Swift's Attic, the much-anticipated new downtown small plates restaurant from executive chef Mat Clouser and right-hand man Zack Northcutt, will begin reservation-only service during their soft opening tonight, and they've invited to public to participate.
"We will be inviting the entire community to come and be a part of our soft opening, to help us develop the concept and refine our service before we officially open," Clouser tells Eater Austin via e-mail, and they'll be offering their small plates menu--"similar in style to Tapas, or an Izakaya, but without being beholden to any one style"--at 50% off as compensation "for everyone's patience and honest opinions."
Clouser also told Eater more about his vision for the restaurant, which he says will be "unique and luxurious," but "without much of the pomp and circumstance of a more traditional dining experience."
Clouser says the restaurant, which is located above the Elephant Room in the Swift Building at 315 Congress, "essentially named itself."
"Built in 1905, it used to house the Swift Brother's meat packing facilities, due to its close proximity to the old Railroad station. We found a number of striking, original features after we finished the demolition process, and we have certainly made a point to reveal them further in an effort to put an emphasis on showing off the old building's bones & charm. The interior design was done by Leslie Fossler and her team at LFI."As for the food, Clouser says they're going for an intimate, homey feel:
"Our goal is to have a relaxed, ebullient atmosphere, to put people at ease, and to offer food, drink, and service with the same warmth and pace that we would at our own homes- plates coming and going, chatting, drinking, laughing, etc. The food is highly comprised of dishes that reflect my own idiosyncrasies, and there are many nods to my former employers, family, and mentors. I think it's going to have wide appeal, and it is both challenging and approachable at the same time-a real cook's kind of a menu. I am proud to present it, and honestly feel it is a sound reflection of who I am as a man and chef."Swift's will use "a wide variety of local and sustainable ingredients" and also serve "a number of vegetarian, seafood, off-cuts (cheeks, tails, etc,) and wild game dishes." Price-wise, Clouser says patrons can expect to run "from $4-$20 at the absolute maximum," and they'll start serving lunch at the end of the month with more traditional platings, "built to be more suitable for the business people downtown."
As for the booze, Clouser says they'll pour "exciting/irreverent cocktails" plus 14 local and craft beers on draft, with "many more by the bottle." Sommelier Sam Hovland of the Headliners Club and East End Wines curated their wine list, which Clouser describes as "very sexy" and "modestly priced."
In the kitchen, Clouser's got Zack Northcutt (formerly of Mulberry and Haddington's) along with pastry chef Callie Speer (wife to acclaimed pastryman Philip Speer) as well as "many cooks from some of Austin's top restaurants," such as Jeffrey's and Foreign & Domestic. Clouser calls his team "truly a righteous group."
Call 48-ATTIC to make reservations during their soft-opening, available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
UPDATE! Mat Clouser just commented to say: "Overwhelming interest thus far! You guys are great! Phones are crashing! Maybe firstname.lastname@example.org is a kinder, gentler way to make a reservation. Thanks for your patience!"
Zack Northcutt and Mat Clouser in their "situation room." [Photo: Swift's Attic/Official]