New Provencal-inspired restaurant laV unveils a fine dining atmosphere on East 7th today. Behind the project are sommelier and managing partner Vilma Mazaite, executive chef Allison Jenkins, and executive pastry Janina O'Leary.
Eater has an exclusive first look at their dinner menu, which features updated classics like a wood oven bouillabaisse and a tarte tartin. The restaurant will also be serving brunch on Sundays. Hours are Tuesday - Saturday 5 p.m. to close and Sunday 11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. The curious can check out their full opening press release below, which goes deep on the restaurant's food, design, and future plans (a kitchen garden, movie screenings).
laV Restaurant & Wine Bar Opens to the Public, Thursday March 6th
Exuding the charm of the French countryside, laV combines a rustic yet refined menu, world- class wine and an exceptional setting created by highly acclaimed design team
March 5, 2014 (Austin, TX) – The much-anticipated completion of East Austin dining destination, laV Restaurant & Wine Bar, is here and with great excitement owners Ralph and Lisa Eads, along with the entire laV team, announce it's opening. laV is now accepting reservations and walk-ins for its Tuesday through Saturday dinner service, as well as Sunday brunch. Situated conveniently close to downtown and the rest of Austin's expanding east-side, laV is located at 1501 East 7th Street, across from the state cemetery
Inspired by Provence, laV's warm and welcoming ambiance provides the perfect canvas for contemporary interpretations of classic dishes which emphasize the ingredients of the season. The robust wine program offers extensive wine by the glass options and an expansive, French-focused list, with something for every palate.
"This restaurant is not the product of a detailed business plan but rather based on the thought that if we built a beautiful restaurant, attracted really caring, service oriented people and offered truly great food and wine at fair prices, then people would come," said owner Ralph Eads. "Our field of dreams actually started as a modest wine bar in east Austin, but once we recruited Vilma Mazaite and Allison Jenkins we realized that we could aspire to be a seriously good restaurant. Add into the mix the award-winning design team, and we believe we've created something special."
Sommelier Vilma Mazaite, the restaurant's Managing Partner, brings an incredible range of experience to laV. Born in Lithuania, she immigrated to America in 2001 and in 14 short years has established herself as a force in the restaurant industry. Starting at entry level positions, she has worked in positions of increasing authority at some of the best restaurants in America including Michael Mina's Las Vegas restaurant, Steve Kalt's Corsa Cucina, Paul Bartolotta's group, Mario Batali's Babbo and The Little Nell in Aspen.
"We wanted to create a place where you can dine every day," Mazaite said. "No tablecloths, a simple menu and great service; a place where you can order roast chicken- basic country food – and have a great bottle of wine in an enchanting place. It's the unexpected: putting a little magic into a simple dining experience."
Rounding out the female–helmed culinary and management team is Executive Chef Allison Jenkins and Executive Pastry Chef Janina O'Leary, both Texas natives. By combining their incomparable pedigrees and resounding skills, they've created menus that promise a food and wine experience unlike any in the area.
FOOD & WINE
Chef Jenkins, who previously served as Executive Chef at the acclaimed Ajax Tavern in Aspen, presents a menu of simple dishes done really well. Her menu will change often, based upon the season and chef's persistent desire to challenge herself and guests.
Highlights from the menu include small plates such as veal two ways with check & sweetbreads with mustard spaetzle & shaved brussels; and hand cut pappardelle with lamb sausage, walnut butter and roasted grapes and entrees including wood oven bouillabaisse with squid, clams, tile fish and rouille; grilled lamb t-bones with brown butter turnip puree and olive jus; and the chicken for two, roasted in the wood oven served with crispy potatoes and pan jus. Brunch will feature both small and large plates including baked robiola with fig compote and walnut toast; wood oven baked eggs, mushroom ragout and toast; spaghetti carbonara with farm egg, house guanciale and black pepper; and a grassfed lamb burger with harissa, watercress, pickled onion on toasted ciabatta. Chef's signature sweet potato doughnut holes will also be served at brunch alongside Chef O'Leary's much-admired brioche doughnut holes.
The pastry and bread program is under direction of Chef Janina O'Leary, a 2013 James Beard Semi-Finalist, who began her culinary career at the age of 15 and before the age of 21 had worked for greats including Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Pichet Ong. O'Leary's opening menu incorporates a balance of savory and sweet including: olive oil and berry clafoutis with banyans caramel ice cream and salted caramel; meyer lemon cream with mascarpone and maldon salt shortbread; "café au lait" éclair with palmier ice cream; chocolate delice with honey lavender ice cream and cocoa nib; warm brioche doughnuts with baileys fudge sauce and vanilla bean pastry cream; as well as an assiette du fromage served with house made preserves and crackers.
Serving as its central vein of laV is its wine program. Carefully crafted and curated by Mazaite and owner Eads, the list is comprised of over 7000 bottles and 1200 labels. "We've selected compelling wines from producers we know, everything from the inexpensive jewels to rare, legendary bottles," Mazaite commented. "Over time we hope to have one of the best wine programs in America."
The breadth of the list will offer something for every palate and price range ($30 to $500+). laV will feature over 20 wines by the glass, which have been thoughtfully assembled by the wine team. The list encompasses multiple wines from the best white and red Burgundy producers including Leroy, Dujac, Roumier, Ramonet, LeFlaive, Comte de Vogue and Ghiland. The Bordeaux cellar holds several vintages from all the first growths including such legendary years as 1945, 1961 and 1982. The portfolio contains selections from other favorite producers such as Leoville las Cases, La Mission Haut Brion, Leoville Barton, Terte Roteboeuf and Clos Dubreuil. The list has significant depth in California cabernets including older vintages from Beringer, Chateau Montelena, and Silver Oak.
Beyond the wine and the food, there's the design. Renowned firms McAlpine Tankersley Architecture and McAlpine Booth & Ferrier Interiors, and more specifically the firms' principals Bobby McAlpine and Susan Ferrier, were brought on to helm the project. The firms have both been included in Elle Décor's A-List and Architectural Digest's AD100, with McAlpine Tankersley Architecture receiving its second nod (in a row) on that prestigious list again in 2014. Known for collaborating on amazing residential projects, they put their collective experience designing homes to good use to execute a restaurant built from the ground up.
"The odd thing is that I am a residential architect, so I welcomed this opportunity with open arms. I am not known for hospitality projects but I live and breathe intimate environment and my consciousness is geared toward what makes memorable spaces and moments for people," said Bobby McAlpine. He continued, "I like to hit both ends of the pendulum in all things, the far left and far right. I like to be as intimate as grand, where there's enough theater at play, enough drama and also enough tenderness in the subtly of the textures and the coloration so those nuances are not in the middle, they're in the extremes. I think we hit all those marks with this project."
The brick exterior houses large custom steel windows and doors was designed to fit into the district, a warehouse space from the 1920's that was painted to hide its age and ware. The details of the outside are humble and simple with the interior's more extreme measures giving the space a sense of home. Upon entering guests will pass an antique fountain flanked by pergola seating and stone tables that look out onto a large Provencal–inspired garden.
"laV, like its signature lavender field painting, is a pastoral backdrop to enjoy time with food and friends. We designed the restaurant with the experience of the diner in mind" said McAlpine Tankersley partner and project architect, David Baker. "From functionality of the space – the restaurant has eight corners which are the perfect spots for nestling into – to the aesthetic, we wanted people to feel comfortable and at home."
The interior is comprised of four individual areas, each with their own spirit: the tasting room, bar & lounge, dining room and wine cellar. Overall, the restaurant will seat 146, though the type of experience for guests will vary greatly depending on where they choose to nestle in for the evening. The rooms graduate from "social for strangers" with places for communal dining and become more intimate as you move back further into the space.
"One of things that stands out when I dine, in terms of restaurant design, is that you can't hear the person you are dining with but you can hear every other conversation happening in the restaurant" said interior designer, Susan Ferrier. "I was ever mindful of putting materials and objects in the restaurant to absorb sound so the dining experience can be very intimate, the gestures of the drapery, the fabric banquets, anytime we could use something to absorb rather than reflected we took the opportunity there. I like the idea that laV feels a little more introverted rather than extraverted so intimacy can actually happen." She goes on to add "It's always important when you have a space receiving a great deal of happy activity that you use grand gestures that sweep around the room to calm the space. The banquets wrap the room almost hugging the people within it is the grandest gesture; the size of the art is another gesture that unifies the space. The people will ultimately create the activity, so the large gestures help to exude an essence of calm in an otherwise busy restaurant."
Moving forward, the team will continue to build out of its lush outdoor garden: jardins de laV. The space will provide some bounty and herbs for the kitchen and also serve as a true urban escape. The space will be used for private events and eventually to host live performances and spring and summer time movie screenings.
· All laV Coverage [EATX]