A mini corn muffin, warm from the oven, crumbles almost before it reaches your mouth. Butter melts into sweetness, then spice and smoke.
It’s no surprise that MORE! executive chef Gabriela Osornio got her start as a baker. And the amuse-bouche is a perfect representative of what MORE! serves: American and Mexican food.
Fish tacos. Potato poblano taquitos topped with crisp iceberg lettuce and served with black beans and rice.
Fresh, warm chips and guacamole with a hint of lime.
These Mexican favorites share the menu with such items as chicken pot pie and a Texas cheeseburger.
Brunch at Haven Bistro
Chef Gaby and her husband Quinton Robinson also own and run Haven on Lake Travis at the Island. The bistro has a clear view across the lake to Pace Bend Park. The menu offers American and Mediterranean-style dishes.
For Sunday brunch, house-made cinnamon-roll or carrot-cake French toast comes with a dollop of cream cheese frosting. Want dessert first? Start the day with one of these treats.
If savory is more your thing, Gaby suggests the Mediterranean omelette: sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and spinach with a pesto cream sauce.
Like veggies? The brussel sprouts are flash-fried in deep fat for a tender center and crispy outer leaves.
Or try the Hill Country Benedict. Steamed asparagus adds just the right touch to this dish.
Artisanal sausage patties are made in-house. Sausage gravy poured over fresh-baked country biscuits makes for a hearty dish.
Passion and education
Running her own kitchen is a dream come true for Gaby. It’s all she ever wanted to do.
“When I was about five or six,” Gaby says, “I begged for an Easy-Bake Oven.” Instead, her dad bought her a real toaster oven and she started making cakes for family and friends.
Gaby attended culinary arts high school in Tijuana. After graduating, she taught there for two years. Then it was on to the Art Institute in San Diego for another degree in culinary arts.
La Vida Lago
Gaby and Quinton moved to Lago Vista in 2010, after Quinton discovered it on a fishing trip. The family couldn’t resist Lago: rolling green hills and sparkling Lake Travis combined with affordable living and good schools.
The Lago Vista Women’s Club had Gaby teach a class, “Around the World in a Cooking Pot.” Her business Gabybakes took off, and people started asking when she was going to open her own restaurant.
An empty storefront, a call to the landlord, and MORE! was fledged.
Asked during a busy Sunday brunch at Haven if there is anything unexpected about running her own Lago Vista restaurants, Gaby doesn’t hesitate: “The numbers. All the paperwork.”
She’s glad that the business end is mostly handled by Quinton, who also cooks and serves when needed at MORE! “He makes me stronger where I’m weak,” Gaby says. The couple develops the menus for both places together.
There are good surprises, too, Gaby points out. The staff has become like family.
Haven server Lynda Miserendino hands Gaby a fistful of bills in the kitchen. Gaby explains that Lynda offered to bring the day’s change from home.
“And when we needed bigger coffee mugs,” Gaby says, Cheri Gerulatt, Haven’s front-house manager, shopped around until she found the perfect set.
All Haven’s staff members live close by: Ava Ortiz handles reservations and seating; Dulcie Pepe serves along with Lynda. Amanda Newton lends a hand in the kitchen while Gaby expedites.
MORE! (512-276-2439) is at 7708 Lohmans Ford Road, Suite 108, Building A. Next to Lago Donut. It’s open from 11am to 9pm. Monday through Thursday, 11am to 10pm. Friday and Saturday, and brunch on Sunday from 9am to 2pm with dinner Sunday 3pm to 9pm.
Haven on Lake Travis at the Island (512-519-9429) is at 3404 American Drive, in the gated condo community of The Island on Lake Travis. It’s open Thursdays from 5pm to 9pm with happy hour 5pm to 7pm. Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 10pm, Sunday brunch 10 am to 2pm.
The first Friday of each month at Haven features karaoke. Special guests like Julie Slim and Rendezvous also appear on occasion. Check the website or Facebook for upcoming events, and come get your song on!