Austin restaurant earns honor of Best Wine List in North America

Looking for a bottle of 2015 Jean Claude Courtault Chablis Grand Cru to pair with your appetizer of crab toast? Or maybe a bottle of Chappellet’s Pritchard Hill Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon to go with your dry-aged bone-in ribeye? This Clarksville institution has you covered.

Emma Janzen AMERICAN-STATESMAN

One of the deepest, broadest and most exclusive wine lists in Texas has been honored as the Best Medium-Size Wine List in North America by The World of Fine Wine. After several years of advancing up the star rankings, Jeffrey’s earned the distinction this month from the industry publication, which had the following to say about the program led by Master Sommelier and McGuire Moorman Hospitality vice president of operations June Rodil.

The wine list embodies clarity and complexity with defined headlines such as ‘Grower Champagne’, with labels from Robert Barbichon Blanc de Noirs Brut NV, to Jacques Selosse “Millésimé” Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 2005, and ‘Négociant Champagne’, such as Bollinger “La Grande Année” 2005, and Ruinart Rosé Brut NV. Not overlooking sparkling wines, a few cherry-picked options from Spain and Italy are some of the options available, alongside Oregon’s Soter “Mineral Springs Ranch” Brut Rosé, which is sustainably produced.

Judges of the 2017 awards commented that Jeffrey’s has an, “Elegant choice and layout”, with a “very good spirit selection.”

Austin restaurant lands on Food & Wine’s 40 Most Important Restaurants of the Past 40 Years

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If you want to take a tour of modern American culinary history, from West Coast to East, you could do a lot worse than starting with Food & Wine magazine’s recently released list of the 40 Most Important Restaurants of the Past 40 Years. It would be a dining tour that would take you from The French Laundry in Yountville to Daniel in New York City, with stops at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant and Commander’s Palace in New Orleans and much more.

Franklin Barbecue in Austin. (Laura Skelding/2014 American-Statesman)

Food & Wine’s comprehensive list would also send you to Texas where you would make a stop at arguably the most famous barbecue restaurant in the world. Aaron Franklin was the first barbecue cook to ever win a James Beard Award for Best Chef, and now his and wife Stacy’s restaurant, Franklin Barbecue, has landed a spot side by side with some of the nation’s most classic and beloved institutions. Of the restaurant, the magazine writes, “The occasional six-hour line is worth it, we promise; the lunch-only spot delivers on the hype, a rare feat in restaurants.”

Also making the list were Brennan’s of Houston and The Mansion in Dallas. Check out all 40 here.

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Two Austin restaurants land on Bon Appetit’s 50 Best New Restaurants in America list

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Bon Appetit today released its list of the 50 best new restaurants in America, a list they call the Hot 50. Overseen by newly minted Austinite Andrew Knowlton, the list includes Austin spots Sour Duck Market and Suerte. The former is a bakery, cafe and bar from the team behind Odd Duck, while the latter is a masa-loving modern Mexican restaurant from owner Sam Hellman-Mass, also an Odd Duck co-founder, and executive chef Fermin Nuñez. I recently called Suerte the best restaurant to open in Austin this year, granting it a 9.5 rating, and the East Austin restaurant was also recently named one of the 18 best new restaurants in America by Eater national restaurant critic Bill Addison. Bon Appetit will name its final Hot 10 on August 14.

The Green Chorizo Tlayuda, made with white bean refrito, quesillo, almond, and pumpkin seeds, is on the menu at the modern Mexican restaurant, Suerte. (Amanda Voisard/AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

 

 

Austin chefs Bryce Gilmore and Michael Fojtasek come up short at James Beard Awards

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It wasn’t Austin’s night at the James Beard Foundation Awards. The city boasted two of the five nominees for Best Chef: Southwest at Monday night’s awards, but Barley Swine chef-owner Bryce Gilmore and Olamaie chef-owner Michael Fojtasek were beat out by Alex Seidel of Mercantile in Denver. 

This was the sixth consecutive year Gilmore attended the awards as a finalist and the first such appearance by Fojtasek.

Bryce Gilmore is exeucitve chef and owner of Barley Swine at 6555 Burnet Rd in North Austin.
(Ralph Barrera /AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Gilmore and Fojtasek did not enter the small fraternity of three Austin chefs (Tyson Cole, Paul Qui and Aaron Franklin) who previously have won the award, but their two restaurants have taken top honors in the Austin360 Dining Guide four of the past five years.

Seidel also beat out chefs Steve McHugh of Cured in San Antonio and Martín Rios of Restaurant Martín in Santa Fe.

Earlier in the evening, Otoko failed to take home the prize for restaurant design. 

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Austin360 Dining Guide: Barley Swine | Odd Duck | Olamaie | Otoko

Watch Austin chefs Gilmore and Fojtasek compete at James Beard Awards tonight

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Barley Swine founder and chef Bryce Gilmore and Olamaie founder and chef Michael Fojtasek are up in Chicago right now for the James Beard Awards. This is the sixth consecutive year Gilmore, whose Barley Swine has taken home top Austin restaurant honors twice from this critic, has been a finalist for Best Chef: Southwest and the first such nomination for Fojtasek, whose Olamaie has also been named #1 twice by me.

Chef Michael Fojtasek at Olamaie on May 9, 2017. (TAMIR KALIFA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The Oscars of the restaurant world take place this evening and you can watch the ceremony streaming online. The red carpet coverage starts at 5:30 p.m. followed by the ceremony at 6 p.m.

Former Austin winners of the award include Tyson Cole of Uchi (2o11), Paul Qui while at Uchiko (2012) and Aaron Franklin (2015). The two Austin chefs are competing against Steve McHugh of Cured in San Antonio, Martín Rios, of Restaurant Martín in Santa Fe and Alex Seidel of Mercantile in Denver.

The Michael Hsu Office of Architecture was also named a finalist for best restaurant design for Otoko at the South Congress Hotel.

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2017 Austin360 Dining Guide’s Top 25:

Food & Wine names Austin restaurant one of 10 Best New Restaurants in America

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The accolades continue to pour in for chefs Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya Matsumoto’s Japanese smokehouse, Kemuri Tatsu-Ya. After landing a spot on my list of best new restaurants last year and a Top 10 ranking in my annual Austin360 Dining Guide, along with a top mention from Bon Appetit, the good-timin restaurant in East Austin was named one of the 10 Best New Restaurants in America by Food & Wine restaurant editor Jordana Rothman. One of her favorite things about the restaurant that mashes up Japanese and Texas cultures? The barbecue ramen, of course:

If there’s one dish that sums up the spirit of Kemuri, it would be the BBQ Tsukemen—springy noodles in one bowl, a thick dipping broth in another. That soup is a three-day labor of love that stacks collagen-rich chicken and pork feet for texture with smoked brisket burnt ends, kombu, and katsuobushi. The result is murky magic that you’ll want to polish off like a shot of whiskey.

Hearts and beef tongue at Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, one of Austin’s best new restaurants. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Kemuri is joined on the list by Better Luck Tomorrow, the Houston bar-restaurant from chef Justin Yu and Texas’ mixology godfather, Bobby Heugel. The rest of Rothman’s exciting list bounces around the country, with welcome nods to places as diverse as Minneapolis, Seattle and Ferndale, Michigan. See the full list here.

The list comes in the middle of a spate of news from the Kemuri owners, who have announced that they have signed a lease on Burnet Road and are going to take over the space on East Sixth Street formerly occupied by Qui.

The magazine last year named June’s All Day one of the country’s best new spots.

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Chefs Michael Fojtasek of Olamaie and Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine named James Beard Award finalists

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The James Beard award for the Best Chef Southwest category has two big Austin names competing for the crown. Michael Fojtasek (Olamaie) and Bryce Gilmore (Barley Swine) were both named finalists today for the prestigious culinary award. The other nominees for the category include Steve McHugh of Cured in San Antonio, Martín Rios, of Restaurant Martín in Santa Fe and Alex Seidel of Mercantile in Denver. The Michael Hsu Office of Architecture was also named a finalist for best restaurant design for Otoko at the South Congress Hotel.

Chef Michael Fojtasek at Olamaie on May 9, 2017. (TAMIR KALIFA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Gilmore was Austin’s only semifinalist last year, and the chef went on to earn his fifth consecutive finalist nod, but the city has done well in recent years. Aaron Franklin won the award in 2015, and former Austin winners include Paul Qui (2012) and Tyson Cole of Uchi (2011), Austin’s first-ever winner.

For the complete list of all nominees, go to jamesbeard.org.

The awards will be handed out on May 7 in Chicago, with the ceremony streaming live online.

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Austin360 Dining Guide’s Top 25:

Olamaie (#1) | Barley Swine (#7) | Kemuri Tatsu-Ya (#9) | Launderette (#18)

Seven Austin restaurants land on Eater’s 38 Essential restaurants in Texas

Eater National’s roving critic Bill Addison recently spent quite a bit of time traversing the great state of Texas for the Texas 38, a list of the “Essential” restaurants in the state and a play on the Essential 38 lists run in each of Eater’s cities and several regions around the country.

Franklin Barbecue. (Matthew Odam AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

In the words of Addison, the list includes “singular steakhouses, barbecue standard-bearers, Tex-Mex strongholds, and cafes serving outstanding burgers, breakfast tacos, and kolaches: the foods that make Texas defy trendiness,” as well as restaurants that “reflect the rich multiculturalism of its metropolises.”

Austin had seven entrants make the cut. They are (with the parenthetical numbers showing the restaurant’s list in our annual Austin360 Dining Guide: Contigo (Critic’s Pick), Emmer & Rye (#5), Franklin Barbecue (#10), Kemuri Tatsu-Ya (#9), Odd Duck (#4), Tamale House East (n/a) and Veracruz All-Natural (Critic’s Pick). That list of Austin restaurants checks a lot of boxes: rustic, farm-to-table, Japanese, barbecue and tacos. The biggest surprises on omissions would probably be Olamaie (#1), Dai Due (#3), Lenoir (#2) and Barley Swine (#7, though sister restaurant Odd Duck did make it in).

Addison was joined in compiling the list by Eater Austin editor Nadia Chaudhury, Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn, who tackled the barbecue restaurants around the state, and others. Houston, not surprisingly, had the most entrants on the list with 10.

To read the complete Eater Texas 38 click here.

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Two Austin restaurants land on Texas Monthly’s annual list of 10 best new restaurants

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The national magazine of Texas this morning weighed in on all of the great new additions to the state’s dining scene. Longtime Texas Monthly restaurant critic Patricia Sharpe announced her 10 Best New Restaurants in the state and Austin’s Kemuri Tatsu-Ya came in at #2, behind Houston chef Hugo Ortega’s Oaxacan restaurant Xochi; and Pitchfork Pretty in East Austin landed at #7. I named those two restaurants (along with Bonhomie) as best new restaurant in Austin last year. Bonhomie also found a spot on Sharpe’s list, earning an honorable mention nod, along with Spanish restaurant El Chipirón. Houston had the biggest 2017, nabbing four of the top 10 spots. For the complete list, visit TexasMonthly.com.

Ruby trout poached in olive oil with roasted tomatoes, fennel and breadcrumbs at Pitchfork Pretty 2708 E Cesar Chavez, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. (Stephen Spillman/FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

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2017 Austin360 Dining Guide: Kemuri Tatsu-Ya (#9) | Pitchfork Pretty (#11) | Bonhomie (#16)

StarChefs names several Rising Stars in Austin culinary community

Industry publication StarChefs has returned its focus to the Austin-San Antonio corridor for the first time in five years, this week handing out their Rising Stars awards to local culinary talent.

Chef Michael Fojtasek at Olamaie on May 9, 2017. (TAMIR KALIFA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

This year’s crop of winners includes Kevin Fink and Page Pressley of Emmer & Rye (#5 in our Dining Guide), Tatsu Aikawa of Kemuri tatsu-Ya (#9 in our Dining Guide); Fiore Tedesco of L’Oca d’Oro (#8 in our Dining Guide), Adam Brick, the former Apis chef who recently announced he has joined as a partner at the soon-to-change Vino Vino; former counter 357 executive chef Damien Brockway; Michael Fojtasek of Olamaie (#1 in our Dining Guide); and Max Snyder of Pitchfork Pretty (#11 in our Dining Guide).

To celebrate the newly named Rising Stars, StarChefs will host an awards ceremony and tasting event on December 13 at Fair Market in East Austin. The event will feature tastings from all of the honored chefs, as well as pastry chef winners Tavel Bristol-Joseph (Emmer & Rye) and Daniela Herrera (Counter 357) and other winners in the artisan and beverage categories. For the evening’s complete menu, visit starchefs.com.

Tickets cost $85 ($125 for VIP tickets) and can be purchased online. Proceeds from the event will benefit Austin Food & Wine Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering awareness and innovation in the Central Texas culinary community.

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