By Karen Spezia
In 2012, I reviewed an upstart little restaurant called Lenoir. I liked it a lot. Back then, lots of buzz swirled around its young, married chef/owners who had the chutzpah to leave the Four Seasons and Dai Due to strike out on an ungentrified stretch of South First Street. But the couple was confident, young and talented. And successful.
Fast forward four years and I’m just as smitten with Lenoir as I was back then. Its interior is still a romantically funky mix of scrap wood, lace curtains and throwback lighting. Its wine program is still one of the most inventive around. And its delicious three course pre-fixe menu remains one of the best deals in town.
But that doesn’t mean chef/owners Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher have remained stagnant. They’ve added an outdoor wine garden serving drinks and nibbles. And opened an adjacent kitchen supply store, Metier, which specializes in hard-to-find culinary treasures. They’ve even found time to expand their family to include a second child.
On a recent visit, we started in the wine garden, a hidden oasis canopied by trees and illuminated by candlelight. Heat lamps and Mexican saddle blankets were scattered about to ward off the crisp night air. The outdoor menu is small but interesting, offering small bites, wines by the bottle, and beer and cider by the glass. We opted for a bottle of refreshing, slightly fizzy Spanish Rezabal Txakolini rosé and an order of hot, crunchy cornmeal hush puppies filled with chopped oysters and pecans. Even my hush puppy-averse husband cleaned his plate.
Then we moved inside to Lenoir’s cozy bohemian chic dining room. The three-course pre-fixe menu evolves seasonally, and always surprises with its eclectic global flavors sourced from mostly Texas products. I began with a toothsome salad of miso-infused carrots, radishes and turnips atop of smear of creamy Greek labneh yogurt. My husband dug into deliciously tender ravioli, stuffed with Jamaican jerk-seasoned ricotta and topped with two gremolata sauces.
Next came redfish, poached in flavorful pork fat and served with African-spiced cauliflower, and followed by sliced lemongrass venison tucked inside a beet-red Indian dosa crepe. To round out the meal, we ordered Korean-spiced pork terrine surrounded in spiced broth, shallots and fennel kimchi. For dessert, a decadent brown butter sponge cake arrived with a dollop of homemade Camembert ice cream.
Like its menu, Lenoir rotates its wine selections frequently. Sommelier Chris Kelly, one of the most personable and knowledgeable in town, steered us towards fun and tasty pairings like a versatile white Telusiano Trebbiano and a unique Austrian red Moric Blaufränkisch. With dessert, we marveled at our glass of rich, complex French Ganevat Macvin.
In the four years since Lenoir opened, Austin has seen a flood of creative farm-to-table competitors. And while many are very good, few have the extraordinary charm, soul and flavors of Lenoir. It was one of the first and it’s still one of the best.
by Joanna Steblay
As the warm weather begins to set in and patio parties hit our calendars, we can’t help but embrace that summertime has returned to Austin. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be celebrating the return of the season with decadent ice cream, healthy smoothies and icy cocktails from your favorite local spots.
For those days when it’s too hot to venture out, we went to Austin’s sweet treat professionals and compiled the ultimate collection of DIY recipes to make from your home. Click through the galleries below to learn how to make everything icy and sweet, from poptails for date night to ice cream sandwiches for a dinner party.more
The spring edition of the Renegade Craft Fair returns for its seventh year in Austin May 14-15 at Fair Market. With over 125 makers on the roster, the scene is sure to be bustling with local artisans and DIYers slinging their unique, one-of-a-kind wares. In addition to great shopping, the RCF offers activities, special showcases and plenty of food and drink options for visitors. This year, celebrate your hard work shopping with a snack from Burro Cheese Kitchen and Lucky Lab Coffee Co. before commemorating the afternoon with some snapshots from Magnolia Photo Booth Co. But before...more
by James Ruiz
Inspired by the beautiful outdoor living spaces featured in our May feature The Space Between, we went window shopping and found some great outdoor furniture and accessories to liven up your outdoor patio, porch and pool. Flip through the galleries below to see how you can add a pop of color and style to your outdoor hideaway.more
Hundreds of people are moving to Austin each day, and downtown is one of the major hubs of growth for the city. Local real estate expert Jude Galligan discusses smart urban growth and what to expect this year as the skyline continues to evolve.
Your blog keeps Austin updated on the latest news in downtown. What is the most exciting development happening right now?
From my point of view, the most exciting development is the Waller Creek District Master Plan. Decades in the making, this transformative project came to life after designers competed for the contract. It is finally coming to downtown, bringing an imaginative chain of parks,...more
by James Ruiz
As you flip through the pages of our February Love Issue, one thing you’ll notice is the beautiful blooms that pop up throughout the magazine. We got some major googly eyes for the bouquets featured in our "Real Weddings" features, and earmarked the TRIBEZA Wedding Guide for even more Pinterest-worthy petals.
Instead of letting all that inspiration go to waste, we tried our hand at flower arranging to see what we could create. Since we consider ourselves floral design novices, we asked a few top designers...more