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Wood-fired grill with full bar set for fall opening in Cibolo

August 17, 2018

CIBOLO — Chefs Gwyn and Justin Hammerson knew they wanted to open a restaurant this coming fall inside a century-old house in Cibolo, north of San Antonio.

They knew that Texas food and all its influences would form the heart of the restaurant they’re calling Kindling Texas Kitchen. What they never expected was that this house wasn’t just a home. It was a homecoming.

A little digging revealed that Justin Hammerson’s great-great-great uncle built the house, the one with the big front porch, red brick columns and white beadboard at 207 N. Main St., in 1911. His family goes back a few generations on both sides in Cibolo, and now he’s back.

Back from where? At 25, Justin Hammerson’s already an industry veteran, having cooked at the Austin restaurants Juliet, Cantine and the venerable Asti Trattoria. Gwyn Hammerson, 23, is an Austin native whose portfolio includes Barley Swine and Lenoir, two of Austin’s best restaurants.

The Hammersons, who will share duties as executive chefs, bar managers and hosts, call their menu “heritage Texas cooking.”

“Every time we say it’s Texas cuisine, they’re like, ‘Oh, chicken-fried steak and barbecue.’ It’s a little bit deeper than that,” Justin Hammerson said.

“All the cultures that settled Texas throughout history have brought food to Texas, and a little bit of style,” he said. “German, Dutch, Spanish, native, Mexican, French, you get the Creole up in East Texas ...”

Then, in tandem, both chefs said, “We’re just going to put them all together.”

A preliminary menu includes cornbread with sorghum butter, queso flameado with fermented chiles, grilled chicken with hoppin’ John, a wild boar patty melt, a cauliflower steak with caponata and a crispy pork belly with peach barbecue sauce.

Desserts will be handled by Charlaine Brown, a pastry chef who just happens to be Justin Hammerson’s grandmother.

To call the Hammersons a team would be putting it mildly. The couple met in high school, and when they married in March 2017, they combined their last names — Hammond for him and Wilkerson for her — to create Hammerson.

Together, they’ve been helping to run the 1908 House of Wine & Ale next door to Kindling since September 2016. It was 1908 House of Wine & Ale owners Lis and Jayme Mathis who bought the Kindling property and suggested the Hammersons put a restaurant there.

They’re hoping to finish the renovation work in September, then get the restaurant open by October at the latest.

The Hammersons are building a bar with six seats in the front room for wine, craft beer and cocktails. Throughout the house, they’re preserving original carved wood wainscoting, tall window casings, even a front door with a skeleton key that still works. They’re doing much of the work themselves, including a long chef’s table cut from the heart of a massive tree.

The back of the house is being modified for a walk-in refrigerator, a showcase kitchen with a wood-burning grill and maybe the most important upgrade: the home’s very first central air-conditioning system.

The restaurant will seat about 75 inside, with room for more in a whiskey garden out front. They plan to open for dinner from 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with brunch 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Look for updates on the restaurant’s Facebook page at @KindlingTexasKitchen.

msutter@express-news.net | Twitter: @fedmanwalking

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