 29. The brunch, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., will feature brisket, sausage and pork belly, along with a host of sides, beer from Live Oak Brewing and bottomless punch because the South. The event is for 21+ only and tickets cost $60, available at olamaieaustin.com/events.  LeRoy also recently announced a series of Sunday dinners he will produce with the crew over at Salt & Time.

The Brewer’s Table names executive chef, announces series of pop-ups starting with Franklin Barbecue

The Brewer's Table executive chef Zach Hunter. (Credit: Tyler Malone FOR THE BREWER'S TABLE)
The Brewer’s Table executive chef Zach Hunter. (Credit: Tyler Malone FOR THE BREWER’S TABLE)

The Brewer’s Table has announced that Zach Hunter will serve as the executive chef at the restaurant brewery from industry veteran Jake Maddux. Hunter previously served as chef de cuisine at modern Southern restaurant Fixe in downtown Austin.

As The Brewer’s Table, which will focus on dishes from a wood-fired grill, eyes its 2017 opening, it will host a series of pop-up dinners in Austin and outside of the state. The series begins on October 30 at Franklin Barbecue with a free multi-course dinner paired with local house brews, with tickets available via a lottery system administered through The Brewer’s Table’s mailing list. Sign up at thebrewerstable.com by October 25.

Following that dinner, The Brewer’s Table will head to Colorado (New Belgium Brewing) on November 9, then California and New York in the next two months.

“For the dinner at Franklin we will be paying homage to the space as guests will make their way through the counter-service line, grabbing a bite directly from our team, before flowing into a service experience more in line with what guests can expect from The Brewer’ Table,” Maddux said.

The Brewer’s Table also includes former Qui general manager Bill Mann, most recently of Olamaie; consulting chef Jorge Hernández, also a Qui veteran who worked for years under groundbreaking chef José Andrés; and head brewer Drew Durish, formerly of Live Oak Brewing.
For more information about The Brewer’s Table’s events, visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.