The Central Texas College Hospitality department will open the spring semester Patio Café Cuisine Nights dinner series this Friday.

The menu features a Southwestern/Rocky Mountain cuisine. Dinner, which will be prepared by students in the American Region cooking class, will be served from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Southwest Dining Room of the CTC Student Center (Building 106).

The menu opens with an appetizer of fish sliders ($9.50) — hand-battered, fried catfish fillets and served with a house-made chipotle spiced slaw. The featured soup is chicken tortilla soup ($5.50 for a bowl or $2.50 for a cup with an entrée) — smoked ancho chili’s blended with tomatoes, onions and garlic added to a fresh chicken broth, simmered chicken pieces topped with tortilla strips, shredded cheddar cheese, fresh avocado, cilantro and lime wedge garnish. Diners can then choose the chicken fajita salad ($9) — romaine lettuce topped with chicken fajita strips, black beans, corn kernels, diced red bell pepper, diced jicama, red onions, tortilla strips and drizzled with a lime-infused jalapeno ranch dressing; or the house salad ($3.75 or free with an entrée).

The entrees are slow-braised beef cheeks ($16.50) — beef cheeks braised for four hours (until fork-tender) with red wine, house-made beef broth, onion, garlic, tomatoes and fresh parsley for four hours until fork tender; Southwestern chicken ($15) — grilled chicken breast seasoned with garlic, paprika and chili powder then cooled with a drizzle of lime juice; and southern-fried catfish ($16) — a whole tail-on catfish breaded with cornmeal and deep fried to golden perfection.

Each entrée is served with a choice of two side dishes: roasted red potatoes — quartered baby red potatoes seasoned with salt, pepper and fresh chopped rosemary; Southwestern rice and cheese — fork-fluffed rice baked with corn, roasted red peppers, scallions and shredded jack cheese then baked to a golden crisp; honey-glazed baby carrots — baby carrots sautéed with a touch of honey, brown sugar, fresh dill and thyme; and sautéed zucchini, peppers and tomatoes — zucchini, yellow bell peppers, grape tomatoes sautéed with garlic, salt and fresh cracked pepper. Each side dish is also available a la carte at $4 each.

For dessert, diners have the choice of Southwestern stuffed eclairs ($5.75) — a light and airy choux pastry stuffed with a sweet and spicy orange and cayenne chocolate ganache — the Southwest version of the traditional French pastry; and raspberry lemon bars ($6.50) — whole raspberries in a lemon cream cheese on top of raspberry preserves and a delicious crust.

Reservations for the Patio Café dinner are required and can be made by calling the CTC Hospitality department at 254-526-1515.


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