Virginia B. Wood discovers a new Japanese fast food joint in town; mentions upcoming Central Market Cooking School classes; and updates readers on recent happenings among restaurants and restaurant owners in the Hill Country.
Zen and the Art of Fast Food
A friend suggested I check out a new little spot called Zen-Japanese Food Fast (2900 W. Anderson Lane #250, 451-4811). Phoenix transplant Adam Weisberg's concept includes a simple menu of sushi, heart-healthy Japanese rice bowls topped with meats and/or veggies, and salads with house signature dressings. Prices are very affordable, the beers are Japanese, and decor is minimal. The regular Spicy Shrimp Bowl ($4.49) was a handful of plump shrimp flash-sauteed to order with onions and scallions in a sweet/spicy brown sauce, served over a good-sized bowl of rice. It made a very satisfying lunch. If the local prototype is a hit, Weisberg and his backers plan to open several more Austin outlets.
The Central Market Cooking School (4001 N. Lamar, 458-3068) has scheduled several mighty interesting women to present classes in December. California cookbook author/tour guide Nancy Zaslavsky appears Friday evening, December 3, to share recipes for holiday specialties from Oaxaca plus a tasting of tequilas and mezcals. On Saturday, December 4, Los Angeles author/pastry chef Sheila Linderman will teach several French holiday dessert recipes, and her class will be followed on Monday, December 6 by the appearance of New Orleans restaurateur Ann Kearney, chef/owner of Peristyle, who will prepare a menu of fresh-from-the-market winter specialties. On December 10, San Francisco food writer Peggy Knickerbocker puts together a delightful holiday feast from her family's recipes. Classes are from 6:30-9pm, and reservations are necessary.
Hill Country Happenings
Mike Raymer and Steve Howard of Fredericksburg's Navajo Grill (209 E. Main, 830/990-8289) threw a knock-out Thanksgiving bash at the Luckenbach Dance Hall last weekend complete with a five-course meal and dancing music from Don Walser & the Pure Texas Band... Robert and Patricia VanderLyn of Rose Hill Manor (2614 Upper Albert Rd. in Stonewall, 877/ROSEHIL, http://www.rose-hill.com) have added fine dining to the lovely inn's weekend amenities. The husband and wife chef/pastry chef team of Ernest and Anne Briggs of Ernie's Mediterranean Grill in Fredericksburg are designing the four-course prix fixe menus. Dinner on Friday and Saturday nights is by reservation only and is open to the public as well as guests at the inn... John Cain has left his post as chef at the Inn Above Onion Creek (4444 Hwy. 150 in Kyle, 800/579-7686, http://www.innaboveonioncreek.com) and proprietor Janie Orr is currently interviewing for his replacement... Fredericksburg Herb Farm (402 Whitney, 800/259-4372, http://www.fredericksburgherbfarm.com) owners Bill and Sylvia Varney have hired consulting chef Johndavid Bartlett to develop signature food products and expand the food service operation at their lovely in-house tea room... Becker Vineyards (Jenschke Lane off Hwy. 290 W. near Stonewall, 830/644-2681) introduces their new Port with a complimentary Port and Stilton tasting this weekend, December 4 and 5; hours are 10am-5pm on Saturday and noon-5pm Sunday.