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Caribbean fusion, Richard Jones BBQ closes, Austin Restaurant Week coming in September

Staff Writer
Austin 360
Levi Roots' recipe for Caribbean griddled aubergine can be a starter or a meal in itself.

Caribbean fusion comes to TV, bookstores in U.S.

Before becoming a well-known cookbook author and TV host in the U.K., Levi Roots was just a reggae musician with a killer secret sauce. In 2007, Roots pitched a line of jerk barbecue sauces based on his grandmother's recipe on a business reality TV show in the UK, which he eventually won. Major retailers quickly picked up the sauces, and within a few years, Roots had become the country's unofficial spokesman for food from his native Jamaica. Americans are just getting a taste of his style of fusion Caribbean food with the release of "Caribbean Food Made Easy With Levi Roots" ($24.99, Mitchell Beazley) and last month's debut of his cooking show of the same name on the Cooking Channel. The book is packed with dishes as colorful as the islands that inspired them, including recipes for grilling meats and vegetables that are perfect for people who by this point in the year are growing tired of burgers and steaks.

— Addie Broyles

Caribbean Griddled Aubergine

This is an incredibly versatile dish. Serve as a starter on its own, with baked potatoes for a main course, or alongside meat or fish.

5 Tbsp. olive oil, plus 2 Tbsp. to brush on aubergines (eggplants)

3 yellow peppers, deseeded and finely diced

3 sticks of celery, finely diced

1 cup butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and finely diced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 large eggplants, cut into rounds about a half-inch thick

1/2-11/2 hot red chile (ideally Scotch bonnet), deseeded and finely chopped, to taste

3 Tbsp. tomato puree

3 Tbsp. tamarind paste

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. fresh coriander or flat-leaf parsley leaves, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a large saucepan and add the peppers, celery, butternut squash and garlic, cooking until almost soft (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile, brush the eggplant with oil and fry very quickly in another pan, on both sides, to brown. (You can create grill marks by using a stovetop griddle or by roasting on top of an outdoor grill.)

Add the chili, tomato puree, tamarind paste and sugar to the softening diced vegetables along with 4-5 Tbsp. water and cook for another five minutes. Taste, and add more sugar or tamarind as necessary to get a good sweet and sour balance. Put the eggplant in an ovenproof dish. Top with dollops of the sauce and cover (use foil if you don't have a lid). Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the eggplants are tender. Serve garnished with coriander or parsley leaves.

— Adapted from 'Caribbean Food Made Easy With Levi Roots'

Richard Jones B-B-Q'S Friends say farewell after more than 40 smoky years

Rhonda King was born in 1966, the same year her father opened his first Richard Jones Pit Bar-B-Q at 2304 S. Congress Ave.

And she was there Aug. 18 when the restaurant served its last chopped-beef sandwich, closing after 43 years. She and her brother, Rick Jones, have run the restaurant since their father died in 1992.

"Everybody was telling us, ‘You can't close. You're a landmark. You can't leave us,' " she said. The restaurant was the first and last of four that once operated in Austin. King said business has gone down as the economy has faltered, while costs have continued to rise.

"We probably let it go longer than we should have, because we didn't want to give up such a good thing," she said.

The shop had 13 employees, and King said all of them stopped by for the last day, along with a handful from years past. "Through the years we have managed to meet some unbelievable, great customers as well as the awesome employees I had here," King said. "Everybody was like family."

Madeleine Sophie Weber of Austin was one of those customers. She stopped by the restaurant the day after it closed, just to see if King needed help. "It was really a neighborhood gathering place," she said.

— Mike Sutter

Buenos Aires Cafe moves to hill country galleria

The original location of Buenos Aires Cafe at 2414 S. First St. is moving to the Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave, chef and owner Reina Morris said. The Argentinean restaurant's other location, at 1201 E. Sixth St., will remain open.

"I really love South First. It's a very tiny place, and I've put a lot of myself there," Morris said. But she said leaks from heavy spring rains and recent water issues drove her to look for a new space.

The South First Street location is closed while water problems are being worked out, and it might not reopen before its scheduled last day on Saturday, said general manager Paola Guerrero. The Hill Country Galleria location — at the former site of Fish City Grill — is scheduled to open the first week of September, with 80 seats compared with the original's 38 seats, Morris said.

So far, all but one of the South First Street employees have said they'll move to the Galleria site, Guerrero said.

— M.S.

OPENINGS, CLOSINGS & COMING SOON

• Open: Wahoo's Fish Taco, a second Austin location of the California chain, at 1722 S. Congress Ave. 358-6600, www.wahoos.com.

• Open: Bayseas #7, a casual seafood restaurant, at 1311 Chestnut St. 499-8833.

• Open: Carrob's Cafe, a home-style restaurant serving breakfast, sandwiches, burgers, Tex-Mex and plate dinners, at 605 Sabine St. in the former site of the Texas Picnic Co., which has closed. 827-1992, www.carrobscafe.com.

• Open: Sugar Shack BBQ, a trailer serving pulled pork, sausage, chicken and brisket wraps and sandwiches at 21st Street and Whitis Avenue near the University of Texas. Open 9 a.m. until about 6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, plus Saturdays for UT home football games. 464-1151, www.sugarshackbbq.com.

• Open: Freddy's, the third area location of the frozen custard and ‘steakburger' franchise, at 707 Round Rock Ave., Round Rock. 388-6552, www.freddysfrozencustard.com.

• Reopened: Shades Cafe, a casual lakeside restaurant with burgers, quesadillas, chicken-fried steak, shrimp and more, on Lake Travis at Hurst Creek. 16410 Stewart Road. 266-2268, www.shadescafe.com.

• Under new ownership: China Cafe, formerly China Cafe by Phoenix, 1335 E. Whitestone Blvd., Suite 190, Cedar Park. 528-9963.

Closed: The retail part of Fête Accompli, 917 W. 12th St. Owner Quincy Adams Erickson says the catering side of the business, as well as the company's presence at the Sunset Valley and downtown farmers market on Saturdays, will continue as usual. feteaustin.com.

— M.S., A.B.

Update: An earlier version of this story had the location of Shades Cafe was incorrectly listed at Hurst Harbor on Lake Travis. The restaurant is at Lake Travis at the Sail & Ski Yacht Club at Hurst Creek.