Mueller’s burgeoning Aldrich Street district said howdy to yet another restaurant this weekend with the unofficial opening of Colleen’s Kitchen. The restaurant, featuring modern takes on traditional Southern fare, comes from Ashley and Sean Fric, co-owners of J. Black’s Feel Good Kitchen & Lounge and popular South Austin cocktail bar Golden Goose.
The project is named after Ashley’s aunt, who provided much of the inspiration for the interior. Design Hound — a familiar name in Austin’s hospitality scene for their work on L’oca D’Oro, Peached Tortilla, Emmer & Rye, and Dai Due — collaborated on the design with the Frics, using photos of the beloved relative’s eclectic house as inspiration.
The resulting dining room is filled with old fashioned touches like ceiling medallions, octagonal penny tile, and an almost stodgy striped wallpaper. But those elements are used in a contemporary way, keeping the plentiful white, Kelly green, and brass palette from feeling too stark. Personal touches, like a wall of wedding portraits and various collections, give the eatery an intimate feel.
The restaurant also includes a sizable patio enclosed by picket fencing and canopied carnival lights. A to-go window, covered with a striped awning, offers picnic-style take-out and coffee. It’s sure to be popular with people who want to enjoy the development’s parks.
The menu is the work of Second Bar + Kitchen alum chef Brian Felicella. The fare strikes the same balance as the interior — approachable and family friendly but plated for an Instagram world. The Southern canon is well represented with deviled eggs, chicken pot pie, shrimp and grits, and sharable sides like succotash and mustard greens. We have our eye on buttermilk biscuits topped with fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, or country ham, and a redfish spread served with pickled leeks and garlic toast.
The desserts are kept simple with ice cream scoops from local favorite Lick, salted chocolate chip cookies, banana pudding (served in a mason jar, of course), and a cinnamon roll coffee cake. As with any self-respecting Southern comfort food restaurant, there’s also a daily selection of pies.
A full bar features drinks that are mostly based on local spirits (the Farmer’s Market Mule even throws in some fresh herbs sourced from the Mueller market for good measure.) There’s also plenty of bubbles. The house punch features Reyka vodka, apricot, lemon, simple syrup, and some Champagne fizz. And a trio of sparkling cocktails, using diverse flavors like cassis, strawberry, and grapefruit will no doubt facilitate countless future toasts.
Currently, the restaurant has limited hours while they gear up for the grand opening. CultureMap has reached out to the owners to confirm, but full service appears to be kicking off on Wednesday, January 17.