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Dale's Table



Wining and dining with Dale Rice.



Published: 2008-08-04T14:40:13-06:00

 



Get an earlier start at Uchi

2008-08-04T14:40:13-06:00

Uchi announced that its hours are expanding, with the sushi restaurant opening 30 minutes earlier. The new hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays and 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays.




Your A-List: Best seafood restaurants

2008-07-30T11:33:23-06:00

When it comes to seafood, two restaurants in town hooked nearly two-thirds of your votes. Quality Seafood, with 37 percent of the ballots, and Truluck’s, with 29 percent, topped the spots you head for fish and shellfish. Quality (on Airport Boulevard) is a casual, order-at-the-counter spot, while Truluck’s (with two locations: downtown and the Arboretum) is a fine-dining establishment.

Others receiving votes

  • Gumbo’s, 13 percent
  • Catfish Parlour, 7 percent
  • Mariscos Seafood, 3 percent
  • T&S Seafood Restaurant, 2 percent
  • Alligator Grill, 2 percent
  • Boiling Pot, 2 percent
  • Saba Blue Water Grill, 2 percent
  • TJ’s Seafood, 2 percent
  • Crawfish Shack and Oyster Bar, < 1 percent
  • Ajua, < 1 percent
  • Anchos, < 1 percent

Write-ins: Cherry Creek Catfish, Eddie V’s, Fish City Grill, III Forks, Joe’s Crab Shack, Pacific Star, Red Lobster, Roy’s




4 area Bennigan's locations still open; others nationwide closed

2008-07-29T14:25:32-06:00

Dozens of company-owned Bennigan’s and Steak & Ale restaurants were closed today after the owner of the national chain filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Plano-based MetroMedia Restaurant Group announced that its subsidiary, S&A Restaurant Corp., had filed for Chapter 7, the form of bankruptcy in which a company liquidates all of its assets. It said franchisee-owned outlets would not be affected by the move.

That means most area Bennigan’s locations — 12415 N. Interstate 35 and 13995 U.S. 183 N. in Austin, as well as restaurants in Round Rock and San Marcos — will be spared and remain open. The Bennigan’s at 301 Barton Springs Road closed several weeks ago, and no one answered the phone at the chain’s 7604 N. I-35 location.




Go Texan

2008-07-25T08:00:00-06:00

The Texas Department of Agriculture wants to sign up chefs and restaurant owners who buy local products and are willing to feature Texas items on their menus on Oct. 1. It’s part of the inaugural Go Texan Restaurant Round-Up and statewide dine-out day, sponsored by the state agency to highlight items grown or made in the Lone Star State. Launched earlier this year, the Go Texan restaurant program has enlisted more than 300 establishments, including the Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap and the Driskill Grill in Austin.




Fixed price for summer

2008-07-23T08:00:00-06:00

The Driskill Grill is offering a new, three-course, fixed-price menu that will run through Labor Day. The courses include a chopped salad with Maytag blue cheese, a choice of butter-roasted prime filet or crispy red snapper (both with assorted accompaniments) and a trio of desserts. Available nightly Tuesday through Saturday, the cost is $55 a person.




Nice prize

2008-07-21T08:00:00-06:00

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is celebrating the annual release of its list of 100 wines by the glass with a contest that will please wine lovers: a contest in which the winner will walk away with 100 bottles of wine — 70 from the by-the-glass list and 30 hand-selected by the chain’s director of wine after consultation with the winner. To enter, all you have to do is fill out the form on Fleming’s web site.




Stable appetite for fish

2008-07-17T11:19:18-06:00

The average American consumed 16.3 pounds of fish and shellfish last year, according to a study released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service. That represents a 1 percent decline from the previous year, for a total of 4.908 billion pounds of seafood in 2007.

The United States remains the No. 3 consumer of fish and shellfish behind China and Japan. About 84 percent of our seafood is imported.

The top choice of Americans? Shrimp, at 4.1 pounds per person. Americans also consumed an average of 3.9 pounds of canned seafood, primarily tuna, per person.

I probably eat my fair share of shrimp, but someone is certainly making up for me on the canned tuna front.




Confession time

2008-07-16T15:32:04-06:00

I’ll ‘fess up, and it’s probably no surprise. My picks in today’s story about chilled coffee drinks both involved ice cream: the affogato (a double shot of espresso over vanilla gelato) at Teo’s and the Espress o Rocket (Amy’s chocolate ice cream, double shot of espresso and milk) at the Hideout. The Espress o Rocket is a thick, caffeine-spiked chocolate milkshake, while the affogato is a rich cup of coffee and cream. Both are perfect ways to cool off on a scorching summer day.




Castle Hill to close

2008-06-19T15:43:51-06:00

Castle Hill Cafe, the restaurant that became famous as Austin’s affordable fine-dining spot, is closing at the end of this month after more than two decades in business because it has become too expensive to operate a fine-dining venue.

“It’s too hard, to be honest, way too hard for us,” owner Cathe Dailey said Thursday. With food and gas prices soaring, it seems like each day brings another cost increase in one or more items, she said.

Plus, the downtown dining scene has changed dramatically in recent years.

“The demographic has changed so much around us,” Dailey said. “Eighteen years ago when we moved into this building, we were considered on the edge of town. Now downtown is surrounding us with condominiums.”

Those new residents, motivated by DWI laws that encourage people to avoid drinking and driving, “are looking for neighborhood restaurants they can call their own,” she said.

So Daily is closing Castle Hill on June 28 and taking at least a month for a major makeover of the place before reopening the space at 1101 W. Fifth St. as Corazon, an interior Mexican restaurant with a full-service bar and lounge.

“It’s been the greatest ride,” Dailey said. “I’m not horribly sentimenal about it. It’s another side of the coin for me. We sort of returning to our roots as a place that’s more afforadable, more available to more people.”

See more details in the story in Friday’s American-Statesman Business section.




Salmonella still causing illnesses

2008-06-18T14:28:49-06:00

A half-dozen new cases of salmonella linked to tomatoes were reported by the New York City Health Department today, bringing the total number of Big Apple cases to seven. An agency official said she wouldn’t be surprised to see more cases reported in coming days, Bloomberg.com reported. According to the Food & Drug Administration, salmonella linked to tomatoes has been confirmed in nearly 280 cases in 28 states and Washington, D.C., with the most — nearly 70 — in Texas.




Multiple tomato hits

2008-06-04T14:24:26-06:00

Texas French Bread is a perfect example of the multiple ways in which restaurants are affected by the problem of a potential salmonella contamination of tomatoes.

Today, the restaurant posted signs on its menu bulletin board notifying customers that fresh tomatoes were taken off the sandwiches and that no salsa or pasta salad, both made with fresh, raw tomatoes, were available.

That just shows how pervasive raw tomatoes are in today’s restaurant business.




Tomato precaution

2008-06-04T11:40:33-06:00

Many restaurants are continuing to take the precaution of removing uncooked Roma and large tomatoes from their menus while state and federal agencies investigate an outbreak of salmonella linked to tomatoes.

“We have taken all but the cherry tomatoes off the menu until we can get certification that they are safe,” Chez Zee owner Sharon Watkins reported this morning.

That’s what Eastside Cafe owners Dorsey Barger and Elaine Martin, for example, did when they learned of the concern about salmonella linked to tomatoes in a nine-state region that includes Texas.

According to the state health department, consumers should avoid eating raw Roma or full-sized tomatoes until investigators pinpoint the source of the contamination. Homegrown tomatoes or ones that are still attached to a vine are safe to eat, officials said, because they are not implicated in this outbreak.




The passing of a great vintner

2008-05-16T16:01:50-06:00

Robert Mondavi, the vintner who helped propel California to its status as one of the world’s great wine-producing regions, died today, according to a spokesman for the winery. He was 94.

A few years ago, I interviewed Mondavi when he was the honored winemaker at the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival. When I asked him whether he thought the rules of wine drinking — red with this, white with that — could be intimidating, he replied that all the old guidelines should be thrown out and replaced with a single protocol:

“Drink what you like, and like what you drink.”

Of all the recommendations I’ve heard in the years I’ve been writing about food and wine, that was the wisest.




Chicago overturns ban on foie gras

2008-05-14T15:07:12-06:00

The Chicago City Council today repealed its 2-year-old ban on foie gras. According to the Chicago Tribune Web site, the council voted 37-6 to overturn the measure, which opponents contended made Chicago a laughingstock.

The first major American city to ban foie gras, Chicago became an important symbol for the anti-foie-gras movement. Now, restaurants in this city that is one of the United States’ leading culinary centers will be able to serve the fatty duck liver again without fear of legal consequences.




Black bean paste and noodles

2008-04-30T08:00:00-06:00

BEIJING — Kang, our young Chinese friend, had done his research. He was joining us for lunch and a multihour visit to the Temple of Heaven, an exquisitely beautiful site that played an important role for hundreds of years as the place where the emperor prayed annually for good harvests.

Kang, a student at Beijing University, had read about Zha Jiang Mian, a famous noodle house that is more than 100 years old and is not far from the east gate of the temple. So we headed there for a lunch of noodles. The bowl of noodles arrived with julienned vegetables on top and a small bowl of black bean-and-pork sauce on the side. We followed Kang’s lead and dumped the black bean paste over the noodles, took a few noodles to swab the inside of the sauce bowl and then mixed the noodles and the savory, slightly sour sauce. It was delicious.

This place would definitely be on my list for a repeat visit if I had more time in Beijing.