Hill Country Dreams

The 'Chronicle' Food and Wine Update: Spring 2003

Brother's Bakery

519 Hwy. 281 N. in Marble Falls

830/798-8278

Monday-Thursday, 7am-5pm; Friday, 7am-6pm; Saturday, 8am-3pm

Lunch: Monday-Saturday, 11am-3pm
Perhaps the last thing folks might expect to find in this friendly new bakery/cafe in Marble Falls is a diploma from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, but it's right there on the wall, near the coffee service. Brother's Bakery proprietor Ryan LeCompte Malamud is a graduate of both the culinary and baking programs offered by the CIA. After graduation, the Georgetown native worked in restaurants and grocery-store bakeries in the Austin area for a few years before he finally found just the right location for his first independent venture. He chose this Highland Lakes resort community far from big-city traffic because there's no scratch bakery in town, making his concept unique in the area. He's been open less than a year and already locals and tourists alike have embraced his business. I was tipped off by a friend who'd enjoyed a great lunch at Brother's while in Marble Falls on business. The day I went to check it out for myself, the place was full of locals enjoying lunch and picking up their weekend bread and pastry orders.

Malamud describes himself as first and foremost a "bread guy," and the baker's rack by the front counter piled high with artisan breads is testament to his vocation. There's his favorite, the rustic loaf, a light country rye, a sourdough, a seeded sourdough rye, a kalamata-olive bread with rosemary, a challah, and a pain francais, among others. Breads come in whole loaves, sliced loaves, buns, and dinner rolls, and they're the foundation of Brother's small sandwich menu. Chicken and tuna salad are homemade, the quality of the sliced ham and turkey is top-notch, and it's possible to get a half or whole sandwich with soup or salad on the side. Malamud makes the soups fresh every day, and they're a hit with his customers. Brother's also offers Danishes, croissants, cinnamon rolls, muffins, cookies, and specialty cakes, plus a full line of coffee drinks, sodas, and homemade hot chocolate. At a time when the Hill Country landscape is blighted with anonymous chain outfits, it's a pleasure to see a classy little independent food business thriving like a hardy wildflower.

The Full Moon Inn
The Full Moon Inn (Photo By John Anderson)

The Full Moon Inn

The Full Moon Saloon & Grill

3234 Luckenbach Rd.

800/997-1124, 830/997-5458

Dinner: Tuesday-Friday, 4-10pm
www.fullmooninn.com, www.myownchef.com

Central Texas brides who desire a unique wedding venue need look no further than the Full Moon Inn nestled in the bend of Luckenbach Road, overlooking Grape Creek. The romantic getaway is located in the heart of the Texas wine country, convenient to such area attractions as Enchanted Rock and LBJ Ranch parks, the tubing mecca of the nearby Guadalupe River, antique shopping in area villages, and boot-scootin' at the venerable Luckenbach Dance Hall. The 12-acre property dates back to the 1860s and offers a selection of distinctively decorated cabins, cottages, and rooms in the main house, ranging in price from $125 to $200 per night. The property has a capacity to sleep 14 people and is available for weddings, receptions, family reunions, birthday parties, or corporate retreats. If overnight groups exceed 14, the management will gladly arrange for rooms at neighborhood B&Bs that are members of the Fredericksburg Traditional Group (www.fredericksburgtrad.com). The descendant of several generations of Gulf Coast shrimpers, innkeeper Matt Carinhas has operated the delightful hideaway for 11 years. Recently, he has enhanced the inn's attractions by leasing on-site restaurant space to former Austin chef Vickie Bonewitz.

After nearly 20 years of hard work in Austin hotel and restaurant kitchens, chef Vickie Bonewitz and her pastry-chef husband Darrel are living their Hill Country dream. Vickie leased space from Matt Carinhas, and the Full Moon Saloon & Grill was born. The grill serves dinner Tuesdays through Fridays from 4 to 10pm, with a casual country-roadhouse menu heavy on fresh Gulf shrimp and oysters supplied by the Carinhas family. Depending on the season, Vickie's menus may also feature organic greens and vegetables picked fresh from her own garden. The bar offers ice-cold beer, wines from area wineries, and setups for those who bring their own liquor. Tuesdays are karaoke nights (very popular with locals, we're told), and there's live entertainment on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. The restaurant is closed to the public on weekends in order to serve weekend parties at the inn. The catering division of Vickie's business is known as My Own Chef and she personally designs menus for any and all on-site or off-premise events. This jewel is worth a turn off the beaten path.

Cuvée Bistro, Market, & Wine Bar
Cuvée Bistro, Market, & Wine Bar (Photo By John Anderson)

Cuvée Bistro, Market, & Wine Bar

342 W. Main in Fredericksburg

830/990-1600

Bistro: Tuesday-Thursday, 4-11pm; Friday-Saturday, noon-midnight

Market: Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-6pm (Milam Street entrance)
www.cuveewine.net

For many years, the conventional wisdom about success in Fredericksburg dictated a location in the four or five blocks centralized on East Main Street "downtown." However, in the face of ever-escalating rents, some gutsy operators are moving outside those parameters. The Navajo Grill moves into a large house surrounded by ample parking on far East Main this summer, and three enterprising young couples have staked their claim on an "uptown" corner at West Main and Milam. Wine merchants Len and Stephanie White have joined forces with former Austin club owners Dan and Lisa Carney and Dallas chef couple Kimberly and Dean Brunner to create Cuvée Bistro, Market, & Wine Bar. The Whites handle the wine, the Carneys are in charge of business and marketing, while the Brunners rule the kitchen.

The partners found an 1860s vintage building that was formerly home to a mercantile store, a saloon, and countless antique shops. They've reimagined it as an inviting bistro, doing most of the interior work themselves. The historic two-story edifice has thick limestone walls, the original hardwood floors, and a handy cellar that doubles as a wine cellar and private dining room with a "chef's table" for personal attention. The main room exudes homey comfort with sofa groupings around low tables. There are also several cafe tables and chairs as well as a granite-topped bar with stools for customers eager for wine education. Self-styled "wine geek" Len White displays a boundless enthusiasm for the wine business. He offers a list of literally hundreds of wines by the glass, the bottle, and the case. He'll schedule a wine class upon request and tailor it to suit your tastes.

A few steps down from the bar, the open kitchen is equipped with shelving and reach-in refrigerators where daytime market patrons can purchase fine quality meats and cheeses, organic produce in season, as well as Kimberly Brunner's excellent artisan breads. Chef Dean Brunner's menu is designed to be wine-friendly and changes almost daily, offering appetizers, soups, salads, light entrées, and desserts in the $6.50 to $16.95 range. Cuvée is already a hit with Fredericksburg locals looking for a pleasant late-night place to unwind and the ownership team hopes to attract some food- and wine-loving tourists, as well.

Acme Dry Goods

109 W. Main in Llano

915/247-4457

Monday-Saturday, 9:30am-4:30pm
When Austinite Doris Ellis' eight kids were small, she and her husband bought a little piece of property on the Llano River and turned the cabin there into a rustic summer camp for the family. "There was no electricity, no running water," recalls son Leslie Ellis. "We'd go down to the river at night to bathe, and everyone had to bring back two plastic gallon jugs of water." The tradition continued after Mr. Ellis' untimely death, and the Ellis family never lost their love for the Llano area. That's why it's no surprise that now that Leslie Ellis has his own business in Llano, his Mom and siblings are willing to make the drive from Austin regularly to help out. The Saturday we visited, Leslie manned the deli, Doris greeted guests and ran the register, while one of her grown daughters cooked and washed dishes.

Leslie Ellis started out to run a gift shop in the historic turn-of-the-century mercantile building three years ago. The first addition was a coffee area with a couple of tables where it was possible to enjoy cappuccinos and espressos while shopping. Customers suggested they might like a little something sweet with their coffee, so Leslie enlisted Doris to make some of her delicious pastries and desserts. Before long, folks were requesting sandwiches, and the number of tables kept growing. Just after the first of this year, Leslie converted half of the store into a pleasant sit-down tea room with a full menu of hearty sandwiches, salads, daily soups, and blue-plate specials, filled out with homemade pies, cakes, cobblers, cookies, and Blue Bell Ice Cream.

The restaurant is a big hit with locals and travelers alike, filling up with folks from the courthouse across the street at lunchtime and attracting antique shoppers all day long. It's not trendy haute cuisine. Acme's food is simple, fresh, and flavorful, and it's all homemade -- from the sandwich bread to the Italian Cream Cake -- just what you'd expect from a family enterprise inspired by mom's excellent home cooking. The Ellis' will make you feel right at home and feed you like a member of the family. That's the best reason to stop in at Acme. end story

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