by Virginia B. Wood

If you're still looking for the perfect fine dining menu to ring in the New Year, some of Austin's best restaurants are eager to help. The Sfuzzi folks are excited about their New Year's deal: a twilight seating with the option of an a la carte or three-course $32.50 prix fixe menu and a later Gala Seating which offers a prix fixe menu, dancing to deejay entertainment, a champagne toast, and party favors for $50 per person. The menu choices look divine, call 476-8100 for more information. At Jean-Luc's French Bistro the year-end extravaganza includes a four-course prix fixe menu complete with Oysters on the Half Shell, an Omelette Norvegienne (Baked Alaska) and a champagne toast. Reserve a table between 6-10pm by calling 494-0033. Another option for a festive evening is at Zoot. They're offering two menus -- an "early-bird," three-course meal between 5pm and 6:30pm for those who have full evenings planned, and a four-course dinner beginning after 6:30pm, featuring such enticing selections as Lobster Ravioli with Osetra Caviar and Roasted Leg of Lamb with Rosemary and Dried Cherry Jus. Make reservations at 477-6535. Jeffrey's chef David Garrido says they'll offer twilight seatings beginning at 5:30pm and that his menu will feature the most delicious and extravagant ingredients available to him. Call 477-5584 for the particulars. At the Cafe at the Four Seasons the seatings at 5pm and 5:30 will feature a four-course prix fixe menu for $75. The five-course dinner will be served beginning at 8pm for $125. Inquire about the package deal for dinner -- a room for the night and brunch on New Year's Day -- by calling 478-4500...

South Austin has a bumper crop of new dining and partying venues. The new Threadgill's World Headquarters at 301 W. Riverside is reportedly feeding thousands of Southern comfort food lovers every week. They also have the very best dining and listening deal going on Monday afternoons, 2-6pm. The restaurant's Monday Piano-rama features several of this town's top musicians in a group described by the proprietor himself as "Eddie Wilson's Fantasy Band -- the best players you're ever gonna hear for free in a smoke-free environment." Grab a gang for a late lunch or early happy hour and listen to the remarkable talents including Johnny Nicholas, Floyd Domino, Lucky Oceans, Riley Osborne, Bill Campbell and C.C. Pinkney. During the dinner hour, Champ Hood and the Threadgill's Troubadours present the Monday night edition of Sittin', Singin' & Supper. Down in far South Austin the newest neighborhood party venue is the Stardust Club where an enterprising group has taken over a space formerly known as the Country Music Showcase in the Manchaca Plaza (11940 Manchaca) to establish a cheerful neighborhood beer bar. Stardust Club owners Willie and Joan Castillo and Alton Holloway have turned the adjacent space into a 5,500-square-foot banquet/concert hall that is available for weddings, receptions, corporate functions, business meetings, parties, live entertainment, casino nights and karaoke parties. Willie Castillo is well-known among local caterers for his skill with ice sculptures marketed through Castillo Ice and the entrepreneurial family also operates a liquor catering company, We Have Spirits. "We provide a facility that is both affordable and flexible with professional assistance in the area of event planning," says Joan Castillo. "Catering, liquor, music, and decorations are available or people may bring their own." Book parties at the Stardust by calling 280-8590.

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