Kerbey Lane Cafe is a UT staple best known for its queso and comfort food. But their new restaurant branch, High Note, is serving up health-focused dishes, such as vegan cubans and quinoa falafels.
Forty years after Kerbey Lane first opened its doors, the family-owned company is taking a different approach to the new branch. High Note, which opened in April, is a health-focused restaurant with a menu that caters to vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and paleo dietary needs.
“We started seeing these health trends and we just wanted to create food that was great, urban food within the downtown area,” said Amanda Kuda, vice president of communications for High Note. “We wanted to create an environment that was welcoming, bright, and that is comfortable and customizable with dietary restrictions.”
The emphasis on local and organic ingredients was an important factor when conceptualizing the new restaurant, Kuda said. After more than a year of planning, the company chose South Lamar as the restaurant's location because of its “urban environment.” Kuda said choosing the location is what made the concept of High Note real for its creators.
“We were very thoughtful that this concept was operational and that we could replicate it,” Kuda said. “The food menu and atmosphere was also thought out. We wanted a place where people can dine at their own pace and are able to take their time.”
Registered dietitian Mollie Meldahl said she was surprised by the diversity of High Note’s menu and appreciated how it accommodated many different dietary restrictions.
“People are becoming more conscious about the quality of foods they are eating,” Meldahl said. “We are just now seeing the long-term health effects of the food choices we are making, and now more than ever people are stepping up and wanting a change in our food and restaurant system.”
Amy Nichols, nutritional sciences graduate student, said plant-based meals such as those offered at High Note provide many health benefits.
“Generally, plant-based diets are associated with longevity, reduced risk for some chronic diseases and are more environmentally sustainable,” Nichols said in an email. “Eating patterns that emphasize consumption of fruits and vegetables are beneficial, particularly if these food groups replace calorically dense and/or highly processed foods.”
While many of High Note’s menu options are healthier than those at Kerbey Lane, the plant-based dishes come at a higher price. For example, High Note’s vegetarian Edamole Toast costs $11, while Biscuits, Eggs & All-Natural Sausage at Kerbey Lane costs $8.99.
“When choosing vegetarianism, it’s important to plan ahead,” Nichols said. “Unfortunately, prepared vegetarian options or meat substitutes are often expensive and not as nutritious as their homemade counterparts. But, planning ahead can be simple and inexpensive if you know your options.”