Eatery - Launderette (TX)
2115 Holly Street, Austin, TX 78702 (Neighborhood: Holly)
Pricing - $$ | Dining - Casual, Dressy Casual | Cuisine - New American
We immediately agreed the moment we saw Launderette from the street - the only word to properly describe the place was "adorable." The classic old-timey diner feel permeated from the entrance through the entire interior and even in the mannerisms of the staff there. I got first wind of the restaurant from the rave reviews online for its food and environment but upon seeing their website and their online menu, I knew it was a must-visit for our Austin trip. Good thing we committed too; it ended up being our favorite meal there! Expect a lovely atmosphere and even lovelier food when you arrive.
The decor inside built upon era design but with some modern flair. I was enamored with their choice of furniture at the bare minimum and swooned even more over how everything fell into place together. Outside, patio furniture boasting pastel upholstery welcomed us temptingly but we ended up at the patio along a wooden bench accompanied by throw pillows.
On such a beautiful afternoon, we decided to wet our throats with their colorful Mocktails offered at $5 each. Duc naturally channeled his pineapple love toward a glass of Bruleed Pineapple (ginger beer, sage peppercorn syrup, and lemon) while I wanted the refreshing, juicy Watermelon Shrub (chili basil syrup, sea salt, and soda water) to start the lunch off brightly. To compound our initial impressions of how adorable the restaurant was, the straws that came with our mocktails were bendy and temperature-sensitive so that they changed colors in the drink itself. If that isn't just a cute touch to the entire experience, I'm not sure what is.
To start, our appetizer orders were for the Hamachi Crudo ($14 - argan oil, pomegranate, and green chile) and Rabbit & Hawk ($14 - rabbit terrine, baguette, Redhawk triple creme, and accoutrements) for not only the interesting components but also because we were craving some high quality techniques. Both were presented beautifully but their flavors exceeded their physical appearances. The inviting hamachi crudo was tender to the point of nearly being intimate; pops for brightness came from each ruby-red pomegranate aril and delicate zest grating. That dish went quickly, and we ravaged the next as well. Smooth Redhawk spread across a fresh baguette was a treat in itself but the gorgeously crafted terrine stole the show. Pickled sliced okra and mustard seed topped the savory slab and contributed the perfect amount of acid to each bite. We were sorry to see the last bite disappear but then became very eager to see what our entrees would show off.
Feeling like some complex flavors, Duc ordered the Tandoori Prawns ($18 - cardamom, yogurt, and coconut mint chutney), and I was very curious about the Duck Lyonnaise ($22 - crispy duck leg, frisee, whipped deviled egg, lardons, and sauce gribiche) for how it would present whipped deviled egg with sauce gribiche. We could smell the prawns before we saw them arrive. They were massive and the flavors so robust that we could tell when another table ordered the dish based on the wafting scent itself. These grilled prawns were covered in an intense sauce that carried a slow-burning heat to it that was only strengthened by the slight spiciness in the chutney. Juicy and meaty, each creature was satisfyingly filling.
As for the duck, my oh my could anyone crisp up a duck leg better? In a manner akin to frenching a lamb rack, the leg was pulled back for ease of eating and so that every part could be covered in the smooth, rich sauce gribiche. The creamy texture was balanced by the crunchy frisee salad which hid salty, savory lardons between each leaf. The duck managed to feature a perfectly crackly skin on top with moist, flavorful meat beneath. In addition to our entrees and to join the side of such flavorful dishes, Roasted Cauliflower (pickled pear, fresno, sunchoke, and mustard vinaigrette) also accompanied the meal to both of our delights. Natural crunch from sunchoke was augmented by being thinly sliced and roasted alongside the hefty cauliflower florets. What a beautiful side of vegetables to enhance our meal!
Practically as stuffed as we could possibly be, we couldn't avoid fancying a glance at the dessert menu and then giving in to the $9 beauties. I chose the Creamsicle (tangerine pudding cake, raspberry fluff, poppy seed, and marigold ice cream) as it sounded light and small while Duc beelined to the Olive Oil Profiteroles (strawberry, white balsamic, rose pepper ganache, pistachio, and olive oil-strawberry ice cream) for its inclusion of pistachio.
I was right that the Creamsicle would be very light. The pudding cake was brilliantly light, not too sweet, and sized well. A quenelle of marigold ice cream kept the entire dish in a spring-loving mood, and we loved how paper-thin slices of dried tangerine highlighted that zesty flavor throughout. As for the profiteroles, they were adorably bite-sized but stacked so tall with tart strawberry-loaded ice cream that we had to take a few bites each, a messy endeavor considering the shower of ganache on top. Though it looked heavy, this dessert was also kept light with the addition of strawberries and balsamic. We especially enjoyed the scattering of crushed pistachio throughout.
In the end, there was no argument as to why Launderette has received accolades upon accolades. If you're in Austin, go there and try all that you can!
Photography by Duc Duong.