Virginia B. Wood explains what Por Tabla is all about and gives the lowdown on the latest culinary news in Austin.

Happy 25th Birthday

Sweetish Hill Bakery owners Jim and Belinda Murphy, Patricia Bauer-Slate, and Joseph Slate threw a party last night at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Texas' premier French bakery. The surprise ending to the evening was the announcement of Sweetish Hill's newest food venture, a retro-styled eat-in and takeout shop called Por Tabla (1200 W. Sixth), set to open in the space most recently occupied by the Coffee Exchange. The name Por Tabla accurately describes the restaurant's scenario: food "for the table" to be eaten in the restaurant as well as "portable" food to take out. The menu will include hearty hot breakfasts complemented by more American-style pastries such as biscuits, muffins, scones, and coffee cakes. There will be a new line of breads and rolls at all three meals, with focaccia squares and stuffed focaccia loaves at lunch and an extra-special hot dog on a fresh bakery bun. An eclectic menu of dinner entrees will change periodically, focusing on fresh, seasonal ingredients. Catering menus are designed to make home entertaining easier by offering appetizers in servings for eight, 12, 25, etc., and a retail area will feature food products created in Austin. Look for Por Tabla to debut in mid-to-late June.

Jammin' for Salmon

I usually leave the promotion of bands to Ken and Raoul, but the members of Mark's Bros. Band get a gold star for a marketing idea that's close to my heart. Mark's Bros. Band is throwing a CD release party this Friday, May 26, with an in-store performance from 5-6pm at Waterloo Records and a dance party from 8-10pm at Ego's Lounge. These guys have formed an organization called "Jammin' for Salmon/Musicians Against Famine" and are using the performances to raise donations for the Capital Area Food Bank. Food collection barrels and volunteers will be at both locations and each donation of canned goods or other nonperishable food items will earn a $1 credit toward the purchase of the band's new CD. For more information on the band, the shows, or to find out how your band can set up this kind of donation project, check out their Web site at

New Attitude

Look for expanded morning and evening hours plus a new vegetarian "comfort food" menu to complement the pastries and coffee drinks at the new Bouldin Creek Coffee House (1501 S. First, 416-1601). New owners Lisa Goodell and Leslie Martin recently bought out Phil Newton's High Times Tea Bar & Brain Gym and are working hard to make the funky corner space more user-friendly. Check it out.

Lucinda's Garden

Editors and photographers from The Herb Companion, Southern Living, and Kitchen Garden magazines have paid visits to the lovely gardens at the home of local herb expert and cookbook author Lucinda Hutson in recent weeks. Hutson will sign copies of The Herb Garden Cookbook (Gulf Press, $16.95, paper) and lead an ethnic culinary herb garden tour at the Natural Gardener (8648 Old Bee Caves Rd., 288-6113) at 10am this Saturday, May 27th.

The Best of Austin: Restaurants ballot is here! Nominations can be made now through Monday, July 18, at midnight. Vote now at

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