Food-o-File

The posh, new mulberry opens in the 360 Condos while other Austin favorites get face-lifts

There's everything from restaurant openings to pastry chef weddings in the news as another summer races to a close. Austin's newest restaurant/wine bar is the chic new mulberry (360 Nueces, 320-0297) in the 360 Condominium tower. The concept is from Michael Polombo and Lawrence Bondulich, a couple of New Yorkers with local ties, the design is by locals Michael Hsu and Kristen Heaney, and Austinite Zach Northcutt is executive chef. mulberry (this e.e. cummings thing is the newest affectation in restaurant name styling) is open for lunch weekdays from 11am to 5pm, dinner daily from 5pm to 12mid, and weekend brunch from 11am to 3pm... In the campus area, the Drungo Ice House (2828 Rio Grande, 478-6666, www.drungoicehouse.com) is the new spot from Lovejoy's co-owner Chip Tait. He's got a selection of 50-plus beers in bottles and on tap and a pub-grub menu that includes brick-oven pizzas and Maryland crab cakes. Just across the street, second generation Texas French Bread owners Murph and Ben Willcott are now offering dinner in this location only (2900 Rio Grande, 499-0035) on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. The menu changes weekly and is largely based on local products Ben is sourcing from area farmers, ranchers, and artisan food producers, complemented by TFB's line of fine breads and desserts. Reservations are suggested, and they'll be glad to add your name to the weekly menu e-mail list... The hottest new shopping opportunities in SoCo aren't at some trendy boutique; they're at the brand new Ace Mart Restaurant Supply outlet (2415 S. Congress, 482-8700) that relocated south after the real estate under the extremely convenient Downtown location became entirely too pricey... Two popular central city eateries are closing temporarily for some fascinating renovations. Ranch 616 (616 Nueces, 479-7616) celebrates its 10th anniversary with a face-lift that includes the addition of a fabulous new Cactus Patio complete with a music stage, a fire pit, an indoor-outdoor bar, a VIP booth for 12, an outdoor glass brick bathroom pod, iron gates and sculptures by Will Larson (last seen in these pages washing dishes in his bathtub, "¡Sí Se Puede!" Aug. 15), and original art by Bob "Daddy-O" Wade. The restaurant will be closed from Sept. 2 to 12 for construction. Farther uptown, Vin Bistro (1601 W. 38th, 377-5252, www.vinbistro.com) is closed for renovations and is scheduled to reopen as Vin Midtown Restaurant & Lounge on Sept. 22. We're told the kitchen here will be completely redone and that much of the "re-imaging" will focus on the outdoor patio where they are creating a Mediterranean atmosphere with ceiling fans and a state-of-the-art cooling system under the raised ceiling, terrazzo flooring, accent lighting, and comfortable lounge furniture. Midtown is being added to the name to differentiate this location from the same company's newest venture, Vin on 5th, scheduled to open later this year... Local pastry chefs Philip Speer of Uchi and Callie Whigham of parkside were married on Aug. 17 in Austin. The question that comes to my mind in this situation: Who made the wedding cake? In other pastry news, we're told two former Austin pastry chefs are now working together in the Windy City. Former Driskill pastry chef Jimmy McMillan is now executive pastry chef at Chicago's swanky Peninsula Hotel, with the talented Amanda Rockman (formerly of Asti) as his assistant.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

mulberry, Texas French Bread, Drungo Ice House, Ace Mart Restaurant Supply, Ranch 616, Vin Bistro, Philip Speer, Callie Whigham, Jimmy McMillan, Amanda Rockman

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