Restaurant Radar: The SXSW Issue

The hottest new restaurants, and the plates and drinks you need to try this month.


Launderette:

A Mediterranean-Inspired Menu

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“The name is inspired by its location in East Austin on Holly Street, which was once home to a laundromat.”

On February 19th, Austin welcomed Launderette, one of the city’s most anticipated restaurants. The name is inspired by its location in East Austin on Holly Street, which was once home to a laundromat. Pastry chef Laura Sawicki and chef Rene Ortiz are in charge of the undertaking, and strayed away from their cuisines at La Condesa and Sway to create a Mediterranean-inspired menu for Launderette. The dimly lit yet bright space has a slightly modern diner feel, adorned with white walls, glossy sea-blue floors, and natural wood and plant detailing.

Open for dinner every day of the week, the menu has unique plates like toasted focaccia with whipped taleggio and mascarpone (topped with a five-minute egg, asparagus, radishes, black truffle dressing, and and thin-sliced bottarga), and a rosewater-pistachio parfait cream (with a mixed fruit citrus and fennel salad, candied pistachios, whipped Greek-yogurt, and a tahini-and-agave nectar powder). Enjoy a specialty cocktail at the full bar, grab a table with friends, or mingle at the spacious, covered patio.

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Photography: Hannah Vickers


Italic:

An Approachable Interpretation of Traditional Italian Cuisine

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“Chef Andrew Curren crafted a nostalgic menu reflecting his time in Italy.”

House-baked focaccia and a 100 percent Italian wine selection on tap are only a few of the beautiful things about Italic, ELM Restaurant Group’s (24 Diner, Easy Tiger, Arro) newest endeavor. Located in the Starr Building downtown on 6th and Colorado, the restaurant’s atmosphere pays homage to the building’s historic elements and iconic mid-century design with decorations like custom concrete walls and unusual 1950s Italian desks and credenzas.

Chef Andrew Curren crafted a nostalgic menu reflecting his time in Italy, but with a more fun, rustic, and approachable interpretation of traditional Italian cuisine. Along with their house-made pasta dishes, they also offer Italian-style pizza, Italian craft beer, and a simplified dessert menu with some not-so-simplified desserts from Pastry Chef Mary Catherine Curren, including a fruit crostata, a chocolate budino, and panna cotta and olive oil cakes.

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Counter 3 Five VII:

An Interactive Dining Experience

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“Every seat is certain to be ‘the best seat in the house.'”

Just as you think Austin couldn’t possibly get any more innovative when it comes to food, Counter 3. Five. VII opens its doors. Located in the heart of the city below Swift’s Attic on Congress, the fine-dining restaurant is an unconventional concept created by owner, operator, and Chef Eric Earthman, whose goal is to bring Austinites a new, interactive dining experience. The restaurant name is a creative hint at its tasting menu, which gives the option of a three, five or seven course meal. The atmosphere is made intimate and inviting with counter-only seating around the kitchen. Dishes are presented to diners by the chefs themselves, meaning every seat is certain to be “the best seat in the house.” Expect artistic, tasteful dishes made with produce from local farms, as well as ingredients the chefs grow themselves – made easy with the hydroponic growth system nestled in the back of the restaurant.

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Isla:

A Caribbean-Inspired Tiki Bar

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“Their tropical drinks and adventurous Caribbean food will make you feel like you just stepped off the plane – but in a more glamorous way.”

The folks that brought you Péché opened Isla on March 2nd, taking over the neighboring space that was once Pleasant Storage Room. Keeping the same spirit as the previous tenant, Isla is a Caribbean-inspired tiki bar aiming to bring “the lively atmosphere of Ernest Hemingway’s Cuba” to Austin’s warehouse district, according to their website. Although you’re not vacationing on the beach, their authentic tropical drinks and adventurous Caribbean food will make you feel like you just stepped off the plane – but in a way more glamorous way. Accompany your rum cocktail with dishes from Péché’s chef John Lichtenberger, including grilled octopus, ropa vieja with coconut rice, and a spicy seafood pepper pot.

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Gourdough’s:

A Classic, Warm, Pub-like Atmosphere

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“Their new brick and mortar location is downtown on West 5th.”

In case you can’t make it south to the Gourdough’s trailer or their original brick and mortar, you now have another opportunity to indulge in The Free Bird (cheesecake filling, cream cheese icing, graham cracker crumbles, strawberries and blackberries) or one of their notorious donut burgers, like the Gourdough’s Big Baller (angus beef, house pimento cheese blend, cilantro, red onion, and tomato). Their new brick and mortar location is downtown on West 5th and mirrors their usual warm, pub-like atmosphere. It’s also open late until 3 a.m. on the weekends, making it the perfect late night munchie stop. Be on the lookout for their awesome drink specials, which they tend to post on their Facebook page.


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Writing: Katie Brown
Photography: Hannah Vickers, Chris Perez

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