The Digest: Eleven Plates, Restaurant Week, closings

 
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 09.23.11
 
When Austin Restaurant Week starts on Sunday (Sept. 25), Eleven Plates & Wine will have more on the line than the other 55 or so places on the roster. For Eleven Plates, the start of ARW is also opening day for the new venture from Mike and Kelly Swartz, who also own the two Melting Pot restaurants in Austin. Eleven Plates, named for the numbers the Swartzes wore playing college sports, takes over the former home of Thistle Cafe in Davenport Village, but the space has been sanded down to the bare walls and floors for a full redesign. To fill that space, the Swartzes brought on executive chef Kevin Dee, a Culinary Institute of America grad who formerly worked for SWB at the Hyatt Regency Austin. Dee is part of a team that includes operating partner Randy Laboy (Melting Pot) and assistant general manager Ike Johnson (Grapevine Market, Max’s Wine Dive). (Pictured above, from left: Mike Swartz, Randy Laboy, Kevin Dee and Ike Johnson.)
 
Working with consultant Sean Fulford, whom Austinites might remember from Vin Bistro, Dee has developed a menu of 11 small plates, 11 large plates, 11 desserts, 11 lunches and 11 brunches. Sensing the thematic link here? The menu rolls through a classic bistro repertoire of pastas, steak frites, duck confit, scallops and roasted chicken, plus casual elements like grilled flatbread, sliders, burgers and mac and cheese. Small pates run about $5-$9, with large plates averaging about $12-$18, with nothing over $20. The wine part of Eleven Plates and Wine — with 33 by the glass and more than 120 by the bottle, plus retail sales — draws from Laboy’s experience as a sommelier (he’ll take his Level 2 exam in October) and from Johnson’s time handling wine fro Grapevive Market and Max’s Wine Dive.
 
For Mike Swartz, the building, the Westlake area location and the sweeping views of the hills around Loop 360 were strong selling points for opening Eleven Plates. “It just felt like home,” he said.
 
Eleven Plates & Wine. 3801 N. Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360), Suite C200. 328-0110, www.elevenplates.com. Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday. 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. For Austin Restaurant Week, Eleven Plates will offer a $20 brunch with a cocktail and two courses, a three-course lunch for $15 and a three-course dinner for $35.
 
Austin Restaurant Week
 
Austin Restaurant Week starts Sunday (Sept. 25) for an eight-day exploration of more than 50 places offering three-course dinners for $25-$35. The week — actually two Sunday-Wednesday stretches — runs from Sept. 25-28, then again Oct. 2-5, with some ARW sites also doing lunch or brunch for $10-$15. The list includes hot properties like Uchi, Uchiko, Foreign & Domestic, the Carillon and Parkside, where $35 for three-courses is a solid deal for getting acquainted. Some are truly good deals — the $35 menu at Green Pastures includes a fried lobster tail, and Fabi and Rosi is showing off its European menu for $25. Full restaurant list at www.restaurantweekaustin.com.
 
Closings
 
This has been a rough summer for Austin restaurants, with closings piling up, especially this week.
 
 Closed: Graze, the restaurant at 1707 E. Sixth St. that opened only a few weeks. Ago. A sign on the door Thursday said, “Graze Restaurant closed through the end of the year.”
 
 Closed: Paradise Cafe at 401 E. Sixth St.
 
 Closed: The Belmont at 305 W. Sixth St.
 
 Closed: El Arbol, the Argentinian restaurant at 3411 Glenview Ave.
 
 Closed: Two frozen-yogurt shops downtown — Tart at 241 W. Second St., Yummy-Yo at 360 Nueces St.
 
 Closing: Hickory Sreet Bar & Grill, 800 Congress Ave. The restaurant’s Facebook page says a closing bash is scheduled for Oct. 1.
 
 
‘Lights On’ Report
 
► Name change: Daily Juice owner Matt Shook has changed the names of the locations on 1625 Barton Springs Road and 2307 Lake Austin Blvd. from Daily Juice to Juiceland. As the sign says, “Now under same management.” www.juicelandaustin.com.
 
 On the way: Old School Grill is opening a second location at the former Paradise Cafe spot at 401 E. Sixth St. A call Friday confirms that the 6301 Parmer Road location will stay, and that the Sixth Street location could be up and running as early as next month.
 
► On the way: Noodles & Co., a national chain doing Italian, Asian and American noodle dishes, in the Northcross area at 2525 W. Anderson Lane. That location is scheduled to open Oct. 17, with two more scheduled: one on the Drag at 24th and Guadalupe streets and another at the Arboretum at 9761 Great Hills Trail.
 
► On the way: Lenoir, a restaurant from Trio chef de cuisine Todd Duplechan in the former Somnio’s Cafe space at 1807 S. First St.
 
► On the way: PhoNatic, a Vietnamese restaurant at 2525 W. Anderson Lane.
 
► On the way: Maoz Vegetarian, the first Texas location of the international vegetarian chain, at the Triangle.
 
► Open: The Spicy Pickle, a second Austin location of the national sandwich chain at 300 S. Lamar Blvd.
 
 
 
 
Food and wine briefs
 
► When “Top Chef Texas” premieres on Bravo Nov. 2, two Austin chefs will be in the kitchen competing: Paul Qui of Uchiko and Andrew Curren of 24 Diner. The show filmed around Austin this summer, and Qui’s participation was one of the worst-kept secrets in town, while Curren flew under the radar.
 
► Speaking of 24’s Andrew Curren, 24 Diner (600 N. Lamar Blvd., 472-5400, www.24diner.com) will host a five-course dinner paired with beers from Real Ale Brewing Co. at 7 p.m. Oct. 5. $60. (Update: This event has sold out.)
 
► The Texas Craft Brewers Festival is coming to Fiesta Gardens ( 2101 Jesse E. Segovia St.) from 2 to 8 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 24). The event will include more than 75 beers from 18 Texas brewers, plus music, food and beer education sessions. Ages 21 and over only. Tickets at www.texascraftbrewersfestival.org. General admission is $8. VIP tickets are $58 and include noon entry, a T-shirt, a meet-and-greet with brewers and a festival pint glass. Neither price includes beer sampling tokens, which are $12 for eight.
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking; video from BravoTV.com.)