Mario Batali has discovered Austin's Matt Lee, but not in a good way; Hoover's has a new breakfast; and the Alamo Drafthouse finds food on the tracks
It's the Trademark, Daddy!
Local gelato entrepreneur Matt Lee has been discovered by NYC restaurateur/Food Network celebrity chef Mario Batali, and that's not good. It seems that when Batali opened his NYC eatery Babbo, he also took out a trademark on the Italian word that is slang for "papa" or "daddy." This makes it illegal for anyone else to use the word "babbo" in business. Batali's attorneys have given Lee until May 31 to change the name of Babbo's Italian Gelato & Coffee (1206 W. 38th, 451-9555). Lee started the Help Babbo's Find a New Name contest last week and asks the public to come in and fill out a form suggesting a new name in return for a free small gelato or latte. "All we ask is that the new name be in keeping with our commitment to giving Austin a taste of Italian culture," Lee says. Once the name suggestions have been submitted, Lee has assembled a panel of judges including chefs David Garrido, Kevin Williamson, Emmett Fox, Will Packwood, Damian Mandola, and me to help him choose the winner, with the grand prize a year's worth of gelatos or lattes. Andiamo!
Chicken 'n' Cakes
Though Hoover's Cooking (2002 Manor Rd., 479-5006) has been open for weekend breakfast for several years, chef/owner Hoover Alexander recently implemented a new breakfast menu that is fast gaining in popularity. The new menu is available weekends from 8am until noon. In addition to standard American breakfast platters, it offers taco plates, six varieties of pancakes, a regional assortment of breakfast specialties (shrimp 'n' grits, biscuits and sausage and gravy, migas, etc.), plus four different styles of chicken dishes (fried, barbecued, chicken 'n' dumplings, honey barbecue wings) paired with your choice of pancakes. We've found the pancakes to be tender and fluffy, and the Carolina low-country standard shrimp 'n' grits to be just out of this world! An order of fried catfish smothered in shrimp étouffée over biscuits is next on our list to sample. One caution is that the kitchen is still getting accustomed to executing the new menu, and pancakes might take some extra time, but they'll be worth it when they get to the table. As always, Hoover's portions are very generous, so you probably won't need to eat again all day.
The thing we love most about Alamo Drafthouse proprietors Tim and Karrie League is how perfectly attuned they are to the Austin zeitgeist. For example, consider the Rolling Roadshow feature they've scheduled for this weekend and how it encompasses so many of the best things about Austin: great film, live music, wonderful food, talented people, the participation of a historic icon, and a ride through the Hill Country during wildflower season. On Saturday, May 8, join the fun with a ride on the historic Austin Steam Train that will include drinks and a Southern-inspired box supper prepared by Drafthouse chef Thomas Hanawa. After a scenic drive through the Hill Country, disembark in Burnet for an outdoor screening of Buster Keaton's classic silent Civil War film, The General, complete with a live soundtrack by the Guy Forsyth Quartet and the steam train's whistle. Then, there'll be more drinks and dessert on the train ride back. This is a very cool way to spend a Saturday evening. Tickets for the show are $45, and the train will leave the Cedar Park station promptly at 6:30pm. Seating is limited, and reservations are necessary. Go to www.drafthouse.com.