Events, closings, and condolences: Virginia B. Wood reports

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

The invitations have gone out for the seventh annual Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? fundraising dinners that benefit Project Transitions, the local AIDS hospice. There is a bumper crop of hosts this year, which means there is room for more than 300 guests to attend dinner parties with entertaining themes and tantalizing menus in private homes around the city on Saturday, Feb. 7. At the end of the evening, all the guests will gather at the Design Center for a champagne and dessert reception. This truly is one of the most fun charity evenings all year long. Tickets are only $75 per person. Choose a dinner and make your reservations today by calling the Project Transitions office at 454-8646, and then guess who'll be at dinner along with you!


First up, in the off-with-my-head department, in a recent rave review of Evangeline Cafe (8106 Brodie, 282-2586), I mistakenly stated that it is open every day. Owner Curtis Clarke works 15 hours a day, six days a week, and requests that you come out to dine with him any day but Sunday, when he takes a hard-earned and much-deserved rest... A couple of weeks ago, we ran a story about local chef Lou Lambert and the great deal he'd been offered to develop restaurants for the Crestline Hotel group. Here's the rest of the story: When Crestline made Lambert an offer he couldn't refuse, he realized that it was time to sell his popular SoCo restaurant, Lambert's American Kitchen (1716 S. Congress), and he found eager buyers in a very short time. Lambert's closed on Jan. 10, and Lou will be based in San Antonio temporarily while working on a project there. New owners Sam Dickey and Will Packwood are slated to debut their new global seafood restaurant, Seven, in the South Congress space in late February, featuring wild-caught seafood from the seven seas. An expansion of the restaurant into next-door gallery space is already planned for this summer. And Italian food fans should not despair: Dickey and Packwood still plan to open Osteria Amerigo when the scheduled development at Burnet Road and 49th Street is completed later this year. They are working with architect Aubrey Carter on both projects... It's no secret that 2003 was a tough year for area restaurants. Recently, we've seen the closing of the highly regarded locally owned Ray's Steakhouse, as well as the demise of the cook-it-yourself chain outfit UR Cooks. I guess that just goes to show that the Atkins diet can't save everyone. We've also seen some area Asian restaurants change ownership in the past few weeks. Yupa Rushing is the proud new owner of Thai Tara (601 W. Sixth, 236-0856) and is eager for folks to try the special items that she's running on her menu. In Round Rock, the former Tanushi Japanese restaurant and sushi bar was recently purchased by Sammi Kong and has been reopened as Blue Fin Sushi & Robata Bar (661 Louis Henna Blvd. #300, Round Rock, 512/716-1688).

In Memoriam

If you chanced to dine at the cozy Hill Country eatery the Emerald Restaurant (13614 Hwy. 71 W., 264-2137) anytime in the past 20 years, you were treated to the warm hospitality and lilting Irish brogues of the Kinsella family. We're sad to report that family matriarch Marge Kinsella lost her long, valiant battle with cancer last week. The family is busy making arrangements to bury her at home in County Mayo, Ireland, sometime soon, but three generations of the Kinsella family will continue to operate the Emerald. Also, local restaurateur Hoover Alexander buried his father, Hoover Alexander Sr., on Jan. 10. Though a native of Pilot Knob in the Austin area, the elder Alexander had made his home in Los Angeles for many years. We extend our sincere condolences to both families.

News Flash!

The Epicurious television segment featuring the Central Texas barbecue trail debuts this Tuesday, Jan. 27, at 8am and noon on the Travel Channel (Time Warner cable Channel 33).

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