With the recent opening of Canopy by Hilton Austin Downtown, comes a bright new addition to the local restaurant dining scene.
Nobody denies it. This is not the perfect time to be opening any kind of business–even in Austin’s evolving West Sixth Street neighborhood. That said, Verbena, a new full-service restaurant and bar at Canopy, confidently threw open its doors July 10 with Chef Nic Yanes at the helm.
A native Texan with an extensive culinary resume, Yanes is no stranger to Austin having opened Juniper in East Austin in 2015 and Uncle Nicky’s, a casual Northern Italian cafe located in Austin’s Hyde Park neighborhood, in 2019.
As his newest venture launches, we were keen to hear from Chef Yanes about his challenges, approach and dining tips.
What are the top challenges to opening a restaurant during a pandemic?
The three most challenging aspects are staffing, safety and sales. I am proud of how our team has handled opening during this trying time and the energy and excitement they have for Verbena has given us faith that we can succeed.
We want to welcome everyone in, we want to serve you safely, and we want to ensure that the restaurant industry in general can survive and thrive, even with major obstacles.
Is menu planning different when you’re thinking of both in-house dining and also to-go?
At the moment, the Verbena menu is designed to travel so that our guests can dine at the Canopy by Hilton hotel pool deck on the second floor of the property as well as in various other areas of the hotel, including the dining in-room. We pack our meals nicely in to-go containers to make for a tasty meal at any location, but we love having guests in the new restaurant space or on the Verbena patio.
The patio is special — it has a large fireplace, lush plants, a water feature and remains remarkably cool even in the summer temps. It has already become a favorite place to relax and dine in the few weeks that we’ve been open.
What are your favorite dishes to prepare?
I truly cannot choose a favorite and I love the entire menu. But, if you twisted my arm I would say you must get the Potato Rosti with crab salad, avocado and corn. It is a standout dish that you must order when coming to Verbena. I am also a big fan of the Lamb Steak.
What about the non-meat eaters among your diners?
Verbena has many, many options for non-meat eaters. Our Flatbread with fresh avocado and heirloom tomatoes is a great choice. We also offer bountiful salads and even have few vegan entrees. We have designed this menu to be an everyday option whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner and it also meets several dietary restriction needs. All items on the menu use top quality ingredients and are light and fresh.
Austin loves a good cocktail. What’s your tip for a pairing at Verbena?
The cocktails at Verbena are designed to balance the dishes and they truly can go with every dish. One of my favorites is the Veruca Salt with gin, antica, lemon, blueberry and rosemary with our bone-in lamb steak.
Cover photo courtesy Consumable Content/@consumablecontent
Julie Tereshchuk is the Editor-in-Chief of Texas Lifestyle Magazine.