The shuttering of Congress, the downtown fine dining restaurant from chef David Bull, in late 2015 marked the beginning of the end of Austin’s higher end establishments. (Soon after, LaV, Arro, and Gardner quickly followed suit.) However, La Corsha Group, the restaurant’s parent company, decided to hold onto the space, and instead extend next-door sibling spot Second Bar + Kitchen into the vacated address.
After a year of renovations, say hello to Congress Hall, Second Bar’s new event space, which is now open. It also works as an extension of the restaurant during busier days and evenings, say like weekend brunches and SXSW.
This also means that Bar Congress, the lauded cocktail bar tucked between the former Congress and Second Bar, is no longer as well. Replacing beverage director and mixologist Jason Stevens’ playground is Second Bar (not to be confused with the restaurant proper). Unlike its predecessor, it offers actual dining rooms and the full menu.
“Based on the high demand that we had for Second Bar and Kitchen,” explained Bull, and the fact that its sole event space, the Green Room, is weather-dependent, they decided to “take our fine dining restaurant and turn it into an event space.”
With the help of Sara Cukerbaum of Slic Interiors, Congress Hall continues the look and feel of its sibling spot with similar color schemes and design elements. It opened up the previous space. Bull appreciated that people can “see and feel it from the street.”
Next up on La Corsha’s docket are Second Bar’s airport location, where the menu will feature the restaurant’s most popular dishes (opening sometime in late March or early April); the revamping of iconic Green Pastures; the Stagecoach Inn in Salado, Texas; and the East Austin Hotel.