Wow – lots of chef and restaurant news this 11/11/11 week! After nearly 25 years in business together, Eastside Cafe owners Elaine Martin and Dorsey Barger have dissolved their partnership, and Martin is now the sole proprietor of the popular East Austin eatery. In addition to her duties as Executive Chef, Martin is taking over the planning and direction of Eastside's extensive organic herb and vegetable garden. Barger will focus her energies on the continued development of crops, egg production, and other projects at HausBar Farms, the organic urban farm she owns with partner Susan Hausmann. HausBar organic vegetables and eggs are now available through Farmhouse Delivery.
Rumors about the sale of Jeffrey's have been making the rounds for months, but this confirmation comes from the buyer of the 36-year-old West Austin fine-dining landmark. Chef Larry McGuire and his business partners in Lamberts, Perla's, and the upcoming Elizabeth Street Cafe are buying Jeffrey's from Jeff Weinberger and Ron and Peggy Weiss and will take control of the restaurant in March 2012. At that point, they plan to close the restaurant for a few months of refurbishing and reopen with McGuire himself on the range.
Earlier this week, Brian O'Neill revealed both a new name and new menu to go with the whimsical new decor at Bistrot Mirabelle (8127 Mesa). New chef Clinton Bertrand is creating dishes inspired by the Provençal region of Southern France – sounds intriguing.
The group that owns 24 Diner is currently in expansion mode with the Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden slated to open on East Sixth Street before the end of the year and a new causal French bistro planned for Burnet Road in the spring.
The owners of La Sombra Bar & Grill (4800 Burnet Rd.) have revised their hours to accommodate guests looking for a late-night neighborhood destination. The restaurant will be available for private party bookings on Mondays and during weekday lunch hours and will now offer happy hour Tuesday through Sunday, serve weekend brunch and Sunday supper, and stay open until midnight Thursday through Saturday, with late-night food and drink specials.
The team that owns the longtime Indian mainstay Taj Palace has created a new sibling restaurant. Taj Mahal Indian Cuisine (12407 MoPac N. Ste. 200-B) offers a daily lunch buffet with free soups and naan and an à la carte dinner menu complemented by beer and wine.
Austin chef/restaurateur Shawn Cirkiel announced last week that he's taking over the former El Arbol space in West Austin (3411 Glenview) with plans to create a family-friendly restaurant featuring the cuisine of Southern Italy. Look for Olive & June to open in spring 2012.
Kudos to June Rodil of Congress for being named one of the Best New Sommeliers of 2011 by Wine & Spirits magazine, and to hostess Hannah Mary Marshall, named Hostess of the Year when Congress was included in Esquire magazine's Best New Restaurants 2011. In other Congress news, pastry chef Plinio Sandalio has left to become pastry chef at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on the UT campus.
In the Off With My Head department, Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher's new restaurant, Lenoir (1807 S. First), is not located on Lamar; I regret last week's error.
Congratulations to chef couple Amy Osborn and Egil Valentin on the birth of their son, Lucas James Valentin-Osborn, born Oct. 17.
To commemorate Veterans Day, all three Austin Z'Tejas outlets (www.ztejas.com) are offering a Bud and a Burger for $11.11, and for each plate sold, $1 will be donated to the Veteran Tickets Foundation, providing active-duty military, veterans, and their families with free tickets to concerts, sporting events, and other activities. Also, all local Applebee's outlets will serve free meals to veterans and active-duty military on Nov. 11, and Abuelo's (2901 Capital of Texas Hwy. S.) is running a weekendlong Queso for Heroes fundraiser, donating $1 to the Wounded Warrior Project for every chile con queso appetizer sold. Eat up!
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