Austin’s mega-popular restaurants Odd Duck and Barley Swine’s new, much more casual sister restaurant has finally arrived. Sour Duck Market (1814 East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) is now open as of Saturday, May 5, revealing its neighborhood bakery, cafe, bar, and market. (It’s very much in the same vein as San Francisco’s Tartine Manufactory and Los Angeles’ Gjusta.). The central east Austin restaurant is open to the public, though under limited service and hours for now; check its Instagram for updates.
The Odd Duck group has come a long way from its food truck days back in 2009, growing to now-three restaurants. For diners, Sour Duck is the everyday answer to Odd Duck’s several-times-a-month options and Barley Swine’s more special-occasion category.
“You can experience the same craftsmanship and sourcing,” chef/partner Mark Buley said, while “showing that it’s possible to buy local food and cook it at any market level. A lot of the identity of this business comes from who we’ve had working with us in the past, and where their strengths are. That steers the ship,” from staff to farms to ranches.
He continued, “Let’s build a bakery that does what the farmers and millers are doing. Let’s build a smokehouse that does what the ranchers, marketplace, and farmers markets are selling.”
Count Sour Duck as the latest addition to the all-day restaurant trend that’s blowing up in Austin. There’s Better Half (the new restaurant from the team behind coffee/beer shop Wright Bros Brew & Brew) and Hank’s (the new spot from the owners of gone-forever Henri’s Cheese & Wine). Olamaie chef Michael is even opening a casual diner and bakery down in south Austin sometime in 2019.
The Need for Sour Duck Market
Sour Duck will serve as the home base for all operations: the office is above the building that houses the bar.
Buley says the new restaurant and market was born out of a need for growth for the Odd Duck and Barley Swine team. While in the utilitarian sense, it essentially serves as a mega-large commissary kitchen serving its sibling counterparts, it’s housed in an inviting and beautiful restaurant. This allows everyone to dive deeper into all the programs they have in-house: bread, smoked meats, cocktails.
“All great restaurants are manifestations of their place and time,” said Buley. He continued, “What purer manifestation of place than heirloom grains that only grew here?”
To that effect, Sour will sell local retail goods, like Barton Springs Mill’s flours, olive oil, honey, and coffee. “You can bring items home and contribute greater to the local economy while having stuff that’s very authentic,” said Buley. There might be farmers markets held on the premises in the future too.
Sour Duck consists of two buildings: the main front building and the back bar one. Connecting the two spaces is the beer and cocktail garden. Everything was designed by Hubnik Architecture.
To order at Sour Duck, enter the main building and wait in line for the counter, where loaves of bread and baked goods are on display. Here you can order food and limited drinks like kombucha and beer along with coffee made with Cuvee beans and soft-serve ice cream that’s made on the premises. While there is a limited beer menu available here, if you want a cocktail, you’ll need to go to the next building over for that.
This main building features 20 bar and counter seats, meant to give customers a quick spot to eat and dash. It also houses the giant kitchen and bakery production area. The latter is visible from the outside through windows.
Then there’s the expansive outdoor area, full of picnic tables and a shaded area. Here, the idea, as Sour Duck partner Jason James described, is that there is “counter- and cocktail-service combined,” which means people who take seats can add onto their orders via staffers roaming the grounds.
The back bar building with garage doors features 23 taps flowing with draft cocktails, wines, and beer. Inside, there’s a television screen, air-conditioning, tables, and bar seating.
Sour Duck also features details from the rest of the restaurant family. The colors of the buildings — muted oranges and greens with white trim — are pulled from the old Odd Duck trailer sign. Old picnic tables from the trailer days line the shaded patio. Out in the bar building, there are chairs and tabletops from the shuttered Fork & Vine, inherited from Bryce’s father Jack Gilmore (the chef turned the North Shoal Creek restaurant into another location of Jack Allen’s Kitchen). The interior sidings of this building were made with wood from the demolished structure that used to house Joe’s Spot and Connie’s Beer Garden on the property.
As a fast-casual restaurant, Sour Duck will, well, operate as quickly and efficiently as possible — from service to food to drinks. The initial food menu, which will remain mostly the same throughout the day and evening, is limited for now as the kitchen gets its bearings.
Down the line, the smoker will cook whole chickens, sausages, shrimp, goat necks, and more. It’ll also pump out some sandwich options like pork belly, goat chorizo, smoked shrimp salad, a version of the famous Odd Duck burger, pickled chicken, and egg pimento salad layered with potato chips, among others. There will be just a few dishes that are exclusive to certain meal periods. In the mornings, expect breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, hashes, and the sort.
Brian Cortes, who started out as a line cook at Odd Duck and transitioned into butchery, will oversee Sour’s meat department, which will emphasize whole animal work.
Cortes’ main domain will be the outdoor smokehouse trailer that contains a 1,000-gallon custom smoker built by Texas Oven Co. Gilmore joked that the reason he added the smoker is because “I keep hearing about all of these barbecue places that people like to go to.”
As with the rest of the restaurant, the smokehouse is all about efficiency. “You can cook a lot of meat in one shot,” Gilmore said.
Cocktails take the “easy hangout drinks” route, featuring all spirits according to James, who oversees the liquids program, from vodka to whiskey. Of the draft cocktails, there will be frozen margaritas with seasonal swirl-in flavors (think jalapenos and melons), and some familiar Odd Duck drinks like the cucumber Moscow Mule, Cory’s Coffee, and a take on the Hemingway daiquiri with dewberries. Look for bottled cocktails down the line.
The Pastries and Bread
The pastry department has a new pastry chef with Erica Waksmunski. As indicated by the recent bake sale, pastries will include croissants (chocolate, ham and cheese), blondies, cookies (chocolate chip, sugar), kolaches, rye pies, and more. Everything will range from about $1.50 to $4. She was previously with Parkside Projects but left in January 2017. She also ran popular food truck Red Star Southern.
For bread, there’s Parker Smith, a former Barley Swine staffer who spent a lot of time at essential San Francisco bakery Neighbor Bakehouse; and Cody Hendricks, who spent some time at Barton Springs Mill, Easy Tiger, Bufalina, and New York pizzeria Roberta’s. Smith will focus on enriched bread and laminations, whereas Hendricks will concentrate on lean bread. On sale will be baguettes, sourdoughs, ryes, and others.
Once it fully opens (which should be happening very soon), Sour Duck Market’s hours are from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.