Food news about town

Former water conservation engineer Brenton Johnson started his farming career with a big garden that eventually took over the entire yard of his family home on Holly Street. He and wife Beth purchased a 20-acre piece of land behind Callahan's off Highway 183 South when their enterprise (and their family) outgrew the backyard, but they kept the name customers had come to trust. This year, 650 Austin families bought community-supported agriculture shares in Johnson's Backyard Garden (9515 Hergotz,, and increased demand has encouraged the 36-year-old entrepreneur to expand again. "I found a 40-acre piece of land on the Travis and Bastrop county line that had been a dairy farm years ago. Luckily, one of our CSA members was willing to put up the investment money to buy the property and make some improvements, including equipment and irrigation," John­son told me recently. River Road Farm is already certified organic, and Johnson broke ground at the new property within the past couple of weeks, which means there will be even more local, organic vegetables available for Austinites in the near future. The Johnsons will host an Outstanding in the Field farm luncheon prepared by Jesse Grif­fiths and Tamara Mayfield of Dai Due Supper Club on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 3pm at their Her­gotz Lane property. Tickets are $180 per person; make necessary reservations online at or call 831/247-1041... The Hat Creek Burger Co. trailer relocated to the West Campus area (2209 Rio Grande, and appropriately began serving last Friday, on National Cheeseburger Day. The new spot offers a few parking spaces for pick-up customers and a shaded dining area with picnic tables... Austin's growing raw foods community is all abuzz online about the opening of Beets Living Foods Cafe (1611 W. Fifth #165, 477-2338,, which offers raw foods as well as gluten-free and vegetarian options... Several Austin chefs are on the move this fall. Longtime Hill Country and Austin chef Matthew Shipman has moved up the road to take over the kitchen at the Range at the Barton House in historic Salado (101 N. Main St., 254/947-3828, Chef John Bates has left ASTI Trattoria (403 E. 43rd, 451-1218, to pursue his own projects, and Jason Donoho is now executive chef of both ASTI and Fino Restaurant & Patio Bar (2905 San Gabriel, 474-2905, Word of Mouth (910 S. First, 472-9500, owner Leslie Moore reports that chef Patrick Gannon has taken over as executive chef after Andrew Francisco left to join the team at Lamberts (401 W. Second, 494-1500, Hot on the heels of her success with four sold-out film feasts for Julie & Julia, chef Trish Eichel­ber­ger will be moving from the Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz to the new Highball bowling alley and karaoke lounge coming from the Drafthouse folks in October (1142 S. Lamar, We've seen a preview of her menu, and it features very creative interpretations of classic diner food with a definite Texas and local twist... Drop by the bar at Ruth's Chris Steak House (107 W. Sixth, 477-7884, on Wednesday evenings this fall to buy drinks during its weekly Celebrity Bartender promotion benefiting local charities.

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