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Food-O-File

Local restaurant news never stops

By Virginia B. Wood, Fri., March 8, 2013

Local restaurant news isn't taking a break just because we're faced with the SXSW juggernaut. Restaurateur Rachel Davila served the final dinner at her beloved Nuevo Leon last Saturday night, and the East Austin Tex-Mex mainstay is gone. Davila said the local investment group that bought the property did not share their development plans with her. It'll be interesting to see what becomes of that good-sized chunk of property in a fast-changing neighborhood. My intuition says it won't be a 300-seat restaurant.

Another large and storied restaurant has safely dodged a bullet, thanks to brothers Austin and Ellis Winstanley, new majority owners of Hill's Cafe (4700 S. Congress). Longtime Hill's owner and local radio personality Bob Cole put out a distress signal about the restaurant's financial woes in January ("Food-o-File," Jan. 18) and the Winstanleys came to the rescue. The local entrepreneurs are stewards of several homegrown restaurant brands: Star Seeds Cafe, Cain & Abel's, Abel's at the Lake, the Tavern, El Arroyo, and soon-to-come Abel's (former Artz owner Art Blondin at the pit) Rib House. We hear their plans for Hill's call for a larger staff plus investment in the aging infrastructure, so as to increase the hours of operation and host and cater more special events. We'll keep you posted.

Devoted locavore chef Sonya Coté is busy developing a new project which will bring an outdoor restaurant to the grounds of Springdale Farm (755 Springdale Rd.) later this spring. The cooking facility for the new eatery (working title: Eden East) is a fully-equipped 38-foot kitchen trailer with a glass front that was moved to the farm this week. Plans call for some indoor seating in the small farmhouse near the front of the property, and outdoor seating under the large trees. Designer and longtime Coté collaborator Mickie Spencer will be setting the scene, and Coté expects to be serving prix fixe, multicourse dinners on weekends and cooking for special events, starting in April. It should be fascinating to see this unique eatery evolve.

Salt & Time Butcher Shop and Salumeria is up and running at 1912 E. Seventh, offering fresh, local meats and poultry, cured meats prepared by the butchers, charcuterie boards, and prepared foods such as specialty sandwiches (muffuletta!) on Baked in Austin breads. They also stock beers, wines, and sodas to pair with their foods, and will soon be serving Cuvee Cof­fee as well – currently open Tue.-Sat., 7am-7pm... After a stint at Hyatt Lost Pines Resort, local chef and artisan charcutier Lawrence Kocurek is back in Austin as the new chef de cuisine at Trace at the W Hotel. He joins Executive Chef Nadine Thomas, forager Valerie Broussard, and new James Beard finalist, Pastry Chef Janina O'Leary... Cake designer Paloma Efron has relocated her Coco Paloma custom bakeshop to a larger new space at 8711 Burnet, to accommodate growth; by appointment only at 419-1582... I'll be speaking on a panel at the TECHmunch Conference at Whole Foods Market this Sunday; tickets are still available at www.tmaustin13.eventbrite.com... Be sure to keep an eye on our On the Range blog for food-related events over the next two weeks.

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