5 things to know in Austin food right now: New all-day cafe blooms downtown
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New details emerged last week regarding Verbena, the forthcoming restaurant and bar concept from Juniper chef Nic Yanes and local investor Rick Singleton. Located in the Canopy by Hilton Hotel on West Sixth Street, the all-day eatery will reportedly offer a “vegetable-forward approach” to French- and Mediterranean- influenced cuisine as well as a beverage program developed with cocktail company Proprietors LLC. According to a press release, Yanes is aiming for a July opening, at which point Verbena will offer grab-and-go breakfast options from its espresso counter as well as “modified” lunch and dinner menus.
Vic and Al’s, the long-awaited Cajun concept from the team behind popular Italian food truck Patrizi’s, opened at 2406 Manor Rd. for limited takeout service on May 22. The establishment’s currently available “quick menu” (which lacks Vic and Al’s forthcoming dinner options and daily specials) features four entrees: slow-roasted pig, fried chicken thigh, blackened catfish, and a seasonal vegetarian option, all served on either a bed of rice or house greens, or sandwiched within a po’boy. The new restaurant made headlines in late March, long before it even opened, when owners/cousins Nic and Matt Patrizi opened a community kitchen in the space to serve the city’s unemployed service industry workers. According to its website, Vic and Al’s will continue to provide to-go food relief to those in need. Email the eatery’s beverage director, Terra Stahlbaum, at email@example.com for details.
Aptly named traveling pop-up grocery store, Pop Up Grocer announced the moving forward of its planned Austin residency at 408 W. Second St. with several precautions in place (e.g. requiring face masks for shoppers). From June 5-28, groups of up to four customers at a time can explore the pop-up’s vast selection of 150-plus sustainably minded food, beverage, and body care brands, while enjoying freshly baked bread courtesy of Sour Duck Market. Once open, store hours will run 10 am-7 pm daily, with appointment-only hours available between 9 am and 10 am for visitors uncomfortable sharing the space with others. Appointment hours can be scheduled at Pop-Up Grocer’s website.
Other news and notes
Austin’s laid off or furloughed hospitality industry workers are eligible for food relief from Austin Shift Meal. Started by ATXSomms co-founder Mandi Nelson, the program provides qualified applicants a weekly “goodie bag” featuring meals, snacks, and drinks from participating restaurants and brand partners such as Aviary, The Steeping Room, and Richard’s Rainwater. According to a release, Nelson is currently accepting restaurant sponsorships and monetary donations, the latter of which will be distributed by the program’s nonprofit partner, Austin Food and Wine Alliance. Interested parties can apply to receive this week’s bag, or volunteer to help with distribution at austinshiftmeal.com.
For the second year in a row, Les Dames Austin — the local chapter of nonprofit Les Dames d’Escoffier International — awarded $20,000 in scholarships, professional development stipends and grants to eight women in Central Texas’ culinary and hospitality industry. “We were thinking about the upheaval and uncertainty the hospitality industry has faced over the past several months'' said Stephanie Piland, Les Dames’ Austin scholarship chair, in a release. “Awarding $20,000 in educational scholarships and stipends at this moment felt like the ultimate act of optimism for our industry.” Notable scholarship recipients include Eberly wine director Krista Church, who received $4,000 to study sustainable winemaking in Austria, and Nixta co-owner Sara Mardanbigi, who received $2,000 to pursue sommelier certifications in the name of growing her operation’s beverage program.