Field Report: One Meal At Lenoir. New Restaurant From Todd Duplechan
We decided to try out this prix-fixe only restaurant on its opening day.
Inside a remodeled residential house, the dining room interior is intimate with vintage touches and an almost Victorian aesthetic; lace curtains, antique cabinets and antique glass bottles used as flower vases.
The seating is fairly efficient with most tables designed for 2 or 4 with a center table lighted by 10 or so interspersed chandeliers designed for larger parties. We sit on white-washed wooden high chairs that, while fine for the length of meal we are having, could possibly become uncomfortable for longer experiences.
The spacing of the tables as well as the open kitchen makes the noise level a bit higher than what is typical for a semi-formal restaurant. While I do prefer a bit of rowdiness to hush-hush reverence, I would probably refrain from bringing children here.
We have Lenoir’s only option, a 3 course $30 per person prix-fixe menu where additional courses can be had for $10 each.
Our first dish is the chickpea panisse with oyster mushroom, wilted winter greens, and poached egg. This dish is reminiscent of an eggs florentine with the english muffin portion replaced by the panisse. The chickpea panisse tastes of a polenta cake and provides a nice foil to the richness of the egg yolk. This is a solid though fairly familiar dish.
Our next two courses take a while longer to bring to the table. Opening night jitters perhaps. Our server acknowledges the delay and apologizes which is fine.
Cooked fish dishes are a good way to test a chef’s technique. The poached fluke with herb broth, bok choy, and black rice features perfectly cooked fish. The flesh of the fluke still shimmers and is served at the point right before it flakes. The herb broth is a good, subtle compliment though the black rice seems unnecessary. While perhaps the chef wants to have a contrasting texture with the rice, I feel that the hardness of the black rice brings me out of the revery I have with the fluke.
The grouper is a firmer fleshed fish. The done-ness is also well controlled though I feel the accompaniment of beets overpowers the ham broth.
The quality and amount of fish served is generous at the pricepoint. I could see paying $15 to $18 elsewhere for either fish dish alone.
The meat dishes are also fairly adventurous. The venison with turnips, spiced broth, rawa noodles and sprouts tastes of a fine dining homage to pho. The venison is very well cooked and has a rosy red center. The sweetness of the haikurei turnips balances the spiced broth very well though I wish they were cut more finely to make eating easier.
Our favorite dish of the night has to be the pork osso buco with red curry, imperial lima beans, and green onions. Often, chefs in fine dining restaurants avoid utilizing overly strong flavors. Thus, I am very impressed that the osso buco has palpable and genuine heat and spice. Just like traditional veal osso buco, the pork bone in this dish also contains marrow. And thus I pick up the bone with the meat already eaten and loudly suck in the liquid fat inside in hopes of starting a trend amongst the other, better dressed, more etiquette aware diners in the restaurant.
We look forward to future trips to Lenoir. While they have a few kinks to work out, they present some intriguing options and offer genuine value for diners in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood.1807 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78704 (512) 215-9778