Canje, the Caribbean restaurant with major Guyanese roots from executive chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph and the rest of the Emmer & Rye team, is debuting this week in East Austin. The 1914 East Sixth restaurant will open starting on Tuesday, October 5.
Through Canje, Bristol-Joseph will showcase his hometown cuisine — he was born and raised in Georgetown, Guyana — as well as fare from elsewhere in the Caribbean from Jamaica to Puerto Rico. This means dishes such as plantain chips served with a mango hot sauce and pork-fat mayonnaise-ketchup mixture, wild boar pepper pot, Guyanese-style roti, jerk chicken with charred tomatoes, and mango and pineapple achar (where the fruits are spiced and pickled).
Desserts — a specialty of Bristol-Joseph’s — will include ambrosia with spiked rum and fruits, black cake (containing dried liquor-soaked fruit) with cream cheese frosting, and flan served with passion fruit. There are also sweet fried plantains.
These Caribbean influences extend into the cocktail menu developed by beverage director Kate Houser. There’s the Curry Wata made with a curry-infused gin, rum, and a mango-apple chutney; a tamarind sour; and a frozen pina colada. Rounding out the drinks offerings are beers and wines.
The name is a reference to the national bird of Guyana, the Canje pheasant. The space features an indoor dining room as well as a private dining space, designed by the restaurant’s partner Rand Egbert.
Canje is the latest restaurant from the recently formed Emmer & Rye Hospitality Group, under Bristol-Joseph and partner and executive chef Kevin Fink. Also under the Emmer & Rye umbrella is Hestia, Kalimotxo, Henbit, and TLV.
The new restaurant took over the space previously belonging to the colorful tropical bar Last Straw, which opened in 2018 and closed at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. Before that, the East Sixth address housed neighborhood spot Chicon and higher-end vegetable-focused Gardner, both from the team behind New Texan restaurant Contigo.
Canje’s hours are from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and then from 5 p.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday. Online reservations are available.