If you haven’t had the chance to experience Geraldine’s Sunday Jazz Brunch yet, then you should change that. Tucked into Rainey Street and enfolded in the posh Hotel Van Zandt is the relatively new Geraldine’s, a restaurant that recently opened its doors in November, but is already establishing itself as a heavy hitter in Austin’s culinary scene due to its amazing everything.
Your experience will begin at the entrance with two heavy black doors that’ll lead you into the interior of the musically-inclined Van Zandt and to a single elevator. There’s only two floors available, one and four, and when the bell dings and the doors slide open to reveal an open, sun-drenched room buzzing with conversation and the music of a lively jazz band, you’ll realize you’ve come to the right place to eat brunch.
First thing of note is just how beautiful everything is. An arched ceiling hangs above with rows of vintage bulbs and the furniture — from the wooden tables to the high-backed chairs are intricate and unique — blend into Geraldine’s fusion theme of rustic and modern. Both the east and west walls are mostly windows that give diners a view of the Austin skyline, but not only that, there are also windows that allow you to see into the kitchen where the culinary team is hard at work.
The staff of Geraldine’s were absolutely warm and inviting, and also embodied that distinct Austin personality of quirky and stylish. The manager, Samuel, was dressed in a sharp three piece suit, leather oxfords, and a curled handle-bar mustache if that gives you any idea as to what I’m talking about. We were served coffee as we looked over the Sunday Brunch menu.
Geraldine’s talented culinary team includes, but is not limited to, executive chef Frank Mnuk, executive pastry chef Callie Speer (who you may recognize from her appearance on Cake Wars), and sous chefs Stephen Bonin and Jesse DeLeon. The Brunch menu, though having a relatively small selection, was tough to choose from, namely because everything sounded amazing – Brioche French Toast, Red Quinoa Breakfast Salad, and the Texas Farm Egg Omelet to name a few.
The Smoked Short Rib Taco was definitely a favorite. When it arrived at our table, we were surprised by just how pretty a taco could be. It was incredibly inventive with its usage of avocado, tomatillo sauce, and hollandaise. As someone who has never had hollandaise, I was wary of how it would taste on a taco, but my doubts were proven unfounded. The great thing about their short rib tacos is that they keep the easiness and convenience of the hard-shell taco we all know and love, but manage to make it high-class — not to mention packed with flavor. This is a dish that you have to try.
Next on our plates was the Corn Skillet Breakfast. We chose it because everyone around us recommended it. Created with Benton’s ham, smoked maple, preserved onion, and mustard greens, and nestled between two poached eggs – this was a plate that would warm any foodie’s heart. Needless to say, it didn’t last long on our table.
And, of course, there was the jazz band, the main attraction of Geraldine’s Jazz Brunch Special. Geraldine’s like much of Austin, celebrates music in all its forms, and actively promotes local artists. Here you’ll see resident favorites ranging from Americana to blues to folky crooners, whether it be during brunch or dinner.
Also within Geraldine’s is a well-stocked and very diverse bar, headed by one Jen Keyser, a woman whom the staff heralds as a “genius.” I believe it too after having a glass of her Vieux Carre. Geraldine’s also has very unique specialty cocktails that Keyser bottles for them, something I’ve never happened upon before. How it goes is that when Keyser can’t be available, she mixes her drinks and stores them in crafty Geraldine’s bottles so that they can be enjoyed all the time, which is good because these are cocktails that would be a shame to miss out on.
When it came time for the check, I was pleasantly surprised when it was presented to us within a vintage copy of Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield, tying Geraldine’s thematic knot. It’s hard to pick what exactly was the highlight of Geraldine’s. If anything, that’s a loaded question. Everything was a highlight, from the decor, to the staff, the food, the band and the view – it’s nearly impossible to choose.