Virginia B. Wood has quite simply gotta lotta news in this week's "Food-o-File."
It used to be that restaurants never debuted in the summers here, but things have certainly changed. Amid a flurry of floridly worded press releases and frequent droppings of the name Emeril, Demi Epicurious (311 W. Sixth, 478-2200, www.demiepicurious.com) opened for lunch and dinner in mid-June. The new restaurant from former P.F. Chang's partner Don Rhode and chef Robert Barker promises an open kitchen that will deliver "demi" tasting portions or epicurean servings, depending on your appetite. It should be interesting to see what they're all about... Seemingly unconcerned about any residual bad mojo attached to the new name they had chosen, owners of Girasole took only about a week to reinvent the restaurant as the Coyote Grill & Tequila Bar (219 W. Fourth, 481-0219). We stopped in to sample several items from chef Daniel Nemec's new Southwestern-flavored menu, and were delighted with paella enhanced with chile arbol and a toothsome grilled pork chop. The only misstep we encountered was a truly bizarre peach cobbler with nopales -- way too weird. However, with the friendly bar and a more affordable menu, this new local Coyote appears headed in the right direction... Speaking of reinvention, a longtime downtown business has a whole new focus on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Hot Jumbo Bagel (307 W. Fifth, 477-1137) hosts the Tea Room with Russian and Mediterranean food, music, and dancing in a family atmosphere three nights a week. This sounds fascinating, and we're sending our resident Russia expert, Rachel Feit, to check it out and report back... Two popular local restaurants staged anniversary parties for friends, family, and customers recently. The Ortiz family of Nuevo Leon (1501 E. Sixth, 479-0091) celebrated 20 years of business in their near East Austin neighborhood on June 29. Restaurateur Stan Adams and company partied hearty at Gilligan's (407 Colorado, 474-7474) earlier in June, celebrating 10 years of adding a distinctive Caribbean spice to the Warehouse District. Our congratulations to them both... If the approach of Bastille Day has you in the mood for liberté, fraternité, and pâté, join the fete at Aquarelle (606 Rio Grande, 479-8117) at 7pm on Sunday, July 14, for a five-course French meal paired with the exceptional and very American wines of Robert Mondavi. Reservations are strongly suggested... There's yet another wine dinner option on Monday, July 15, at Emilia's (600 E. Third, 469-9722). Todd Mathis, chef and co-owner of the Cellar (3520-A Bee Caves Rd., 328-6464) will make an appearance as guest chef and create a four-course menu paired with hard-to-find wines. The price is $75 and reservations are necessary... Aficionados of both jazz and beefsteaks will want to be on hand at Ruth's Chris Steak House (107 W. Sixth, 477-7884) on Friday evenings from 6-10pm this summer to appreciate the sounds of professor Jeff Helmer and various members of the mega-talented UT Summer Jazz ensemble.