Food-O-File

Over the past several years, various incarnations of La Zona Rosa (612 W. Fourth, 472-9075) have come and gone. No matter what changes were made with each new regime, the funky downtown building seemed to maintain some integrity as a music venue even while its status as a reliable restaurant was perpetually in question. However, now that the Rosedale Group, which runs the Waterloo Ice Houses, the Iguana Grill, and the dining facilities at The Backyard, has taken over the restaurant and bar operation at LZR, there seems to be a serious commitment to a consistent food service presence in the newly refurbished building. According to food and beverage manager Dave Bair, the new Zona Rosa menu is a modified version of the Mexican food served at the Iguana Grill. If the Mexican buffet at a recent Gospel Sunday brunch ($11.95 per person) is any indication, LZR should be a perfectly respectable place to grab a meal before a show or any other night of the week. While the supremely talented Asylum Street Spankers rocked the crowd into a revival fervor with hymns and gospel standards, we dined on a variety of satisfying Tex-Mex dishes: migas with warm flour tortillas, home fries, chorizo and crisp bacon; tender carne guisado, cheesy chicken enchiladas verdes, Spanish rice, and black beans; plenty of fresh fruit and an array of muffins. Not the most elaborate brunch around, but everything is well-prepared and the entertainment is first rate. What more can you really ask of a music venue that serves food? Check to see who's filling in for the Spankers while they're on tour the next couple of weeks. They'll be back in the Amen corner on Nov 9.

That's tapas, not topless! Three young female entrepreneurs recently embarked on a new adventure in the restaurant business. Partners Shellie Graham, Stephanie Ware, and Michele Stogner are the owners of Rhythm House (624 W. 34th, 458-4411), Austin's first tapas bar. The women toured the different regions of Spain over the summer, sampling definitive tapas (small savory appetizers) of each area, gathering recipes and ideas for their new venture. They overhauled the former location of Señor O'Brien's and hired Dennis Paddie to run the kitchen and help develop a tapas menu to tantalize Texas taste buds. The new eatery is currently open for dinner from 4pm until midnight, with live acoustic music on some evenings and brunch on weekends from 10:30am until 2pm. Long-range plans include lunch service and the addition of a beer garden.

Though these days it's all the rage for cookbook authors to advocate the use of fresh, seasonal produce in the preparation of both home and restaurant meals, one of the earliest proponents of seasonal cooking was Austrian-born chef Perla Meyers. Her award-winning 1973 cookbook Perla Meyers' Seasonal Kitchen was a groundbreaking work. The Central Market Cooking School (4001 N. Lamar, 458-3068) welcomes Perla Meyers for classes on Monday and Tuesday evenings, Nov 3 & 4, 6:30-9pm, and a book signing Tuesday afternoon.

Dead Bread! At least three local bakeries are selling pan de muerto, the sweetened yeast bread for Dia de los Muertos celebrations: La Victoria Bakery (5245 Burnet, 458-1898), La Mexicana Bakery (1924 S. First, 443-6369), and the in-store bakery at Fiesta (E. 38th & I-35, 406-3900). Get yours for the Day of the Dead this Saturday.

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