Finally! Top Chef Texas and James Beard Award winner Paul Qui announced today that his much-anticipated East Austin restaurant, qui, will open its doors on June 20. Qui, who was the Chef de Cuisine at Uchi and the Executive Chef at Uchiko, has been on the verge of opening his first full-scale restaurant for months, but kept getting delayed by one thing or another. Among the hold-ups were a series of culinary expeditions he took over the past eight months to Europe and Asia, from which he appears to have returned with a lot of ideas.
According to a press release, opening dishes include Salmon Butter (Ora King salmon poached in oil with a texture that resembles spreadable butter); Rabbit 7 Ways (rabbit prepared using French, Thai, and Vietnamese stylistic touches, served with greens and carrot nuoc mam dipping sauce); and Street Urchin (grilled Mexican street corn topped with sea urchin bottarga). Desserts will include a Cheddar Cheese Ice Cream Sandwich (with crispy waffles, honey, and Cabot cheddar); Mais con Yelo (milk ice, corn milk, and chocolate leche flan); and Kakigori (a Japanese-inspired coconut snow cone with a rum and cinnamon custard and caramelized peanuts).
Like East Side King, qui has managed to draw together an impressive roster of talented, eccentric, and creative folks (watch a video of the process here). June Rodil, formerly of Congress and Uchi, is the general manager and manager of wine, and Tim Dornon, who was the Chef de Cuisine at Uchiko, came over as Chef Consultant. Local architects Eric Barth and Ryan Burke of A Parallel Architecture designed the space, which features a main dining room, a small tasting room located in Qui’s office/library, and an open kitchen. A local potter made the plates and bowls, and Japanese artist Peelander Yellow (who painted the East Side King food trailers, also a Qui project) painted the interior of the restaurant.
Editor-in-chief Jake Silverstein was at the restaurant yesterday for a feature on Qui in the forthcoming issue of the magazine, and came back with these photos of the new space.
Qui is located at 1600 E. Sixth Street. Dinner Monday through Saturday. Information available at www.quiaustin.com.
The private tasting room/Qui's library and office. He describes the concept of the room as eating "inside my brain."
Qui's idea board where he assembles concepts for dishes. Large tags indicate potential main courses, and small tags indidate preparations. "If the tags are clustered together, it's possibly a dish."
A joke ingredient, we assume.
The main dining room.
The hostess stand.
Qui's fiance, Deana Saukam, who works as Qui's PR/media/event wizard.