Parind Vora talks new Restaurant Jezebel and Moving Forward
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In 2010, Restaurant Jezebel – one of Austin’s most popular upscale restaurants – unexpectedly caught fire. The timing couldn’t have been worse for the beloved restaurant. Along with a small handful of other Austin eateries, Jezebel had been gaining tremendous media attention for its elegantly creative cuisine. The fire forced Jezebel to close, and while other restaurants in Austin continued to grow in popularity through time, Jezebel had to sit on the sidelines waiting for its opportunity to rejoin the game. In the two years since Jezebel’s closing, restaurants like Uchiko, Barley Swine, La Condesa, and Foreign & Domestic have basked in the glory that Restaurant Jezebel most certainly would have been a part of. In a few months, Parind Vora, chef and owner of Restaurant Jezebel and Braise, will reopen Restaurant Jezebel at a new downtown location with a number of changes and additions. Vora has not only revamped the Jezebel menu, he has also added a new restaurant/bar into the mix. Bar Mirabeau will feature breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a space alongside Jezebel. Vora talked with TEXAS MONTHLY about what we can expect from the new Jezebel, creating a thorough prix fixe menu, and what it was like to have Jezebel out of commission for two years. Tell me a little bit about the new Jezebel space. The space is pretty massive. The whole thing, including the bathroom, dining room, kitchen, bar, and patio is 10,000 square feet. Three-fourths of it is the bar and grill, and 2,400 square feet of it is the patio. Bar Mirabeau is 4,000 square feet. What made you decide to take on so much space? It worked out that way. I needed to do Jezebel and I knew I wanted a central downtown location. I was on the lookout, but still hadn’t found anything. The CEO of Cirrus Logic, [Jason Rhode], used to come into Jezebel all the time, and one day we chatted formally at Braise. He said, “Look, I don’t want junk food being served to my employees. We want something in the building where our employees can get good made-to-order food. Why don’t we work out a deal where you rent this space from us?” It just went from there. How will the new Jezebel be different from old Jezebel? At the beginning of 2009, we came up with the prix fixe menu at Jezebel in addition to the à la carte menu. By the time the fire happened, we were having one of the best years we had ever had. We were doing so awesome, so I was like, “Wow, this had to happen now?” The new Jezebel will just feature the prix fixe menu without the à la carte menu. Our prix fixe menu is actually very unique. We have full liquor at Jezebel now, where as before we only had beer and wine. When you order a cocktail, somebody will come out with a cart and make it table side, so it’s going to be a lot of old-school touches with a cheese cart, dessert cart, and bar cart. The prix fixe courses are set in that you can do three courses for $75, four courses for $85, or seven courses for $125. If you want to do a four-course vegetarian or vegan meal, that’ll be $75. The interesting thing about the menu is that the waiter will tell you what’s available on menu and ask if there is anything you don’t like, don’t want on your plate, or if there is something you really want to try. They’re going to go through and fill out this little questionnaire I’ve put together, figuring out if you are allergic to anything, how you like your meat or fish cooked, what kind of spice level you enjoy, etcetera. They’ll fill out the sheet telling me what each diner likes and doesn’t like, and using that questionnaire, i’ll make up dishes on the fly. It’s going to be very avant-garde. What i’m known for is doing really interesting combinations, big-flavored food, and nothing overly subtle. In the time that Jezebel hasn’t been open the Austin culinary scene has expanded and grown tremendously. What was it like for Jezebel not to be a part of that? Yeah, I have to admit I was kind of jealous not to have Jezebel in that, but I’m still really happy for Austin. The restaurants that have opened up here have been very stellar and world class. What will the design of the space be like at Jezebel? We are picturing something tropical and modern. We’ll have some plants and I’ll bring some paintings from the same artist over at Braise. Jezebel will be very opulent and elegant. We wanted clean lines and hints of opulence in little things all around the space. We planned to create an old-school feeling, but with a lot of modern touches. When are you projected to open? We are looking at right after Labor Day Weekend. If everything works out, that’s when it’ll be. So far, we seem to be headed in the right direction.