Looking ahead: Eddie V’s founders opening Italian restaurant downtown

They don’t get as much fanfare as some of their peers, but Guy Vilavaso, Larry Foles and executive chef John Carver have had remarkable careers in Austin and beyond. The trio founded Eddie V’s, before selling the eight-restaurant chain to Darden Restaurants for $58 million in 2011, as well as the Roaring Fork and Wildfish.

This spring they turn their entrepreneurial gaze toward an Italian. The trio will open Red Ash in the Colorado Tower at Third and Colorado streets. The restaurant will feature a wood-fired oven, as well as homemade pasta like pappardelle with wild boar and selections of artisan charcuterie and cheese. Specialties will include Gulf red snapper a la plancha, wood-roasted stuffed porchetta, and traditional wood-roasted lobster tails. The restaurant is slated to open in the spring, with a June launch eyed.

Jeff Blank has sold Hudson’s on the Bend

klw hudsons 01.jpgAn end of an era has arrived for Austin-area dining. Jeff Blank has sold Hudson’s on the Bend.

Before television turned out new chef celebrities seemingly every other week and diners in Austin had a plethora of restaurant options, there was Blank and Hudson’s on the Bend.

Blank opened the game-centric restaurant near Lake Travis in 1984, and the romantic getaway quickly became a destination for special occasion dinners thanks to its rustic ambiance and intriguing Southwestern cuisine like rattlesnake cakes.

Citing health concerns, Blank sold the restaurant to restaurateurs chef Billy Caruso and Chris McFall. The sale includes the property at 3509 RM 620, as well as Hudson’s casual trailer spin-off, the Mighty Cone.

Caruso, a Lake Travis native and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, currently serves as the executive chef at III Forks in Chicago and has a history of front-of-house experience in a variety of positions at Austin restaurants III Forks, Paggi House and Botticelli’s.

McFall, an advanced sommelier and Austin native, has served as wine expert and beverage director at Austin restaurants Paggi House, Lamberts Downtown Barbecue and Sullivan’s Steakhouse as well as Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Houston.

“Billy grew up here. He’s eaten at Hudson’s his whole life. He knows many of our staff,” Blank said in a release. “I was 34 when we opened Hudson’s. He’s 31. He’s experienced, and he knows the food we do and wants to carry on that tradition.”

Caruso says many of the Hudson’s classic dishes will remain and will be joined by new menu additions dictated by the produce available at local farms and from Hudson’s on-site garden. The restaurant’s name will remain the same, and the majority of the staff will continue at Hudson’s.

Hudson’s on the Bend will close temporarily on April 4 and reopen after minor renovations.  Cosmetic changes will include an expansion of the outdoor patio, which will be updated with air conditioning and heating, lifting of the low ceiling in the upstairs dining room, and removal of the lobby. The private dining room will be relocated to make room for a new wine cellar, under the direction of McFall.

To commemorate Blank’s retirement, Hudson’s will host a week of farewell dinners, starting today and running through Sunday, with Blank in attendance.

Blank will serve as a consultant to Caruso but plans to focus on “special-occasion and destination offerings” at his lakefront home. He also intends to pen an autobiography.

During his tenure at Hudson’s, during which he became one of the few Austin chefs receiving early national attention, Blank also opened the Wineskin Restaurant in Aspen, Colo., and the Ocotillo at the Lajitas Golf Resort in West Texas.

For information on the farewell dinners or to make a reservation, visit hudsonsonthebend.com or call 512-266-1369.



Lick Honest Ice Creams closes original this week, new location coming next week

(l to r) Caramel Salt Lick ice cream and Rosemary with sweet peaches and honey from Lick on South Lamar Boulevard.
(l to r) Caramel Salt Lick ice cream and Rosemary with sweet peaches and honey from Lick on South Lamar Boulevard.

After almost five years, Lick Honest Ice Creams is closing up shop at its original 2032 S. Lamar Blvd. location. The farm-to-cream shop owned by Anthony Sobotik and Chad Pamatier will serve its final scoops at the location on Wednesday at 10 p.m.

But South Austinites need not worry. Lick will open a new location at 1100 S. Lamar Blvd. in the Lamar Union mixed-use development next Tuesday (4/5). To celebrate the opening, they are giving away a free scoop to each customer from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. that day, and all proceeds from the first day of business will benefit Hill Country Ride for AIDS (HCRA).

Lick is the latest in the exodus from the old shopping center on South Lamar, with Horseshoe Lounge closing up shop last year and Barley Swine moving from South Austin to North Austin earlier this year.

The Lamar Union location will have the same hours as the original South Lamar location, 12:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and until 11:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The new shop, which will be about 20 percent bigger than the original, will join a Lick family that includes locations at 6555 Burnet Road and at the Pearl complex in San Antonio.



Chicon opens tonight in the former Gardner space

Red and yellow beets with grapefruit yogurt at Chicon. (Credit: Kate LeSueur)
Red and yellow beets with grapefruit yogurt at Chicon. (Credit: Kate LeSueur)

Less than a month after they closed their veggie-centric fine dining restaurant Gardner, restaurateurs Ben Edgerton and chef Andrew Wiseheart have rebooted the space to create Chicon. The more casual restaurant is a sister restaurant to the duo’s popular Contigo, which serves ranch-inspired cuisine in East Austin.

Chicon, which opens Monday night, will serve many wood-fired dishes, along with cocktails, beer and wine. The menu includes sharable small plates like goat and gnocchi with parmesan, black pepper and tomato broth ($13) and entrees like a 36oz T-bone steak with fried onions, potato soubise sauce, chimichurri, burnt onion crème fraîche, red wine butter, and escarole with toasted garlic.

The bar, which is now included in the space of the main dining room will serve cocktails such as the New Delhi Mule, made with vodka, grapefruit, ginger beer, honey, and cardamom ($8) and the Concombre, made with tequila, cucumber, lime, and jalapeño ($9). The restaurant is open nightly from 5 p.m.

“I am excited to make the food my family, team, and friends and I love to eat,” says Chef Wiseheart. “We’re using simple, quality ingredients from places like Dewberry Hill Farms, Johnson’s Backyard Garden, Windy Bar Ranch, Black Hill Ranch, Springdale Farm, and more.  Chicon, like Contigo, has been designed to allow for what we hope will be a fun and inviting experience, think of it like your neighborhood dining room.”

For menus and more information, click here.

Uber Eats now offers daily all-day delivery from almost 100 restaurants to more neighborhoods

A dynamite roll from Kome and soy-marinated chicken from Chi'Lantro delivered by UberEATS. (Credit: Kelly West AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
A dynamite roll from Kome and soy-marinated chicken from Chi’Lantro delivered by UberEATS. (Credit: Kelly West AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

When Uber Eats launched in Austin last summer, the service delivered a handful of meals from a few restaurants and shops. Delivery was limited to weekday lunch hours and only for people located in the downtown core.

Not long ago it expanded to include neighborhoods that extended a few miles outside of downtown. But it was still just a few restaurants and only lunch.

Today the service announced its biggest growth move yet. Uber Eats now delivers meals daily from almost 100 restaurants from 8 a.m. to midnight. Just think, you’ll never have to leave your couch/desk again.
The new delivery zone is defined by Loop 360, US 183 and Texas 71 to the west, north, east and south, respectively.

New participating restaurants in the expanded service include Hillside Farmacy, Unit-D Pizzeria, Freedmen’s Barbecue, Krispy Kreme and more. Meals are replenished by drivers throughout the day and kept in cold and hot bags to maintain the proper temperature.

The “instant delivery” of a few curated meals in less than 10 minutes is still only available during lunch hours, with boundaries of MoPac, 38th Street, and Oltorf Wes of I-35 and 12th Street, Pleasant Valley and the river in East Austin.

As part of its promotion of its new service, Uber Eats has eliminated its $3 delivery fee for a period. They’ve also introduced a new app solely dedicated to Uber Eats, so you no longer have to toggle.

Via 313 now offers catering

Via 313 serves thick, cheesy square slices of pizza they call Detroit-style.
Via 313 serves thick, cheesy square slices of pizza they call Detroit-style.

Not only does a new brick-and-mortar location of Via 313 near the University of Texas mean less driving for some folks looking to savor the deliciously addictive Detroit-style pies, it means no driving for some.

With their expansion, the restaurant from brothers Brandon and Zane Hunt now offers catering.  Via 313 serves off-site catering of pizza and family-style sides and salads to groups of up to 100 people. The pizza makers require a 48-hour notice for the large order, and a 15% additional charge overs delivery, paper plates, napkins, plastic silverware and gratuity. There is a $100 minimum order for catering.

Catering is available anywhere in Austin. Interested parties can contact Denise at catering@via313.com.


Events: Waller Creek Pop-up Picnic baskets on sale

The Waller Creek Conservancy annually holds a unique fundraiser that is one of the most charming of its kind. The Conservancy teams with restaurants across the city to create picnic baskets for a pop-up outdoor event to raise money for the non-profit that’s dedicated to the preservation, redevelopment and maintenance of Waller Creek.

This year’s Waller Creek Pop-up Picnic takes place April 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Palm Park and baskets include offerings from Café No Sé, Contigo, Easy Tiger, Elizabeth Street Cafe, Franklin Barbecue, Home Slice, Lucy’s Fried Chicken, Olamaie, Uchi and more. Baskets range in price from $20 to $175, with the most cherished usually selling out pretty quickly.

In addition to the baskets, this year the Conservancy selling Park Friends Forever package for $200 that includes valet parking, a picnic basket, koozies and other goodies.

For more details and to purchase a basket, visit WallerCreekPicnic.org.


Update: Former Longhorn Jordan Spieth serving Texas barbecue at The Masters, no brand specified

Former University of Texas golfer and PGA player, Jordan Spieth, jokes around with the crowd as he hits balls during a golf clinic for youth held for participants of the AJGA Championship held at the University of Texas Golf Club in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, July 5, 2015. Spieth won two of four majors in 2015, the Masters and U.S. Open. (Rodolfo Gonzalez/AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Former University of Texas golfer and PGA player, Jordan Spieth, jokes around with the crowd as he hits balls during a golf clinic for youth held for participants of the AJGA Championship held at the University of Texas Golf Club in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, July 5, 2015. Spieth won two of four majors in 2015, the Masters and U.S. Open. (Rodolfo Gonzalez/AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Update: It seems Ben Crenshaw may have gotten a little ahead of himself. He told folks on Monday that fellow Longhorn Jordan Spieth would be serving Salt Lick BBQ at Augusta National. Not so fast. Spieth clarified Tuesday that he had simply requested Texas barbecue, according to GolfChannel.com:

”I didn’t select Salt Lick. I don’t know where that was spread from,” Spieth said Tuesday. ”Augusta National always makes the meals. So they asked,’ What do you want to have for your meal?’ and I said I’d love to do some Texas barbecue. So they kind of go out and search for a way to make it based on popular places. I’m not sure what it’s exactly going to be. It’s going to be Texas barbecue. I’m pretty excited for it.”

March 22: The Masters at Augusta National has many traditions. Traditions, some would say, unlike any other. One of those cool traditions dating back more than 60 years is the Champions Dinner, where the winner from the previous year hosts a dinner at the august club that is attended by former champions. And to the victor goes the ordering rights. The selections are always an interesting insight into (what are often fairly boring) players’ lives. Goofy Bubba Watson served Caesar salad, grilled chicken and macaroni and cheese in 2013 (likely with a side of warm milk), leading the acerbic Nick Faldo to drop this brilliant tweet on him, while the gutsy and personable Phil Mickelson has served lobster ravioli (2005) and paella (2011).

The dinner was started by Dallas-area native Ben Hogan, and this year the tradition continues with Dallas native and University of Texas alumnus Jordan Spieth. According to the Statesman’s Suzanne Halliburton on Twitter, the #1 golfer in the world will serve Salt Lick barbecue. This news came via Ben Crenshaw during the World Golf Championship – Dell Match Play selection party at the Paramount Theatre last night.

Given Spieth’s tenure in Austin, the pick makes sense (although Franklin Barbecue might make tastier sense). In a culinary sense, I’d rank the choice above Tiger Woods’ 1998 menu of cheeseburgers and milkshakes but below 2000 winner Vijay Singh’s selection of seafood tom kha, chicken panang curry, baked sea scallops with garlic sauce, rack of lamb with yellow kari sauce, baked filet Chilean sea bass with three flavor chili sauce and lychee sorbet.


Events: Olamaie to host Masters viewing party


Olamaie is located at 1610 San Antonio St.
Olamaie is located at 1610 San Antonio St.

In my 2014 review of Olamaie, I said the refined Southern restaurant looks like it could be plucked from the grounds of Augusta National. Fitting then that the restaurant from chefs Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas would host a viewing party of the final round of The Masters on Sunday, April 10.

The genteel tournament is famous for its Southern food (and the ridiculously low prices), such as pimento cheese sandwiches and egg salad sandwiches. The Olamaie chefs, named Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine magazine last year, will serve a menu that nods to those traditions, in addition to the restaurant’s famous biscuits and more.

The party runs from noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday, with tickets costing $25. That ticket will get you snacks and one free cocktail, like a mint julep or punch, and the chance to see if University of Texas alumnus Jordan Spieth can repeat as Masters champion. The restaurant will offer a cash bar and have TVs set up on the porch and inside the restaurant. A portion of each ticket will benefit the Butler Park Pitch & Putt Golf Association, a family-owned nine-hole golf course near Lady Bird Lake.

Tickets are available here.


2015 Austin360 Dining Guide: #1 Olamaie

Golf Digest 2014: I ate and graded every food item in the Masters concessions stand

Buzzfeed 2014: How To Eat Every Item On The Masters Concession Menu In One Day Without Dying


Dish of the week: Fried quail with egg salad

(Credit: Adrienne Dever)
(Credit: Adrienne Dever)

This restaurant has experimented endlessly with quail throughout its 28 months of existence. The dish has appeared on the menu in several iterations. I’ve had a cowboy comfort food version of the bird with buttermilk biscuits and pinto beans, a ancho-mustard glazed version, and a recent brunch incarnation was pancake-battered, fried and served with maple and hot sauce in egg foam.

The most recent version, currently available at dinner for ($18) includes a creamy egg salad and a savory Japanese-inspired soy caramel, made on one visit with fish and lamb bones and on another with smoked chicken feet. The whole bird is dredged with pumpkin and sesame seeds and fried to a clean, crunchy finish in sunflower seed oil, with pickled jalapeno slapping some puckered tang on the dish.

MyStatesman.com readers click here to find out where to get this whole fried quail.