Crab Rangoon Pizza, Justine's Justin Returns, Lutie's at the Commodore Perry Estate, Rosen's Goes Brick-and-Mortar, and More

All the news that's fit to get your taste buds quivering

Here’s some of what’s happening in Austin’s culinary scene in the first week of April, as wrangled from numerous PR releases, official posts, words on the digital street, and even the occasional (verified) IRL eavesdroppings …

Just some of what awaits you in Lutie's at the Commodore Perry Estate (Photo by Courtesy of the Auberge Resorts Collection)

First, let’s make sure you know that Tso’s Chinese Delivery and those pizza virtuosi at Via 313 have joined forces, briefly, to offer a crab rangoon pizza to benefit the Austin Asian Community Health Initiative, from now through May 2. And that Via 313 is currently building out another new outpost – in Round Rock. Tell you what: Those Detroit-style Hunt Bros – and Jack Gilmore, with his Kitchen and his Salt Traders, tangentially; as well as Woinee Mariam’s Taste of Ethiopia – are making it easy to seldom go farther south than Pflugerville, nomswise …

But Austin, right? How can anyone ever leave Austin – or not drive in to visit, if you live beyond its charms – when there’s such places as, for instance, Justine’s Brasserie? Especially when Justine’s former sous chef Justin Huffman is returning from stints at Contigo and out there in the urban wild of California to be, now, the executive chef at Justine’s? Yes, we’re told the man looks forward to expanding the Eastside gem’s seafood offerings and raw bar and creating seasonal menus that incorporate dishes from southern France’s Mediterranean Coast. “I prefer simple food in the style of Alice Waters and Chez Panisse,” says Huffman, a self-described local produce enthusiast who generally eschews heavy sauces in favor of bright, clean flavors. “You don’t need to do much to food if the ingredients are good. Fresh ingredients stand out by themselves.” And this news, too, is outstanding.

Speaking of chefs returning from Michelin-starred California … chef Bradley Nicholson and pastry chef Susana Querejazu are back in Austin and running what we reckon will be one of the city’s finest kitchens: Lutie’s Garden Restaurant at the Commodore Perry Estate. Listen: “Named after the estate matriarch Nannie Lewette “Lutie” Perry, the namesake restaurant melds warm hospitality with the convivial spirit of the property’s Jazz Age legacy, transporting guests to a contemporary garden retreat overlooking lush estate grounds.” And, hey, this culinary destination with its seasonally changing menus, with that gorgeous interior by Ken Fulk, it’s just up the block from the Chronicle offices, isn’t it? *makes note* Of course, you may better grok that it’s right across the street from H-E-B Hancock Center, but we’ll see you there anyway, right? Note: The elegant place will be open for reservations, Wed.-Sun., after April 14.

Oh! Local bagel fave Rosen’s Bagels is set to open their first brick-and-mortar store, over near the Domain and the new Q2 Stadium. Ah, we love those doughy toruses when they’re fRosen, we love ‘em when they’re fresh, and so we’re stoked to know that the new joint will 1) have an expanded menu, 2) be serving up the caffeinated brews via Tiny House Coffee Roasters, and 3) eventually be ready to deliver their tasty, kosheriffic goods your way, too.

Hey, you like free food? And do you follow The Kebab Shop on Instagram? Maybe you should consider it, because on April 10 the Eastside location (1011 E. Fifth #160) of that national Mediterranean-style chain’s giving out free gyro wraps and more to its followers. Join their fancrowd, order online, use the code TKSATX, and quicker’n you can say “kebab’s your uncle” you’ll be treating yourself to something poli kala.

Have you heard about Desert Door Sotol’s Explorer series? That’s the Hill Country distillery’s monthly, unique barrel release with different collaborators that’ll be available in their Driftwood tasting room throughout 2021. For April, it’s a limited-edition Dark Skies barrel-aged sotol that’s been infused with Vista Brewing’s Black Pilsner, and you can purchase it at the distillery from April 8 until supplies run out. But you probably want to get it that first day, friend, because the release date also features a dinner collaboration with the Eden West Foodtruck – a three-course meal with drink pairings, and – yeah, see the website and get those tickets while you can.

And, speaking of spirits, the Texas Whiskey Festival wrapped its 2021 judging edition last week, and of course those Garrison Brothers and the Treaty Oak crew took top honors (along with Rebecca Creek, Ranger Creek, and Balcones Distilling), but we also happily note Blanco’s Milam and Greene among the winners with their Triple Cask Straight Bourbon. We did say judging edition of the Texas Whiskey Festival, mind, because the fourth annual celebration of Lone Star spirits itself is taking place next week, April 16-17, at Star Hill Ranch – and you can get tickets to attend and taste 'em all and form your own boozy opinions. After all, as TWF’s own Jake Clements reminds us: “The best whiskey is the one you like.”

And, speaking of whiskeys that you like … FFS, don't miss those giant all-terrain vehicles, the Monsters of Smoke, currently bringing Ardbeg Single Malt to four local outposts of spirited excellence ...

Now y’all be safe out there, eat as well and tip as big as you can, and watch out for those ’ronas …

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