Food & Wine Festival Cofounder Tim Love reveals this year’s exciting line-up—and his new Austin eatery.
Tim Love, a cofounder of the Austin Food & Wine Festival, plans to open a new outpost of Lonesome Dove downtown.
Things aren’t slowing down anytime soon for chef Tim Love. Best known in Texas circles for his slew of Fort Worth restaurants—Lonesome Dove, Western Bistro, and the Woodshed, among others—Love also costars on CNBC’s Restaurant Startup with Joe Bastianich and has a line of barbecue rubs and sauces.
Now, his presence in Austin is growing: He’s a founder of the capital’s Food & Wine Festival, and he’s opening a Lonesome Dove downtown in the former Kenichi space. The menu will feature some of his signature game dishes like rabbit-rattlesnake sausage and wild boar ribs as well as a few only-in-A-Town surprises. We chatted with Love about the new space and what’s going to make this spring’s Food & Wine Festival, now in its fourth year, the best to date.
You’re opening a second Lonesome Dove restaurant, this one in downtown Austin. Have you had Austin in your sights for a long time? TIM LOVE: I have. Since becoming a chef and cofounder of the Austin Food & Wine Festival, it’s been in the plan to eventually open a restaurant here. It was just a matter of finding the right space and the right time. I didn’t want to push it. I wanted to get more involved with the Austin community before I asked it to embrace me. All of the city’s chefs have been amazing and inviting, and hopefully I can complement what they’re doing.
The crowd at last year’s Food & Wine Festival.
So how will this new Lonesome Dove differ from the original Fort Worth Stockyards location? TL: We have a lot of surprises that I don’t want to share, but the spirit of the restaurant is going to be the same. I want it to fit the city’s personality. People in Austin like to see out to the street, so it’s a brighter restaurant with lots of windows. We’re also building a tremendous limestone wine room that will have a 14-top table. Since it will always be 55 degrees in there, we’ve designed beautiful cashmere ponchos and great suede vests for our diners to wear.
How does the Austin Food & Wine Festival differ from others you’ve been involved with, like those in Aspen and South Beach? TL: What I like about this festival is that it really feels like a Texas event. We have a fire-pit area where, every day, chefs cook over open flames from the morning on. People hang out, chat with the chef, and taste pieces of meat right off the spit, which really says “Texas.” My grilling demonstration has also become popular. Along with bringing in national talent from outside Austin, we expose local talent, which is what excites me the most. The Friday-night Taste of Texas event, for example, is a big hit. The other thing that makes this festival unique is the city of Austin itself. In other places, you go to a food and wine festival just for the event. Here, people also want to explore the city and its music and restaurant scenes.
What new events can people look forward to this year? TL: We’re adding new elements to our already very popular Thursday-night dinner, where five chefs create five courses, all served family style. Last year those tickets sold out in an hour and a half. We are adding more chefs to the fire pit and the Chef Showcase.
On your next trip to Austin, are you looking forward to dining anywhere in particular? TL: I love Odd Duck. I think it’s one of the great restaurants in the city. I want to go to Jacoby’s, and I’m looking forward to Gardner. I’ve heard great things about it, and they introduced the restaurant concept at the festival last year.
How do you typically get here from Fort Worth? TL: I drive, although I often take 281 instead of I-35. I like to stop off in Hico and get a piece of pie