Austin’s hotel restaurants aren’t the generic establishments of yesteryear. Today, many hotels offer chef-driven cuisine that represents the local food culture. In this vein, the new and handsome Hotel Van Zandt on Rainey Street unveiled its fourth-level restaurant on Tuesday.
An impressive talent lineup holds down the fort at Geraldine's. The team includes Executive Chef Frank Mnuk, formerly of Uchi; Pastry Chef Callie Speer of Swift’s Attic fame; and Chief of Bar Operations Jennifer Keyser, previously of Midnight Cowboy and Contigo. Together, they collaborate on what they call “contemporary Austin fare.”
Rebelling against the current small-plate trend, the kitchen fully intends on dishing up bold flavors and deeply satisfying plates. The menu is composed of refined versions of Southern favorites such as fermented chili hush puppies, barbecue short rib, and Texas heritage pork rack. Artful plating and unique ingredients like black garlic spread and gulf shrimp with XO sauce pique diners’ curiosity. Mnuk insists on making as many of the ingredients in house as possible, from pickling local vegetables to culturing butter. The bread program showcases baked goods such as seeded popovers, garlic knots, and buttermilk crackers.
For dessert, Geraldine's offers revamped Southern classics too. The lemon buttermilk pie is garnished with cornflake crunch, gingersnap soil, and a quenelle of almond ice cream. The biscuits and gravy features shortcake as the base and is dressed with dark chocolate and a spherical orange "yolk."
The hip atmosphere mixes with an old-timey vibe in a restaurant that’s decked out with arched concert ceilings, vintage fixtures, chandeliers, and plush armchairs. The space consists of several focal points. The extensive bar at the center divides the lounge from the dining area. It houses over 80 different American whiskeys, five Texas drafts, and a range of Austin-themed cocktails. For example, The Willie’s Cup, made from High West Double Rye whiskey, hemp seed milk, and muddled sage, is served in a steel cup wrapped with a red bandana, secured with a roach clip.
The raised dining area has a good view of both the Austin skyline and the brightly lit open kitchen. Booth seating faces the sound stage that hosts local music acts. While the pool is for hotel guests only, diners can access a poolside patio and bar.
Geraldine’s currently serves breakfast and dinner service, with Sunday brunch starting soon.