Former Parkside executive chef Nathan Lemley and his partner, chef Sarah Heard, have purchased Foreign & Domestic Austin from founding chef Ned Elliott. Both chefs are also alumni of the North Loop restaurant that Elliott opened in 2010, with Lemley, a three-year veteran of Foreign & Domestic, serving as Elliott’s original sous chef.
Chefs Sarah Heard and Nathan Lemley are the new owners of Foreign & Domestic Austin. (Contributed)
“I’m really proud of them and very happy for them. They’re going to do awesome and breathe new life into the place,” Elliott said of Heard and Lemley.
The partners say they have small changes planned for the restaurant that will keep the same name and general look, but judging by their early Instagrams
, it seems diners should expect thoughtful contemporary bistro fare.
“”It’s pretty much every chef‘s dream restaurant: Small, open kitchen, cool neighborhood, adventurous clientele,” Lemley and Heard said in a text message. “We love the concept, but we’ll put our own touches on the food and service.”
Pulled by his love of home and out of concern for the health of his mothers, Elliott will return to his native Cincinnati next summer to open a Foreign & Domestic there. He says the Cincinnati restaurant will be about twice the size of the Austin location and feature a raw bar and private dining space.
Elliott will also turn his attention to Houston, with plans to open a restaurant there late next year. He is in negotiations for a location in the Bellaire neighborhood and says those plans would include a restaurant four times the size of the Austin location. Elliott wants the Houston location to be “more of a hangout than fine dining” and says diners will be able to enjoy a range of options, from hamburgers during the week to a three-course dinners on the weekend.
Elliott intends to spend about half of his time in Cincinnati and then divide the other half between Houston and Austin, and says while he has a future possibility in Austin that he wants to “take a step back and do more big picture things and invest in young talent.”
When Elliott and his then-wife, Jodi Elliott, veterans of restaurants such as Per Se, Gramercy Tavern and Bouley in New York, opened the restaurant in a former skateboard shop and homebrew store in 2010, they were at the cutting edge of the food scene in Austin, bringing national trends like nose-to-tail dining to a city that was at the cusp of becoming one of the nation’s darling upstarts. The restaurant, which had an early menu featuring items like bone marrow croquettes, crispy pig ears, venison heart tartare and sublime popovers, earned Statesman restaurant critic Mike Sutter’s nod for best new restaurant in 2010. Foreign & Domestic was a staple in the Austin360 Dining Guide Top 25
for years, earning a Top 10 ranking four of the last five years.
In addition to elevating what Austinites could expect not just from restaurants but specifically from a neighborhood restaurant, Elliott also celebrated young talent from around the country, for several years hosting the annual Indie Chefs Week, a week of collective dinners from rising star chefs from across the world. Jodi Elliott currently operates Bribery Bakery
in the Wells Branch neighborhood, and recently closed her shop at Mueller.