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Statesman Critic Has New Respect for Brunch Thanks to Holy Roller

The Chronicle finds spicy, hearty Nigerian soup

The Casbah at Holy Roller
The Casbah at Holy Roller
Holy Roller/Facebook
Erin Russell is associate editor of Eater Austin, a native Austinite, and a big fan of carbs.

Statesman critic Matthew Odam finally released his review of women-run diner Holy Roller, and it seems he’s been searching for the right words to express his devotion. Odam revels in his descriptions of the downtown restaurant, noting that the “takes its cooking seriously... but doesn’t appear to get hung up on taking itself too seriously.”

Odam starts with praise for Speer’s take on the meatloaf sandwich, a kicked-up version of her grandmother’s recipe (adding herbs and subbing plain white bread for homemade milk bread), but mentions that “[f]inishing this whole thing should come with a reward, and a warning label.”

Though a fan of the brunch options, like yellow cake pancakes served with cold brew-kicked chai soft serve and blackberries, Odam avoids the crowds by visiting at lunch.

I will enjoy one of the best burgers in town — an American-cheese-draped, double-patty pinup model of nostalgia served on a small, not-too-sweet-or-buttery bun ($14). Or perhaps an electric Waldorf salad (yes, Holy Roller serves four salads!) that swaps out mayonnaise for whipped yogurt ($9), or shrimp with grits formed into a toasty-edged circle like a polenta cake in a dish that leaves its Creole and Sriracha sting on your lips ($16).

Though he has some small complaints about the migas kolache (“too much bread”) and the creativity behind the dinner options, Odam was pleased to find blue plate specials are in the works for the restaurant.

Emily Beyda ventured up North Lamar and through a winding grocery store to sample Nigerian food at Tropical Restaurant for the Chronicle. Through chiding service (that she seemingly found endearing), Beyda proclaimed the spicy pepper soup with slow-cooked beef “the perfect meal for cold season.” However, the critic’s must-try dish was the jollof rice topped with gamey goat meat:

The rice – smoky and coated with an intense tomato reduction – is served in an enormous, oil-slicked pile, and what tastes like some kind of rendered fat, with big chunks of caramelized onions adding a soft sweetness.

Sarah Thurmond visited neighborhood wine-bar-turned-restaurant Aviary for Austin Monthly, and approved of the new iteration. Approving of the gorgeous redesign (like “sitting beneath a Mediterranean sky at dusk”), the group dug into sharable plates. However, friendships were tested when it came to desserts:

All the food is perfectly cooked and hearty. To top off the night, we order desserts: a chocolate tea cake and strawberry tart. Both are scrumptious, and we argue about which is better.

THE BLOGS: Dine With Shayda enjoyed the patio and the Topo Chico-based Ranch Water cocktail at Ranch 616. ATX Eats and Treats had to practically be rolled out of brunch at TLC, but proclaimed the visit worth it for the chicken fried steak.

Holy Roller

509 Rio Grande Street, , TX 78701 (512) 502-5119 Visit Website

Tropical Restaurant

10805-J N. Lamar, Austin, TX 78753 Visit Website

Aviary Wine & Kitchen

2110 South Lamar Boulevard, , TX 78704 (512) 916-4445 Visit Website