This week, Austin critics are fawning over Lenoir, Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher's teeny-tiny South First restaurant serving ever-changing global fare developed by the TRIO and Dai Due alums. From Maher's pastry prowess ("Heavenly!") to the atmosphere ("Clean, inspired and romantic") to the food ("transportive"), Lenoir's seduction is complete.
The Austin American-Statesman's Matthew Odam gives it a highly respectable nine of ten stars:
The design and food at the restaurant have a calming sense of home but conjure a sense of adventure and the fantastical. Gulf shrimp has hints of okra that sing of Africa as well as Louisiana; a simple cheese plate at dessert has a full passport, with stamps from Sardinia (fiore sardo cheese) and Morocco (the Christmas spice mixture ras el hanout) and familiar candied oranges from Texas; fried Gulf oysters bathe in a complex and nutty Asian-inspired dashi broth. The food is both "here" and "there."The Austin Chronicle's Claudia Alarcon is less erudite but no less enthusiastic.
There are so many reasons why I'm in love with Lenoir: The chefs' meticulous selection of local ingredients and seasonal produce combined with ingredients previously unknown to me keep the menus fresh and exciting.Alarcon notes that the chef-owners are expanding in the backyard area, transforming it into a "Spanish-themed alfresco space," at which point, she writes, "I don't think I'll ever leave."
· On South First Street, A Culinary Passport [Austin360]
· Lenoir dazzles with a French spin on 'hot-weather cuisine' [Austin Chronicle]
[Photo: Andrea Grimes/EATX]