aged like fine wine
Garrison Brothers dinner near Austin makes senior residence a hot culinary destination
Seriously, senior living has never been so chic. The Hacienda at Georgetown looks like an upscale hotel, and it basically is — but for full-time living. A new restaurant by a legendary Texas chef is starting to draw people from all walks of life, with much better food than some of Austin's influencer-sustained hotspots.
Stephan Pyles — a once-Chef of the Year at Esquire often credited with establishing Southwestern Cuisine in restaurants — decided to open the restaurant in early 2023 not just to serve the residents, but to whip up interest in visiting the complex, which includes independent living, assisted living, and memory care. Instead of relying on a heartstring-tugging campaign about senior isolation, he went straight for what really motivates people: excellent local food.
Pyles and his team invited CultureMap to the inaugural event in an evolving dinner series, in this case pairing a five-course menu with wines by the chef's old friend, Kim McPherson of McPherson Cellars. We were certainly the youngest visitors, but may have also been some of the most charmed by the great food and interesting ambiance.
Next up, on November 19, Alma is hosting the widely loved Garrison Brothers Distillery for a bourbon dinner pairing four courses with three cocktails and two more "near shots" for tasting.
Chefs admire their creations in the dramatic kitchen lighting, visible from the dining room.Photo by Brianna Caleri
The Hill Country distillery is known for really committing to the bit, making excellent bourbons and standing by them in ways that nearly qualify as stunts: a $250 annual release, taking over restaurants and bars, and creating custom bourbons to generate funds for Texas nature reserves.
At the McPherson Cellars dinner, menu items included a unique and sweet ajo blanco (white gazpacho) with lobster ceviche, vanilla-scented fennel, and frozen champagne grapes; a pork belly confit that was one nudge of a fork from falling to shreds, with a mascarpone polenta cake that was like a cross between a hush puppy and a cheesecake; and South Texas nilgai antelope alongside a purple sweet potato humita — like a South American tamale.
This pork-and-polenta duo, pictured with a peach slice and crispy chicharron, was a unique contrast of creamy, fatty, and crunchy textures.Photo by Brianna Caleri
These hard-to-find items inspired hot food takes and storytelling among diners at the communal tables, which included residents, visitors from nearby communities, family members, and even food producers who came to enjoy their fruits of their labor. CultureMap sat next to a couple who lived nearby — not yet at an age that they were ready to move in, but definitely considering it in the future. We traded tips about musicals coming to town and where to find the best tamales in San Antonio.
McPherson also walked from table to table to discuss the wines, show off a label with personal significance and a cool backstory about art licensing, and otherwise connect with visitors. He and Pyles presented the pairings with the easy rapport of longtime collaborators.
After the Garrison Brothers dinner, there are three more 2023 events:
- Sunday, December 10: Bubbles and Fried Chicken Dinner — Four courses and four sparkling wines (starting at $95).
- Sunday, December 24: Christmas Eve — Limited à la carte menu, optional Christmas Eve tasting menu and wine pairing ($65).
- Sunday, December 31: New Year's Eve — Two seatings for three-course tasting menu with choices (starting at $95, plus $40 optional wine pairing).
Tickets ($145) for the Garrison Brothers Bourbon Dinner on November 19 at 5:30 pm are available now. Book via OpenTable.