Time Honored Traditions
Better than boring brunch: Olive & June brings back the tradition of SundayDinner
There’s something about Sunday supper that says “family.” It’s the kind of thing many people share from generation to generation. My great grandmother used to serve up her famous pot roast with potatoes, carrots and gravy for my dad and grandparents when he was growing up. My mom remembers her mother’s meatloaf.
For me, it may not have been every Sunday, but I seem to remember summer Sunday dinners featuring something from the grill after spending most of the day splashing around our pool. Whether you call it “supper” or “dinner,” the heart of the idea is about family coming together to share a little time over a meal.
It’s this Sunday family tradition that inspired Shawn Cirkiel, executive chef/owner of Parkside, the Backspace and Olive & June, to recreate a long-lived tradition under the roof of his newest space, Olive & June.
"This is how we like to eat," says Cirkiel. "It’s casual, you don’t have to choose anything, everything is brought to you family style for you to snack on and savor."
“For me, Sunday is the one day of the week that I’m off to spend with my kids and my wife,” says Cirkiel. “My kids have grown up in restaurants and this is part of our tradition together to sit down for a no-fuss meal and eat together.”
And on any given Sunday, you’ll find Cirkiel doing exactly that. While he and Chef de Cuisine Justin Rupp help organize the menu, Cirkiel and his family take advantage of the time together as restaurant patrons. For the past few months, he’s enjoyed sharing that experience with Olive & June diners as well.
Each Sunday Dinner menu includes six items: antipasti, salad, a house-made pasta dish, a couple of side dishes using seasonal vegetables, a main dish and, of course, dessert. The price: $35 for adults, and kids under 12 eat free. The menu also includes two optional wine selections as well as a featured cocktail.
On a recent visit, the antipasti of Roma tomatoes stuffed with cucumber-studded couscous was vibrant with fresh summer flavor and fresh; al dente house-made linguini sang with a light and citrusy clam sauce and roasted pork loin with herbs was just like something out of my childhood kitchen.
“This is how we like to eat,” says Cirkiel. “It’s casual, you don’t have to choose anything, everything is brought to you family style for you to snack on and savor. It’s similar to what other restaurants like Chez Panisse have done in their restaurants and we don’t have anything like it in Austin.”
Sure, you can roll out of bed on any given Sunday and stumble into just about any restaurant serving a standard brunch fair — some better than others — but there’s something different about Sunday Dinner at Olive & June. Something a little more communal and relational, especially if you’re sharing it with family or friends.
Seating for the dinners begins at 5:30 p.m. and it is the only dining option served throughout the restaurant. Although you could try your luck at walking in last minute, it’s best to have a reservation. The kitchen only prepares enough food to serve a certain number of people, and if you show up too late, you may be turned away.
“We don’t have anything like this in Austin,” Says Cirkiel. “But it’s an extension of who we are as a restaurant and it's really unique. At 5:30 you see so many families bring their children to have that experience of eating a good meal in a restaurant. The later time slots have a slightly different crowd, but the feeling is the same.”
Cirkiel has never been known to follow the crowd. In fact, he prides himself on finding his own way of doing things, which is perhaps what sets him apart as one of the better chefs and restaurateurs in Austin.
And he’s certainly paving a new way with his Sunday Dinner concept proving that Sundays now have more to offer than boring old brunch, and that restoring a little family time to kick off each new week is something worth relishing.