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Monday, February 20, 2012

French Inspired in the 78704: @Lenoir_Austin

What's up on South First Street?  Activity.  Tons of activity.  One of my favorite chef teams recently opened their own French-inspired restaurant that is turning heads left and right.  Todd Duplechan (formerly of Trio at the Four Seasons) and Jessica Maher (formerly of Dishalicious and Dai Due) brought upscale dining with warm ambience to my neck of the woods.  Todd is truly a master of execution.  He can take any run of the mill recipe and execute it so well that it makes you wonder what kind of magic he's doing in the back.  Add that to Jessica's expert ways with butter, flour, and sugar; and life is good in the 78704.  The restaurant is called Lenoir, pronounced like Len- waaaaaaaaa.  Follow them on Twitter @Lenoir_Austin.

I tried some new editing techniques on my photos.  I absolutely love the feel of Lenoir

Pretty flowers adorn each table. Dinner at Lenoir is exceptionally affordable, at $35 for a three course meal.  While the food is fine, Lenoir is not uptight or super formal.  You'd be alright showing up in a tee-shirt and boots.  If you can't decide which courses you want, you can always add another course for $10.  Jump at it.  I said, "Jump, Jump!" 

I visited Lenoir's soft opening with a fabulous girlfriend of mine, and we were stuffed without adding any additional courses.  First up: chickpea panisse / oyster mushrooms / wilted winter greens / poached egg.  Todd knows his way around eggs.  The yolk was simply fantastic.  Rich, gelatinous, and oh, so creamy.    Todd and Jessica recently participated in the TEDxAustin 2012 XLunch Experience.  They were given locally sourced ingredients via Whole Foods from Vital Farms, JB Organic, and Texmati rice to feed a group of 80 diners.  Todd came up with a fantastic and perfect for the cold weather soup called "The Chicken or the Egg."  It was a chicken pot-au-fue, or French Style chicken soup with egg yolk ravioli.  The egg yolks were poached, and then dropped into the hot soup for service.  Diners at TEDxAustin called it "The Best Soup Ever!" and "Incredible Lunch!"  I agree.

This dish was the axis venison / spiced broth / haikurei turnips / sunflower sprouts / daikon.  It isn't a traditional pho by any stretch.  It was a fantastic take on a pho with exceptionally tender venison.

This is a very creative take on coasters.  These were made out of cork flooring that was left over from another project.  It looks beautiful.  Who would have known it was just left over materials. 

Jessica's dessert: rosetta cookies / warm spiced chocolate.  I was pretty inspired by the cookies.  They are light, airy, with a perfect amount of crunch and structure in the delicate cookies.  Jessica explained that she received the molds from her grandmother, and you would dip the molds into batter, and then into hot oil for frying.  I know a dessert is good when I leave wondering how I could recreate them at home.  I did look up a bunch of rosetta cookie molds if that's any indication.  The warm chocolate had a hint of spice that reminded me of a cross between Christmas and Indian cooking.  I'd have to eat it again to tell you the exact spice profile.  Darn.  What a difficult task, but I'll do it.  Again, and again, and again.  Lenoir can be pretty busy, so call ahead.  Congrats to Todd and Jessica!

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