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Critics Say Launderette Sparkles; Mongers Is a Mixed Bag

Meanwhile, Mike Sutter is drowning in tacos.

Robert J. Lerma/EATX

The Statesman’s Matthew Odom goes long on "Merry Prankster" Rene Ortiz’s popular new eastside joint, Launderette, couched in the metaphor of a house party. He loves how Ortiz plays deep when it comes to spices, and appreciates the eccentricity of the menu, a reflection of the chef himself:

[T]he cheekily named "Snacky Bits" section of the menu […] is headlined by Middle Eastern-influenced labneh and beet hummus ($8). The excellent dish shocks the palate to attention. Earthy crimson beet hummus balances tart, dense yogurt in a dish scattered with cubes of pickled golden beets, sweet raisins, the crunch of pine nuts and the refreshing salve of mint.

Odom goes on to praise Ortiz’s culinary partner, pastry chef Laura Sawicki, for her mastery of the ice cream arts, as well as how her desserts complement Ortiz’s "eclectic New American" vision:

She hybridizes a few ideas with a fluffy and flaky take on apple pie ($9) laced with angular cuts of cheddar cheese on a plate made sticky with salted beer caramel. It’s at once an apples-and-cheese plate and a caramelized apple, and the unexpected sage ice cream on top is proof that nobody in town bests her in the ice cream game.

Meanwhile, the always droll Brandon Watson at The Chronicle lays it all on the line at the outset of his review of Mongers Market + Kitchen. He declaring, "this will be a mixed review, although I am not sure ‘mixed’ is a distinction that matters in hospitality." The seafood restaurant charms Watson with its "cottage-y nautical" design aesthetic, and he appreciates the way chef Shane Stark evokes the Gulf:

Tangy Alabama fried green tomatoes shine in a greaseless crab cake "sammy." "Angels on Horseback" gussies up the family reunion staple, and are perhaps the best distillation of Stark's voice. It's a smart deconstruction too – the oysters are breaded in cornmeal, a pork rillette stands in for bacon, and pecan crème fraîche is drizzled on the whole shebang – but it's still cozy.

Sadly, Watson also experienced overcooked seafood and mussels that caused him to do an unfortunate-yet-discreet gag-and-spit, so order accordingly.

THE BLOGS: The Hungry Chronicles enjoyed a comprehensive (and comped) meal at newly opened Alcomar; Mike Sutter got his taco on at Taquerias Arandas, Whataburger, Hi Hat PublicHouse, Serranos, Takoba, Hooked Up Tacos, and Benji’s Cantina; and South Austin Foodie enjoyed the artistic vibe at Prelog’s European Kitchen.

— Melanie Haupt


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