This season of Patio Cafe Cuisine Nights at Central Texas College will kick off with a Caribbean/Asian fusion dinner from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday in the culinary arts area of the student center, building 106.
The dinner, prepared by students in the college’s Intermediate cooking class, will be the first in the series of special cafe nights at the campus that aim to provide students with real-world restaurant experience while offering affordable, unique meals to the public, according to university officials.
“Patrons can look forward to an evening of fine, moderately-priced dining with the Patio Cafe dinners,” said Bruce Vasbinder, CTC spokesman. “A new cuisine will be offered every two weeks. Diners would probably pay substantially more for a similar meal at a fine dining establishment.”
Vasbinder said roughly 85 patrons have attended each dinner in the college’s 15 years of hosting the meals, but that the capacity for the cafe nights is about 150 people and the university is hopeful for a full-house this season.
The students will be planning and preparing several courses for each night and are also responsible for handling all behind-the-scenes tasks, according to Vasbinder.
Ramona Lezo, CTC culinary arts program coordinator, said the university is seeing a trend in students starting to pursue careers in culinary arts.
“They are primarily looking at nonchain establishments which will offer them greater flexibility in what they are cooking and greater promotional opportunities,” she said. “Many of these students start out as line cooks and within six months they are managers.”
Menu for Friday
The menu Friday will include a Port Royal trio appetizer featuring a trio of jerk beef patties wrapped in a savory pastry, smoked salmon sushi rolls and braised oxtail-pork egg rolls for $9.75.
The soup of the day will be Caribbean egg drop soup offered at $8.50 for a bowl or $2.50 for a cup and the salad course will be a choice between a Carib-Asian steak salad for $10.75 or a house salad for $3.75 that is also free with an entree.
The entrees of the evening will be sweet and spicy salmon for $17; five-spice pork ribs for $17; Cuban mango bulgogi for $16; and the “jerk,” tender boneless chicken thighs grilled, sliced and stir-fried with Asian veggies and served over a bed of chow mein noodles for $14.
Each entree, except “the jerk,” will be served with a choice of two side dishes.
For dessert, diners will have the choice of strawberry cheesecake wontons for $4.25 or tropical black cake for $4.75.
Reservations for each Patio Cafe dinner are required and can be made by calling the CTC Hospitality Department at 254-526-1515.