With Vilma Mazaite leaving her position of wine director and executive chef and pastry chef Sean O’Leary and Janina O’Leary leaving their positions abruptly yesterday, it is fair to say there has been a bit of turmoil at LaV. Today, owner Ralph Eads and general manager Jamie Wagner released a joint statement addressing the changes.
“From the beginning our mission at laV has been to offer an inspired menu , world-class wine and service in a lovely setting. We continue to be humbled by the support and recognition laV has received as a result of the hard work and dedication of our collective team. Since opening we’ve learned valuable lessons about how to build a great restaurant and remain steadfast in our commitment to providing the best possible experience for our guests. For that reason, we are taking our time to conduct a comprehensive search for an executive chef and are making excellent progress. We have been gratified by the quality of candidates who have expressed interest in joining laV. We expect to conclude the search process in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we have a great culinary team at laV who continue to produce some of the best food in Austin. We would also like to express our thanks to Chef Sean O’Leary for helping us on an interim basis during our search. Chef Janina O’Leary is a great talent and we wish her the best as she moves on to her next adventure.”
— laV Owner Ralph Eads and general manager, Jamie Wagner
Days after it was announced that wine director Vilma Mazaite had left the floor at LaV to focus on a wine and food festival produced by the restaurant, award-winning executive pastry chef Janina O’Leary and her husband, interim executive chef Sean O’Leary, have left LaV, a rep for the East Austin restaurant confirmed. There is no word on who will helm the kitchen at LaV going forward, but I will pass along that information when I get it. Sean O’Leary took the helm at LaV after opening executive chef Allison Jenkins departed this summer.
In what looks to be a brilliant marketing move for both companies, UberEATS will deliver free boxes of Voodoo Doughnuts from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday. Once that two-hour window closes, UberEATS will deliver lunch requests, per usual business operations, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The wildly popular Portland-based doughnut shop officially opens at 211 E. Sixth St. on Halloween, so this promotion from the food-delivery app will give people a sneak peek. The promotion is set for 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. but will only last as long as supplies last (limit one box per customer).
Wondering how UberEATS works? Uber users open the Uber app, select EATS, set delivery location, and place their order. Food shows up within minutes. Majorly important note: The UberEATS delivery area is extremely limited in Austin (Lady Bird Lake to 38th Street and Lamar Avenue to I-35). Check the map here.
The app has already expanded its offerings since first launching. As a sample taste, today it is delivering food from Noble Sandwich Co., Sagra, Manuel’s, and Gus’s Fried Chicken.
One of Austin’s star hospitality veterans has returned to town. Paula Rester will rejoin the La Corsha Hospitality Group (Congress, Second Bar + Kitchen, et al) on December 1. Rester, who previously served as captain and sommelier at Congress, will oversee the wine programs at Congress, Bar Congress, Second Bar + Kitchen, the upcoming Boiler Nine Bar + Grill at Seaholm, the soon-to-be renovated Green Pastures, and new location of Second at the Domain.
Rester left Austin last year for New York City, where she served as sommelier at Maialino, the Italian restaurant operated by Danny Meyer’s industry-leading Union Square Hospitality Group. Rester, a Level II Certified Sommelier, has a resume in Austin also includes time at Uchi and as general manager at Vino Vino in Hyde Park.
“I am excited to return home and take on this greater and more challenging role,” Rester said. “It’s an honor to be trusted with the responsibility of curating the wine lists for some of the best restaurants in the city.”
After 10 years in business, Amy’s Ice Creams closed its location at 3100 South Congress Ave. near St. Edward’s University. Steve Simmons, Amy’s director of business development and husband of founder Amy Simmons, said the move came after their current landlord doubled the rent on the small space.
“It pains me that we’re being forced to leave a neighborhood we care about,” Simmons said.
Simmons said he proposed a counter offer, but the landlord refused and has already found new tenants for the strip mall that once included Austin businesses Strut and Crown Clothing from Service Menswear.
With rents increasing throughout town, Simmons says Amy’s is eyeing expansion in markets outside of Austin, including Round Rock and San Marcos.
“We’re not gonna cry over spilled milk,” Simmons said.
We’ll have more details on the new tenants on South Congress Avenue as they become available.
The Salt Lick welcomes Hill Country neighbor Jester King to the Salt Lick Cellars on November 18 for the first-ever collaborative beer dinner at the famous Driftwood barbecue spot. The $75 dinner will be a prix fixe affair featuring six paired food-and-beer combinations, including barbecue oysters with parmesan paired with Snörkel, a farmhouse ale brewed with alderwood smoked sea salt and oyster mushrooms; slow braised beef short rib paired with the Ambrée amber ale; and Reposé,a farmhouse ale brewed with hay and slowly fermented in French brandy barrels with native yeast and bacteria. A limited number of tickets are on sale now and can be purchased online here.
Gardner may be a veggie-forward restaurant, but chef Andrew Wiseheart and co. know their way around beef, as evidenced by their list-worthy burger at sister restaurant Contigo. Gardner has gotten in on the burger fun and recently debuted a new happy hour menu that includes a cheeseburger made with two dry-aged beef patties, Texas cheddar, charred jalapeno mayonnaise, iceberg lettuce, onions, tomato and house dill pickles on a Pullman bun. It’s served with seasoned fingerling potato fries, a fried jalapeno and urfa mayo. The burger is only $6 during happy hour (5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily) through November and available only at the patio bar area (1914 E. Sixth St.). The happy hour also includes half-price bottles of wine and specials on select bar snacks.
Fellow East Austin restaurant Jacoby’s (3235 E. Cesar Chavez St.) has also rolled out its own burger special. The burger, which made my list of Austin’s best last month, is now sold for $10 at the inside bar at any time and on any day. The burger features a half-pound of dry-aged Jacoby’s beef.
Bill Dumas works his finals days at the barbecue trailer at sausage companySmokey Denmark this week and will move over to Stiles Switch on North Lamar Boulevard. Taking Dumas’ place at the colorful truck at the sausage-making company will be Keenan Goldis, a sausage-making veteran who joined Smokey Denmark this summer after shuttering his Goldis Sausage Co. business. Pitmaster Lance Kirkpatrick still runs the show over at Stiles Switch, which is taking over the adjacent barbershop space, according to Mike Sutter at FedmanWalking.com. Smokey Denmark’s trailer at 3505 E. Fifth St. is open for lunch Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Italian boom continued this week with the opening of Al Fico. The restaurant from Vino Vino founders Jeff Courington and Kelly Bell is located at 1700 E. Second St. Al Fico’s website says the restaurant is taking reservations (call 512-469-9400 to reserve) but not walk-ins.