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Holy Roller, chef Callie Speer’s spirited all-day brunch restaurant and bar, now open downtown

Matthew Odam

She may be known by many Austin diners as one of the city’s most exciting and playful pastry chefs, but former Geraldine’s and Swift’s Attic executive pastry chef  Callie Speer started her career on the savory side of the kitchen.

With the opening of  Holy Roller, the longtime chef is getting back in touch with her roots. Speer, who has also worked at Mars and Jeffrey’s, is opening her first restaurant, Holy Roller, which is an all-day brunch concept that promises food, drink and a little bit of attitude.

The restaurant located in downtown’s West End, at 509 Rio Grande St. in the former Wahoo’s Taco space, serves breakfast, such as pastries and coffee, beginning at 8 a.m. daily and a brunch-inspired dishes from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with bar service until late on weekends. A special “Sunday School” brunch menu is served on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The unapologetically aggressive main menu includes stick-to-your-ribs handhelds like fried chicken and egg on a honey biscuit, and shaved ham, apple butter and thyme streusel on an apple bun; and the roster of larger dishes features tea-brined chicken, and a burger with a fried egg and hashbrowns.

Speer leads an all-female roster of top line talent that includes beverage director Jen Keyser, pastry chef Britt Castro, and general manager Sarah Bevil, each of whom Speer has worked with in the past. Keyser’s bar menu includes some colorful cocktails with subversive names, a bubble-heavy wine list, Bloody Mary pitchers and more. Drink selections also include a variety of non-alcoholic shrubs.

Driving home the restaurant’s devil-may-care theme, the rock-and-roll space is colored with vintage furniture, velvet curtains, graffiti and neon signage, including the iconic Club de Ville crown.

“Together, we’re doing something we really like in the most creative way we knew how,” Speer said. “It was important to us that we had something for everybody—from families to partiers, and it was equally important to me to serve a menu of dishes that we really wanted to eat. It plays on the nostalgia with new takes on food you probably ate growing up, but with a little more.”