ATXReview

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Lenoir image
7.7

Lenoir

AmericanFusion

South AustinBouldin

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDrinking Good WineHappy HourOutdoor/Patio Situation
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When summer strikes in Austin, it’s relentless. Triple digit days become the norm, and the air around the city starts to feel downright spicy. And when that time comes, we often take shelter in the Lenoir's beautiful wine garden on South First Street. We like to cool down with their menu of “hot weather foods”—translation: light and fresh—that pairs nicely with Austin’s many, many months of summer. 

You’ll have to choose between two great options for an experience at Lenoir. There’s the cozy, renovated old bungalow with a handful of tables, plus some bar seating. And there’s the large outdoor wine garden shaded by oak trees, where you can usually grab a table without planning ahead. Wherever you find yourself seated, you’ll be in an intimate space with full access to a very well-curated list of mostly natural wines that you can peruse while you chat about things like how pretty the space is, what you’re going to order, and whether or not the squirrels in the surrounding trees have opinions on Austin’s rental prices.

Lenoir image

photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

You can certainly come for the wine and nature alone, but you’d be doing yourself no favor by skipping out on the menu of mostly refreshing bites. It’s offered a la carte, or as a 5-course “chef’s choice” tasting if you want to remove things like decision-making and “free will” from the equation. And while the menu changes often, what you can generally expect is an exciting blend of Mediterranean and Indian flavors.

Almost all the food here takes on an intense level of spice—whether that’s in the form of a complex melon vindaloo, or a spicy scotch bonnet broth—that prevents your taste buds from ever dozing off. While there are some excellent bites to be had, there are also times when an almost overwhelming amount of flavors and textures vie for your affection—like a steak topped with two different chutneys, fried okra, and fresh herbs, all over a tangy yogurt sauce. Like The Hobbit film trilogy (that should have just been one movie) or the 9th installment of Fast & Furious, the food is sometimes a little overproduced.

Lenoir’s wine garden is one of our favorite places in the whole city to post up, grab a glass (or bottle) of wine, and enjoy some truly unique flavor combinations. But it’s more than just a few tables, oak trees, and a great wine list. It’s a way to actually enjoy the warmer months with some hot weather foods in an awesome outdoor space in South Austin. 

Food Rundown

Lenoir image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Crab Fingers

These are the perfect start to this (and probably any) meal. Chilled crab claws resting in a shallow pool of spicy, creamy curry leaf leche de tigre with a few drops of chili oil that make the whole dish look a bit like an oil painting you’ll want to eat.
Lenoir image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Housemade Pullman Bread

This is a super thick slab of buttery, toasted bread that’s great for spreading with the accompanying spicy pimento cheese (and topping with pickles). We’d recommend grabbing one of these for the table, but if you’re a small party, it can be a little heavy of a course.
Lenoir image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Quail + Melon Vindaloo

This hits just about every note on the sweet/spicy/bitter spectrum, and a pretty good single bite representation of everything Lenoir is going for with their menu. The melon is sweet and the quail is savory. But the vindaloo sauce is a little on the bitter side for our taste.
Lenoir image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Strip Steak

This is a great piece of steak, but with two different chutneys, fried okra, and a tangy sauce on the bottom, there’s a little too much going on to be able to appreciate everything.
Lenoir image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Blue Corn & Texas Cherry Cake

The blue corn cake is an excellent dessert: it’s soft and moist, with a rich, almost earthy corn flavor. And the cherries add just a little bit of sweetness to balance it all out.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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