7 runs aground, while Dot's Place rises from the ashes; plus, 'Sideways' at Spicewood and HerbFest

Closings, Changes, Resurrections

Chef-owners Sam Dickey and Will Packwood made the difficult decision to close their restaurant 7 (1716 S. Congress) on Oct. 1. "For some reason, our cash flow took a huge hit during the first week of Hurricane Katrina and just never bounced back," Dickey told me last week. "We considered looking for some more investment capital but finally decided to close it down." The choose-your-cooking style and international seafood-by-the-ounce concept at 7 was a tough sell for some Austin customers all along. No word yet on where either of the talented young chefs will be working next... Zin American Bistro has been renamed Vin Bistro (1 Jefferson Square, 377-5252) to differentiate itself from the local Zen Japanese Food Fast chain and to focus more attention on the wine pairings with chef Sean Fulford's cuisine... The rumors and online postings are true: The unsinkable Dot Hewitt is still cooking. Although Dot's Place (13805 Orchid Ln.) burned to the ground early this year, Austin's resourceful queen of comfort-food cooking soon located a commercial kitchen in the vicinity of her old place and got back to work. Hewitt and her crew cook weekday mornings and sell a reduced version of her soul-satisfying down-home menu out of a portable trailer parked near the site of her original restaurant. The delicious, affordable lunch is available from 11am to 2pm weekdays, and it's strictly takeout, although we've seen online postings that suggest the nearby park makes a pleasant place to enjoy your meal. Efforts to rebuild Dot's Place are ongoing, and we're told the plans should emerge from the city's permit process any day now. With that in mind, Hewitt and her supporters are throwing a fundraiser on Friday, Oct. 21, from 10am until who knows when. Drop by and spend some money to ensure that Dot's is completely resurrected.

Event Menu:: October 6-13

The Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow finally rolls into Spicewood Vineyards for an al fresco screening of the quirky wine lovers' movie Sideways Friday night. Guests will be whisked to the vineyard by a comfortable motor coach, which will depart from the Grape Vine Market (7938 Great Northern Blvd., 323-5900) parking lot at 6pm. The coach will arrive at Spicewood in time to enjoy wine and hors d'oeuvres as the sun sets over the vines. Drafthouse chef John Bullington's three-course menu paired with Spicewood wines will be served during the film. Cost of the evening is $69, including transportation, dinner, wine, and the movie. Check out the menu and make reservations online at; 6pm, Friday, Oct. 7.

Celebrate the fall HerbFest at the Sunset Valley Farmers Market (Toney Burger Center parking lot, 280-1976) this weekend. There will be family fun, plenty of information about growing and using herbs, fresh area produce, and distinctive prepared foods, as well as a special appearance and booksigning by Bill Varney, owner of Fredericksburg Herb Farm. The event is sponsored by the Austin Herb Society and benefits the Zilker Garden Center; 9:30am-1pm, Saturday, Oct. 8.

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7, Dot's Place, Dot Hewitt, Will Packwood, Sam Dickey, Vin Bistro, HerbFest

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