Food-o-File

The death of a range hits home, but new spots Bennu Coffee, Annie's Cafe & Bar, and Cafe Laguna help fill the void

The timing couldn't have been worse. I had half-bushels of fresh fruit from the new Light­sey Farms stall at the Austin Farmers' Mar­ket and was ready to cook plums for jelly and peel peaches to freeze for cobblers when three of the burners on my stove went out! The repairman said the pilot template on the stove needed replacing, but he assured me the old General Electric gas range was not worth the $250-plus in parts and labor the repair would cost. That range had been my stalwart companion for nearly 20 years, turning out tens of thousands of cookies, untold numbers of pies and cakes, beaucoup batches of candies and chocolates. It helped me support myself for years, burning through three electronic ignitions in the process and continuing to work even after the door handle fell off. It has certainly earned an honored retirement, but the cost of a new stove was not in my already tight summer budget. Luckily, my birthday is in a few weeks, and family and friends are coming to the rescue. My new best friend (with a self-cleaning oven!) should be installed before this goes to press, and then jelly and cobblers, here we come... My new favorite spot for coffee and appointments close to the house has to be Bennu Coffee (2001 E. MLK, 478-4700, www.bennucoffee.com). Proprietors Steve Wil­liams and Stephanie Hogue set up shop in a former antique warehouse/showroom about two months ago, and the surrounding Central East Austin neighborhood is really embracing the new spot. The coffee drinks are first-rate, the roomy interior is comfortably appointed, and the Wi-Fi access and air conditioning are free. In addition to a full complement of coffee and tea beverages, Bennu offers pastries and prepared foods from local companies and is open 24 hours a day. According to Williams, long-range plans call for developing a covered dining patio west of the building and converting a garage on the east end of the building into a performance space... Fans of the exemplary wine and food pairings created by Shelly and Mark Schmidt at their much lamented Cafe 909 will be pleased to hear that the talented sommelier/chef team is back in Austin in the dining room and on the range at the newly opened Annies Cafe & Bar (319 Congress, 472-1884, www.anniescafebar.com) – now serving breakfast, lunch, takeout, dinner, and drinks daily, with a new bar menu designed by consulting mixologist Bill Norris... Laguna Gloria (3809 W. 35th, 458-8191, www.amoa.org) has long been one of the crown jewels of the Austin arts scene. The museum on the grounds of the historic Driscoll estate now boasts its own eatery, Cafe Laguna, located in the recently restored gatehouse. The cafe menu of salads and sandwiches is provided by Eddie Bernal's 34th Street Catering operation and is available weekdays from 11am to 4pm... Former Chronicle Art Director Taylor Holland was in Austin on summer break from his teaching job in Paris last week. We had a conversation about how eating in that gastronomic paradise this past year has been a life-changing experience for him, and he raved about duck confit and potatoes fried in duck fat! Vive la France!

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Food-o-File, Lightsey Farms, Austin Farmers' Market, Bennu Coffee, Annie's Cafe & Bar, Laguna Gloria

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