Taste Summer: Nova

Amidst the construction now dominating the northern strip of the Rainey Street district sits a modern two-story structure with the words “NO VA” glowing in white neon above its entry door.

The interior is part Scandinavian and part Mad Men – warm and pulled together like a scarf under a wool blazer. Were Don Draper to walk in, he’d likely take off his hat and order a whiskey cocktail while glancing up at the ceiling-mounted brass pendant lights. You should do the same.

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The drinks here are treated with the same attention to detail as the buildout – as they are measured with silver jiggers from Japan and poured through solid brass Julep strainers. Each one is refined and sophisticated.

The food at No Va takes on the personality of Midwest-raised executive chef Brad Sorenson: approachable and easy to get along with. The mac and cheese, the ultimate in comfort food, is easily the most popular dish with the restaurant now having sold over 1000 lbs of what was introduced as a mere side.

The chef is eager to flex his culinary muscle, however, and even the bar menu boasts dishes like braised short rib pizzas, grilled asparagus tacos with fresno chiles, and pork tacos with a mole sauce that Sorenson makes from scratch – melding over 29 ingredients in a steaming pot for hours.

Though the restaurant walks with distinction due to its style, No Va finds its place along Rainey through the service of its Austin pedigree.

Here’s how to enjoy a taste of summer on the white tabletops of the restaurant’s patio…

START WITH COCKTAILS

POTEET 3 RUM DAIQUIRI (three rums / strawberry shrubb / lime juice)

POTEET 3 RUM DAIQUIRI (three rums / strawberry shrubb / lime juice)

ROCK & RYE (rittenhouse 100 rye / winter spice / citrus / rock candy)

ROCK & RYE (rittenhouse 100 rye / winter spice / citrus / rock candy)

SOUTH TEXAS MORNING (reposado tequila, house sangria, chamomile salt)

SOUTH TEXAS MORNING (reposado tequila, house sangria, chamomile salt)

TRY THE BAR MENU

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Clockwise from left: MAC & CHEESE (with braised pork belly and soft cooked egg), GRILLED PIZZA (kale pesto / poached potato / hot sauce), MAC & CHEESE (local pasta / cheddar sauce / bread crumb), GRILLED PIZZA (braised short rib / caramelized onions / braised greens)

Clockwise from left: MAC & CHEESE (with braised pork belly and soft cooked egg), GRILLED PIZZA (kale pesto / poached potato / hot sauce), MAC & CHEESE (local pasta / cheddar sauce / bread crumb), GRILLED PIZZA (braised short rib / caramelized onions / braised greens)

TASTE SUMMER

TACOS (pork mole / cotija cheese / pickled onions / cilantro)

TACOS top left – (pork mole / cotija cheese / pickled onions / cilantro), bottom right – (grilled asparagus / marinated fresno chiles / parmesan / lemon aioli)


No Va

87 Rainey St
Austin, TX 78701
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Photography by Michelle Min


This article originally published in The Balance Issue of Citygram Austin Magazine [May/June 2014].
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