At last, we can put a name to that pretty face: Sway is La Condesa chef Rene Ortiz's new Thai restaurant at South First and Elizabeth Street, set to open "later this summer" according to a press release sent out this morning.
Since April 2011, Ortiz has been cruelly teasing us all about his unnamed "Thai restaurant," but now the details have arrived. The Sway menu is "inspired by the modern Australian style of Thai cooking," the space is designed by Michael Hsu and it features seating at "unique communal tables." Alternately, you can sit in the patio "spirit garden," complete with a mahogany Thai spirit house imported from Thailand, y'all.
La Condesa owner Jesse Herman and Ortiz have both spent time in Australia, where Thai food "is as ubiquitous as Mexican food in Texas," and developed the Sway concept over the past couple of years as La Condesa expanded. Ortiz's menu will include a "rose apple stir fry," and a "jungle curry," among other dishes detailed below.
The group's Food & Wine-pedigreed Pastry chef Laura Sawicki will also create the Sway desserts, including a "steamed yuzu pudding cake" including a "Sichuan pepper meringue." La Condesa mixologist Nate Wales will develop the beverage program, with Asian beers and Thai and Vietnamese coffees.
Special menus: there will be two "Chef's Tasting Menu" options each night, with seasonal specials, in addition to a "Moo Sway" menu, "a house special off-the-menu family-style feast of whole roast pork butt and oysters on the half-shell, with additional entrees and sides."
Sway will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week at 1417 South First Street. Here's the full press release with all the details:
SWAY OPENS IN AUSTIN MODERN THAI FOOD FROM AWARD-WINNING
LA CONDESA RESTAURANT TEAM
Austin, TX (July 31, 2012) — Owners Jesse Herman and Delfo Trombetta are pleased to announce the opening of Sway (meaning elevated, delicious), a modern Thai restaurant with South Austin flavor, located at 1417 South First Street in Austin (512.326.1999, www.swayaustin.com). Award-winning architect Michael Hsu collaborated with Herman to create an interpretation of a traditional northern Thai–style lanna house, set to open late summer.
"We've been developing this restaurant for a couple of years and are thrilled that it’s finally finished,” said Herman. “Delfo and I developed a passion for Thai food after living there and we came up with the concept during our partnership at La Condesa. Chef Rene and I had also both spent time separately in Australia—he was cooking and I was going to school—and we were both inspired by the modern Australian style of Thai cooking that we were exposed to while living there."
This is the first new concept for the group, which currently has two La Condesa restaurants in Austin and Napa Valley, along with a Los Angeles location opening in 2013. Executive chef and partner Rene Ortiz lived in Sydney, Australia—where Thai food is as ubiquitous as Mexican food in Texas—for years, working under world-renowned modern Thai chefs.
"We want this restaurant to be an innovative and exciting approach to Thai cuisine,” said Executive Chef Rene Ortiz. “The menu at Sway is going to be extremely bold in flavor and unique in design, and the space is going to be gracious and inviting to the community."
Sway’s design is modern, clean, and simple with an entirely open theater-style kitchen. The new restaurant is filled with unique communal tables to encourage family-style dining and sharing, with additional seating at counters that open to an outside garden, bar seating, and chef’s counter seating, where diners will have a front-row view of Chef Ortiz and his crew in the kitchen. Sway also offers patio seating with three large communal tables in the outdoor "spirit garden," which is overlooked by a traditional mahogany Thai spirit house imported from Thailand.
Chef Ortiz oversees a menu that blends traditional and innovative Thai techniques and ingredients, with most items under twenty dollars. Some of these include dishes such as Prawn Miange (toasted coconut, smokey peanuts, served on betel leaf); Jungle Curry (red curry of chicken with eggplant and French beans); Rose Apple Stir Fry (chicken with shiitake, holy basil, and red chili); Pad Kwetio (rice stick noodle with smoked chicken, prawn, and holy basil); and Tamarind Glazed Beef (caramelized onion, crispy garlic, lime, and green chili paste). Sway has a full menu with appetizers, soups, salads, stir-fries, curries, noodles, charcoal-grilled and crispy deep-fried entrees, exclusive market seafood salt-and-pepper menu, rice dishes, sides, and desserts.
Food & Wine’s “Best New Pastry Chef” Laura Sawicki will be at the helm for all of Sway’s desserts. Some of the inventive items include Frozen Miso White Chocolate Mousse (mango calamansi sorbet and sticky rice); Jasmine Tea Panna Cotta (lychee, grape, thai basil, cilantro, and coconut lychee sorbet); Steamed Yuzu Pudding Cake, (drunken berry, coconut, Sichuan pepper meringue, and avocado sorbet). She will also be offering a variety of house-made ice creams and sorbets with flavors like pandan leaf and milk chocolate 5-spice, and a family-style banana split.
"I'm excited about working with new fresh and dynamic flavors,” said Chef Sawicki. “The dessert menu is going to be playful and full of color.”
The restaurant will offer a wide variety of beverages curated by mixologist and Cocktail World Cup victor Nate Wales. The beverage menu will include Southeast Asian, East Asian, and local beers; wine; sake; kombucha; drinking vinegars; Thai and Vietnamese coffee and iced coffee; curated teas (white, black, green, tisane, and oolong varieties); and bottled and homemade sodas and juices.
Sway will feature two Chef’s Tasting Menu options nightly highlighting seasonal specials in addition to popular items. Sway will also feature a signature Moo Sway menu, a house special off-the-menu family-style feast of whole roast pork butt and oysters on the half-shell, with additional entrees and sides. This special menu is available for two 10-person seatings nightly by reservation only and must be reserved ahead of time.
Located in South Austin at 1417 South First Street, Sway will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week from 11AM to 10PM Sunday through Wednesday and 11AM to 11PM Thursday through Saturday. Sway accepts reservations for large parties only (8 or more), which can be made by calling 512.326.1999. For updates go to www.swayaustin.com, facebook.com/swaythai, and twitter.com/swaythai.
UPDATE: A super sleuth reader sends in a link to what appears to be the Sway preliminary menu. Here's hoping they don't change the Pok Pok Som drinking vinegars and remarkably appealing price points.
UPDATE UPDATE: The menu sneak peek has been removed, alas. Hope y'all looked fast.
Rene Ortiz. [Photo: La Condesa]