Dishing out the food news one dollop at a time

News About Town

We're finding new restaurants, even in the dog days of summer! If you were a fan of DemiEpicurious, as I was, perhaps you've wondered what happened to talented young sous chef Justin Sells when Demi folded? We'd heard he was at Uchi, and it turns out he was there long enough to become friends with L.A. transplant Braden Frame and for the two new friends to come up with a plan of their own. Investment money was located, and TinTinNio (9070 Research, 275-1206) emerged with Sells as executive chef and Frame as GM. The new spot offers what they describe as "casual, contemporary Italian cuisine" in a tastefully reimagined space that formerly housed a Lone Star Cafe and something called Iron Chef. We stumbled across TinTinNio quite by accident last week and were delighted with every aspect of our dinner. Be sure to try the semolina-dusted artichoke hearts with spicy marinara, the divine Saffron Risotto with petite veal osso buco, and an order of the Che Crollare for dessert... 34th Street Cafe owner Eddie Bernal debuted his new Santa Rita Tex-Mex Cantina (1206 W. 38th, 419-7482) in the 26 Doors Shopping Center last week, and the buzz is all good. Bernal has transformed the run-down Tres Amigos space with a bright and eclectic new decor, two sunny patios, and a festive bar. The menu is Tex-Mex with a rotisserie twist, offering several items with either grilled chicken or pork loin, plenty of Gulf seafood, and a variety of light and inviting salads. Open seven days a week with daily happy hours, Santa Rita looks to become the hot new midtown happy-hour spot for Bernal's West Austin society clientele... Local fans of the popular historic Pflugerville music venue Hanover's (108 E. Main St., 670-9617) will be pleased to hear that longtime Austin cook Al Breitenbach (Liberty Lunch, Quality Seafood) has reopened the Hanover's Smokehouse, which was originally established in 1903. During the week, Al's serving a limited barbecue menu with chopped beef and sausage. On weekends, the menu expands to include brisket, pork roast, baby back ribs, and smoked chicken, plus some of Al's better-known seafood specialties, such as blackened redfish and shrimp. Wouldn't it be a hoot if Al's good cooking put Pflugerville on the Central Texas barbecue trail!

Event Menu: July 29

Thursday, July 29, 5-8pm: Cold Stone Creamery outlets (2828 Guadalupe, 472-0707; 661 Louis Henna, 238-8181) will celebrate National Ice Cream Month and their commitment to the Make-a-Wish Foundation with an ice cream social. From 5 to 8pm, the stores will be serving free slices of special cakes designed by two Make-a-Wish kids fighting cystic fibrosis. The cakes are made with devil's food cake, sweet-cream ice cream, Oreo cookie crumbs, chocolate shavings, and chocolate ganache frosting. Guests are encouraged to make at least a $1 donation for each slice of cake, and all Cold Stone stores nationwide will be donating a portion of their proceeds for the entire month of July to the foundation. (FYI: We celebrated our 1,000th issue last week with Cold Stone ice cream cakes, and they are delicious.) What a great excuse to eat ice cream!

Thursday, July 29, 6:30-9:30pm: Culinary Flavors of Austin Celebration of Cinema & Cuisine to benefit cystic fibrosis research, at the Design Center of Austin (3601 S. Congress). This annual soirée features fine dining, music, live and silent auctions, plus celebrity impersonators in a captivating setting. Restaurants scheduled to participate at press time are Cool River Cafe, Bellagio, Gumbo's/Brown Bar, Jeffrey's, La Traviata, Lucy's Cakes, Maudie's Cafe, Ranch 616, Siena, and the Y Bar Grill. Individual tickets are $50, and tables are available for corporate sponsorship. Call 338-1744 for reservations.

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