New Provencal-inspired restaurant LaV was one of winter's most anticipated openings, and the restaurant joins Paul Qui's Qui as one of the few fine dining restaurants east of I-35. Managing partner Vilma Mazaite crafted one of Austin's most extensive wine lists; executive chef Allison Jenkins and executive pastry chef Janina O'Leary serve menus of updated French classics.
Some early reviewers are charmed by the restaurant's elegant atmosphere and refined take on French cuisine; others have experienced reservation headaches and think some of the wine list's pricier bottles are out of step with the neighborhood.
The FANCY News: Yelper Elizabeth G. files one of the earliest reports: "Really exceptional food, especially given that they just opened. This is a FANCY restaurant for Austin and especially fancy for the east side. That being said I think they'll do well if they keep up this quality of cooking and service. Order all of the small plates and you won't be disappointed." [Yelp]
The SXSW News: Out of town Yelper Ann A. enjoyed LaV during SXSW. "It is rare to find a restaurant so well prepared for opening week. From our lovely server to the advice of the sommellier service was friendly, professional, and attentive. As what you expect in Texas, great hospitality. Not only was the service five stars, each dish we was delectable. We were delighted to find this restaurant by chance and left content and very happy with our experience. [Yelp]
The Bathroom Report: Facebook reviewer Ryan T. Mortenson has an overall positive experience, with this note on the bathroom set-up: "Bathroom. Theres only one bathroom for such large restaurant, but to get to the bathroom you have go through hanging beads, like in the 70's. It's kinda fun, but on the way out of the bathroom leaving through the hanging beads it makes a lot of noise, so people will turn around and look at you as you come out of the bathroom area. I give that a negative, but others might want to be seen and draw attention to them, so others might find that a positive." [Facebook]
The Long Wait News: Yelper Steve R. faced a long wait for his reservation. "Eventually, after an HOUR AND A HALF past our reservation, they squeezed two small round tables together in the bar area and seated us with no apology. We then tried to order but found they were out of the two main entrees we wanted. Normally, not a big deal but when there are only 5 or six on the menu, it is an issue. And, then, they were out of one of the small plates we tried to order." [Yelp]
The Longer Wait Report: Yelper Rob C. also ran into trouble try to get a table. "Early in the week, I attempted to make an on-line reservation for 6 on a Thursday. Sign-in process didn't work. Next, called and got a very helpful gal who commented that indeed people had trouble with online reservations. Ok - growing pains. Any tables available? "No, however you can walk in and wait - most of our tables are reserved for walkins anyway". Ok. Show up at 7:20. Sit and spend $300 on champagne, cheese, charcuterie, cocktails, beer over the next 2 hours. Manager shows up apologizing that our table is still occupied but on dessert. I mention that several people without reservations were seated ahead of us - granted smaller parties of 4 or smaller. Her reply 'some people with reservations have been waiting for 4 hours'" [Yelp]
The Wine News: Yelper Paul S. enjoyed the raviolo and bouillabasse but found the wine list pricy. "We struggled to find a bottle under $200. I even requested the sommelier make a suggestion, the best she could do was a $250 bottle. I explained that this was just a regular Saturday evening meal, not celebrating some life changing event (wedding, graduation etc)." The restaurant does have a number of wines under $100 listed at this time. [Yelp]
The Best Meal Ever News: Yelper Christina A. had nothing but positive things to say about her experience. "This was probably the best meal I've had in Austin in the last year. I wanted to get down on my knees and propose to this restaurant. I'm in love with the decor, the cushy bench seats, the art, the lovely music, the servers, the menu, the wine, the cocktails, the manager, the restrooms, the valet parking, the cute giveaway wooden pens (sort of like a party favor), and especially the food. Okay, I was a little high on the Leviathan (don't you love that name?) wine but other than that, this is a beautiful and extraordinary restaurant." [Yelp]
The Decor News: Blogger Joie de Vivre was really, really into the restaurant's look: " Not only is the Provence-inspired cuisine delightful, but the decor is drop-dead gorgeous…like a chic, modern-yet rustic French château. It was Restoration Hardware heaven in there, dotted with bottles of choice wine, bunches of lavender, and decadent shades of grey. I would love it if I could mimic the look of this restaurant in my own home…that's how much I loved the atmosphere. I'll need to go back for dinner, but this fab French restaurant just might be my new favorite dining house in all of Austin!" [Joie de Vivre]
The Gentrification News: Yelper Niccolo G. calls LaV "everything that there is to fear and loathe about 'New" Austin.' " "The wine list was completely presumptuous and illogical. Do you really expect your dinner guests to be crammed at a bar, served a bar menu and drop $300-6000 on a bottle of wine? Physically and symbolically, the restaurant turns its back to the neighborhood, as if trying to gentrify the hipster gentrifiers and utterly failing in the process. You are offering $4,000 bottles of wine in a poor Austin neighborhood - how exactly do you justify that?" [Yelp]
The Detailed Good Food News: Cathy of Forks Up says the food takes "center stage" at LaV. Her first look: "We started the Chicken Liver Pâté with toasted bread, house mustard and cornichons. The pâté was very fine and smooth, filled with flavorful nuances. Next we split the Salad of Bluebonnet Leaf Farm lettuces with shaved spring vegetables and lemon vinaigrette. This generous salad worked well for two and had a really nice dressing that was light enough to allow the ingredients to shine, but still lent a brightness to the dish. Shaved carrots, and perhaps even fennel, brought a spring-like freshness. My entree was the Pan Roasted Massachusetts Cod with beluga lentils and warm beet vinaigrette. Very simple and delicate with great texture from the lentils and an earthy note from the beet vinaigrette. My husband ordered the Wood Oven Bouillabaisse with squid, clams, blue prawn and rouille; a favorite of our server. No words can describe the fragrant and multi-layered broth that is the center of this dish. It was a showstopper with very generous pieces of assorted seafood. With our entrees we had a side of Grilled Brussels Sprouts that were skewered and served with a chili sauce. Perfectly cooked with a mild hit of chili." [Forks Up]
· All LaV Coverage [EATX]
· All Good News/Bad News [EATX]