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Lefty’s Brick bar serves up banh mi and po’ boy mashups

Arrive East Austin Hotel is now open on East 6th Street in the city, and, along with it comes two new restaurantsGoan-Portuguese restaurant Vixen’s Wedding and casual Cajun spot Lefty’s Brick Bar. Both restaurants, curated by Lenoir chefs Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher, debuted inside the hotel on Friday, July 12. As Duplechan shared the story behind the restaurants, Eater Austin photographer Courtney Pierce captured the dishes and spaces.

Next up, Lefty’s Brick Bar:

Along with Vixen’s Wedding, Arrive East Austin hotel’s second restaurant, Lefty’s Brick Bar, reflects Duplechan’s upbringing in Richardson, Texas. The city includes large Chinese, Indian, and Vietnamese populations, as well as Cajun influences.

To emulate that mix, Lefty’s main dishes are the “banh boys,” which combine Vietnamese banh mi and Cajun po’ boys. That results in sandwich combinations like fried Gulf shrimp with nuoc leo; and red curry mushrooms with collard greens, pineapple and a pate made of peanuts.

Elsewhere on the menu are two boozy sno-ball options: tiger’s blood or orange creamsicle; and ice cream sandwiches, like peaches and cream; sweet corn and blueberry; and one with chocolate, marshmallow, and almond.

The decor of Lefty’s, also designed by local firm McCray & Co., focuses on exposed brick exteriors, elaborate murals, and a casual patio atmosphere. The team decided to keep the roll-up garage door windows as a nod to the BMX bike shop that once stood in the space.

As with Vixen’s Wedding, rounding out the Lefty’s team are director of restaurants/executive chef Zanotti (formerly of Portland restaurants Muselet and James Beard-nominated Castagna), sous chef Thomas Calhoun (former Lenoir pastry chef and executive chef of Aviary Wine + Kitchen), executive pastry chef Sarah Listrom (formerly of Barley Swine and Uchiko), beverage director Lindsay Drew (of now-closed Guild), general manager Adam Nystrom, and Lefty’s assistant general manager Bjorn Taylor.

Also included in Arrive East Austin Hotel is its new cafe, Cartel Coffee Lab, which opens this week, and an unnamed cocktail bar dedicated to gin also overseen by Duplechan and Drew, which should open in a few weeks. He teases the bar will be more upscale than the hotel’s other restaurants.

Courtney Pierce/EATX The sign at Lefty’s Brick Bar Courtney Pierce/EATX A mural of a rougarou (Cajun werewolf) at Lefty’s Courtney Pierce/EATX The alligator mural at Lefty’s Brick Bar Courtney Pierce/EATX Banh mi boy and boudin balls at Lefty’s Brick Bar Courtney Pierce/EATX Frozen drinks from Lefty’s Brick Bar Courtney Pierce/EATX The entrance of Lefty’s Brick Bar Courtney Pierce/EATX Ice cream sandwiches from Lefty’s Brick Bar
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The new restaurant from the Lenoir chefs is now open on East Sixth Street

Arrive East Austin Hotel is now open on East 6th Street in the city, and, along with it comes two new restaurantsGoan-Portuguese restaurant Vixen’s Wedding and casual Cajun spot Lefty’s Brick Bar. Both restaurants, curated by Lenoir chefs Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher, debuted inside the hotel on Friday, July 12. As Duplechan shared the story behind the two restaurants, Eater Austin photographer Courtney Pierce captured the dishes and spaces.

First up, Vixen’s Wedding: Courtney Pierce/EATX The exterior of Vixen’s Wedding

Duplechan, who was a former chef de cuisine of the Four Seasons in Austin, was not particularly eager to get back into the hotel business. However, Arrive’s stance on the hospitality industry changed his mind (the hotel co-founders Chris Pardo and Peter Karpinski are also alums of the Four Seasons network). Typically a hotel chef oversees usual demands like room service and banquets, which could get in the way of a solid kitchen operation. Arrive separates the two, and allowed Duplechan to create whatever he wanted. He decided to explore Indian food for the flagship restaurant.

Inspired by Indian chef and former colleague Floyd Cardoz, Duplechan focused on Goa, the Indian state that was once colonized by Portugal, for Vixen’s Wedding. He took a two-week trip through Goa with the hotel’s executive chef Greg Zanotti in March to develop the menu, visiting spice farms and eating “like ten meals a day.”

While some people still associate all Indian food with heavy butter and cream, Duplechan wants to highlight Goa’s spices and tropical fruits, like turmeric and cinnamon, mangos and citruses. He also seeks to explore how Portuguese imperialism affected the flavor profile in this region. This is why Vixen’s serves pork and beef, which are prevalent in Goa due to their popularity among the Portuguese, but can be less common in other parts of the country because the predominant religions are Hinduism and Islam, which avoid beef and pork, respectively.

Courtney Pierce/EATX Wax canvas light fixtures by Adele Hauser at Vixen’s Wedding Courtney Pierce/EATX The couch at Vixen’s Wedding

The name Vixen’s Wedding comes from a common term for sunshowers. According to Duplechan, it references the fable of a female fox (aka a vixen) who was marrying a wolf and wanted both sun and the rain for her wedding day (the latter for luck), and thus also represents someone who wants two conflicting things. (Though the idiom exists worldwide, this particular version of the myth could not be verified by Eater.) Duplechan uses the name to describe the Portuguese and Indian influences in Goan cuisine.

Courtney Pierce/EATX The colorful dining room at Vixen’s Wedding Courtney Pierce/EATX The bench seats and bar at Vixen’s Wedding

Continuing Duplechan’s commitment to using local ingredients, he created dishes like a vindaloo rib served with a coconut salad, which he notes is a play on ribs and coleslaw. He imported Kerala matta red rice, which he likes for its texture and flavor, and made it available as a side dish and as part of the porchetta. Scope out the full menu below.

Courtney Pierce/EATX Vindaloo ribs from Vixen’s Wedding Courtney Pierce/EATX Samosas at Vixen’s Wedding Courtney Pierce/EATX Gunpowder cauliflower Courtney Pierce/EATX Shellfish panisse from Vixen’s Wedding

For Vixen’s decor, local design firm McCray & Co. used bright jewel tones to reflect the vibrancy of spices in Goan cuisine. For example, the light fixtures have a golden yellow interior that represents turmeric. A mural of a vixen adorns the brick wall in the back, and there are nautical touches like a macrame curtain and nets to represent the sea-adjacent position of both Goa and Portugal. The bar also makes use of reclaimed wood sourced from Lenoir’s space on South First.

Courtney Pierce/EATX The bar at Vixen’s Wedding

Duplechan has pulled together a team of culinary powerhouses for the Arrive restaurants: director of restaurants/executive chef Zanotti (formerly of Portland restaurants Muselet and James Beard-nominated Castagna), executive pastry chef Sarah Listrom (formerly of Barley Swine and Uchiko), beverage director Lindsay Drew (of now-closed Guild), and general manager Adam Nystrom. It’s also where Thomas Calhoun, former Lenoir pastry chef and executive chef of Aviary Wine & Kitchen, has landed as a sous chef.

Duplechan is, ultimately, tired of fancy dining. With his Arrive East Austin hotel restaurants, he hopes to bring a sense of fun back into eating out, without endless ingredient explanations from servers or too much thinking on the diners’ parts.

“I just want to go into some place and have really good food and some great wine and just leave,” Duplechan explains. “I don’t need it to be some five-hour thing.” He believes this trend towards casual reflects the general attitude of Austin diners. (It’s worth nothing that Lenoir got rid of its prix fixe menu in favor of an a la carte menu with optional tasting menu earlier this year.)

Duplechan continues, as a diner, “if I wanted to take a deep dive” into the food at Vixen’s, “there is something [a story, history] behind it all. But if I don’t want to, I just had a great dinner.”

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The Kebab Shop is quite confident in its kebabs

The Kebab Shop, the San Diego-based fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant, is already planning its second location before its first Texas spot opens in Austin. The newly announced location will be found at East Austin mixed-use development Plaza Saltillo in the East 5th Street area. It’s expected to open sometime in early 2020.

Kebab Shop’s first Texas and Austin location is set to open in mid-August — projected on Thursday, August 15 at this point — at 9761 Great Hills Trails in the Arboretum. Both locations are being helmed by co-owner Wally Sadat.

Kebab Shop’s main dish is the doner kebab, a Turkish dish consisting of roasted spiced meat (chicken, lamb, or beef), which is carved from a rotating spit. There are sandwiches, boxes, and plates, with sides like saffron rice, hummus, fries, and olives. Other items also include caprese and Greek salads, falafel, and a variety of sauces.

The forthcoming food and drink lineup at Plaza Saltillo currently includes Dolce Neve, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Snooze, Chuy’s, Chipotle, as well as Whole Foods Market. San Antonio Southeast Asian seafood restaurant Pinch Boil House & Bia Bar isn’t opening in the development.

The first Kebab Shop opened in 2007 in San Diego by Sadat’s brother-in-law Tony Farmand.

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Shakira invests in an Austin coffee company, plus more news

New Triangle Coffee Shop
San Antonio-based shop Merit Coffee (née Local Coffee) quickly opened its third Austin cafe over the weekend. It’s found at 4615 North Lamar Boulevard, Suite 303A, within the Triangle. The menu and design is similar to the other locations: coffee and espresso drinks, plus pastries from Bakery Lorraine. The cafe, which took over the former Vitamin Shoppe, made its debut on Saturday, July 13. Its hours are from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Celebrity Coffee Investor
Austin canned coffee company High Brew added a new celebrity investor: Shakira. She joins other investors like rock band Kings of Leon, Lance Armstrong, and pop singer Halsey.

Female Culinary Education Scholarships
The Austin chapter of Les Dames D’Escoffier, the nonprofit focused on supporting women in the food, beverage, and hospitality worlds, is now accepting applications for two scholarships. One is one is to help further education for those currently in culinary school, and the other is to help further education for working professionals. The deadline is Thursday, August 29.

Austin Barbecue Cover
Austin’s La Barbecue nabbed the cover of Garden & Gun’s barbecue issue. LeAnn Mueller’s barbecue joint was also included in the publication’s list of the best new Southern barbecue restaurants.

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Spread & Co. will open in the fall

Austin cheese board and charcuterie company Spread & Co. is opening a restaurant dedicated to cheese, sandwiches, and wine at 1601 West 38th Street, Unit 1 starting sometime the fall, either in September or October, near the Rosedale neighborhood.

Spread & Co. will be helmed by chef Austin Ewald and Rosemary Ewald. Rosemary started the business in 2016 as a cheese board and charcuterie delivery business, and she also previously managed the original location of Lick Honest Ice Cream. Austin Ewald had been the head chef of upscale Mexican restaurant Grizzelda’s, and before that, he was the chef de cuisine at Texas-inspired Jacoby’s.

On deck are cheese, bread, sandwiches, and wine, with lots of dips, pickled items, jams, mustards, honey, crudites, and more. The restaurant’s social media accounts have been teasing pimento cheese and loaded toasts.

The restaurant is taking over what had been coffee shop Russell’s Bistro, which closed in 2018 (its sister restaurant Russell’s Bakery & Coffee Bar in Hancock remains open).

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The menu features several concoctions and Belgian waffles

East Austin gets a new coffee trailer with the opening of LeverCraft Coffee, found at 3307 Oak Springs Drive in the MLK neighborhood, within real estate firm Open House Austin.

Eric Mann started LeverCraft as a vintage Italian espresso machine repair shop in 2012, and got into roasting coffee himself later on. He wanted to open a coffee shop because “it’s something that has affected everyone’s lives in one way or another,” he told Eater.

Mann teamed up with Kristina Modares and Stephanie Douglass, co-founders of Open House with the goal of opening some sort of cafe as part of their office space. Originally, they wanted to build a physical cafe, but they were too impatient and it would’ve been too expensive. Instead, they decided to go down the trailer route.

“It is our goal to become the first coffee shop in the world to achieve a Michelin star,” Mann told Eater. The coffee menu features two concoctions: the espresso lemonade and the Freddo, which pairs nitro cold brew with a cold-brew cream. Then there’s the usual espresso menu. The retail component will include coffee beans.

LeverCraft Coffee [Official] LeverCraft’s espresso lemonade
LeverCraft Coffee [Official] Making an espresso at LeverCraft

Food-wise, there are vegan Liege waffles. For now, the only available topping is a cold-brew whipped cream. Mann wants to eventually partner with other restaurants and food trucks to create other sorts of toppings for the Belgian waffles.

“I want people to step into the trailer and feel like they just walked into a little coffee shop, not a trailer,” Mann said. There’s marble tiling, vinyl plank floors, concrete look counters, and marble detailing. Inside, there’s seating space for two people, ideal for coffee-making sessions. Outside, there’s a deck with seating, stage, and shades.

LeverCraft will also host education events, classes, and what Mann refers to as “date nights.” Its hours are from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and then from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the weekends.

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Austin kimchi cream cheese collaboration, plus more news

San Antonio Restaurant’s Austin Plan Update
Unfortunately, popular San Antonio restaurant Pinch Boil House & Bia Bar, which had announced it was going to open in Austin at Plaza Saltillo this year, paused its plans for now. A rep for the restaurant told Eater that there were “some unexpected delays and changes occurred,” so the East Austin location isn’t happening anymore. Co-founders Andrew Ho and Sean Wen are currently looking for a new address, aiming to open sometime next year. The restaurant is known for its Vietnamese-Cajun seafood boils, as well as pan-Southeast Asian dishes like banh mi and Korean buffalo chicken wings.

Kimchi Cream Cheese Bagels
Austin shop Rockstar Bagels teamed up with Korean food truck Kimchi Jon’s on a new cream cheese collaboration. The result is kimchi cream cheese, where the plain spread is mixed with the truck’s fermented vegetables. It’s available at the bagel shop on Rosewood Avenue starting next week, Tuesday, July 16. The truck, which is now situated at Nomadic Beerworks in South Austin, will also serve the kimchi cream cheese from its truck later this month, featured in a bulgogi/egg/cheese sandwich and spicy Korean fried chicken sandwich.

Texas Wine List Awards
Several Texas restaurants made it to Wine Enthusiast’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants list of the year. While no Austin restaurants nabbed slots, there’s Fredericksburg restaurant Cabernet Grill and San Antonio’s Maverick Texas Brasserie.

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Ebisu brings sushi, wagyu, and more to Balcones Village

New modern Japanese restaurant Ebisu, is aiming to open in Balcones Village in Northwest Austin on 13376 North Highway 183, Suite 400 starting on Thursday, August 1.

The name comes from Japanese god of fisherman and luck, fitting for the sushi-focused restaurant. Along with sashimi and sushi, there will be beef options like wagyu and other prime grade cuts.

The full bar, with an emphasis on whiskey, will serve up cocktails, both classic and ones mixed with Japanese liqueurs. Beer and sake are also on deck. The space will include a sushi bar, bar area, lounge, dining room, and private banquet rooms.

The three-person team behind Ebisu — including executive chef Jay Chung and Joo Chung — run a Japanese restaurant mini-chain in California (Yanagi), but this is their first Texas location.

Once it opens, Ebisu’s hours will be from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and then from 4:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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Patika brings coffee, sandwiches, and salads to Congress Avenue

South Lamar coffee shop Patika expanded with a new casual downtown Austin restaurant this month. Patika Luncheonette, which is now open as of late June, is found in the lobby of the 100 Congress Avenue office building.

Owner Andy Wigginton wanted to create a place with an “everyday feel” that was “casual, comfortable,” and landed on the luncheonette idea. The tiny restaurant is open during daytime hours for breakfast and lunch, aiming to serve people in nearby offices. He had been wanting to get Patika back in the downtown area after he shut down the original Congress Avenue cart back in 2016.

On deck at Patika Luncheonette are general daytime-friendly dishes. There are sandwiches (breakfast, French dip, BLT, tuna melt, etc.), salmon-stuffed avocados, avocado toast, and more. There are also grab-and-go items focused on salads like the superfood one, tuna nicoise, and miso soba noodles. Scope out the full offerings below.

Because it’s Patika, there’s a full coffee menu featuring the coffee shop’s new own roasting company Superthing, as well guest roasters.

Patika Luncheonette’s hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during the weekdays. The lobby space features 16 dine-in seats, and the restaurant offers catering and group orders.

Wigginton opened the now-closed downtown coffee art in 2010, and expanded with the brick-and-mortar cafe on South Lamar in 2014.

Patika Luncheonette [Official] Seating at Patika Luncheonette
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Tom Anglesea’s In Plain Sight is taking over downtown juice bar Squeezery’s space

Downtown juice bar The Squeezery will soon be replaced by a new European-style aperitivo bar, In Plain Sight, featuring dishes from popular British chef Tom Anglesea. No date has been given yet for the switch-up for the space at 612 Brazos Street, which is part of coworking space The Riveter Co.

In Plain Sight will serve coffee and rotating dishes from Anglesea. The chef currently helms essential London spot new-wave wine bar/restaurant the Laughing Heart, which was recently named one of the 100 best restaurants in the UK. There, he is known for mixing Asian, modern British, and Mediterranean in dishes, like a signature Sichuan crème brulée. Anglesea was also a finalist in the most recent season of competition cooking show Great British Menu.

In terms of drinks, In Plain Sight will take inspiration from aperitivo (the Italian version of happy hour), featuring spritz cocktails and wine, with a specific focus on natural wine.

Like The Squeezery, In Plain Sight is operated by the same team behind adjacent speakeasy bar Here Nor There, which includes beverage director Terance Robson. The name is likely a contrast to Here Nor There, which does not have a published address, but is found in the same building.

The Squeezery and Here Nor There opened in April and June of 2018, respectively, with Here Nor There touted as a members-only cocktail bar (though it is currently still free) and The Squeezery serving grab-and-go dishes and vegan gelato bowls served in coconuts. The spots have undergone some changes, as original owner James Huertas left last year and the adjacent coworking space The Refinery closed and Riveter Co. took over.

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