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Iconic Austin diner reboots with acclaimed chef and swanky new look

Iconic Austin diner reboots with acclaimed chef and swanky new look

Kerbey Queso dessert
Kerbey Queso was the inspiration for a clever new dessert. Photo courtesy of Kerbey Lane Cafe

Whoever said that an old dog can’t learn new tricks obviously hasn’t been to Kerbey Lane Cafe. After more than 25 years, the beloved local chain is majorly shaking things up with a new executive chef and an updated look.

On May 7, the Austin institution announced that it had brought on Joe Anguiano to lead the culinary operations at all locations. It was a bold move for Kerbey. Anguiano is most known for upscale New American cuisine, most recently helming the shuttered Vox Table.

On May 24, customers got a taste of his first menu for the chain. Although Anguiano’s creativity and commitment to quality sourcing can clearly be seen throughout, Kerbey fans need not worry that he fixed what didn’t need fixing.

The menu features comfort food classics kicked up with international flavors. Eggs Benedict is given a twist with bacon and fried green tomatoes or grilled Akaushi steak and chipotle sauce. The ahogada sandwich uses asadero cheese and tomato lime sauce. And a salmon burger introduces Japanese flavors with a wasabi mayo and a side of miso-glazed cauliflower.

But perhaps the sleeper dish of the bunch plays off one of Kerbey’s most popular dishes: queso. Working in partnership with Amy’s Ice Creams, Anguiano has reinterpreted the famous dip with Mexican vanilla ice cream, a scoop of mint chip meant to mimic guacamole, a strawberry and kiwi pico de gallo, and shortbread “chips.”

“Growing up in Austin I know firsthand how treasured Amy’s Ice Cream is, and we’re honored to partner with them on these fun new desserts,” said Kerbey Lane Cafe CEO Mason Ayer in a release.

In addition to the new menu items, some Kerbey locations are getting a new look. The company has brought on Kris Swift of Future Design Now, the force behind the eclectic designs at Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile and Grizzelda’s.

His work will be featured in two upcoming Kerbey Lane locations, one opening in 2019 at 1806 W. Braker Ln. and another opening by the end of 2018 in Mueller’s bustling Aldrich Street district. Swift will also be giving the store at 13435 Hwy 183 and the original location at 3704 Kerbey Ln. new life.

A rep from Kerbey Lane tells CultureMap that the design elements at each will include warm woods, plenty of natural light, greenery, and pops of color.

Diners can get a preview of the new direction on June 21 at the 183 location, which will be closed June 11-20 for the facelift.