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First Look: Launderette is Days Away from Opening and Hosting a Benefit on February 17

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One of the most anticipated openings in what promises to be a jam-packed restaurant season in Austin is less than a week away. Here’s how things are shaping up in the converted washateria now known as Launderette.

The contemporary room, lit by track lighting, wraps around an open kitchen. Arguably the best seats in the house are at the wood counter that fronts that busy work space. In the dining room, modern Windsor-style chairs surround wooden tables.

In charge of operations are chef Rene Ortiz and pastry chef Laura Sawicki, the duo who created the menus at La Condesa and Sway. Departing from the Mexican and Thai themes of those two restaurants, they are taking Launderette in a Mediterranean direction.

Toasted focaccia is spread with whipped taleggio and mascarpone, then topped with a five-minute egg, asparagus, radishes, black-truffle dressing, and thin-sliced bottarga (salted cured fish roe).

Grilled broccolini is boosted with a fresno pepper romesco sauce, then finished with slivered almonds and a drizzle of olive oil.

House-made garganelli and fresh kale comes topped with pork/fennel sausage and black trumpet mushrooms, all garnished with pecorino romano.

Over a layer of Greek yogurt is red-beet hummus with pickled beets and a crunchy multi-grain topping, all garnished with beet greens and parsley.

Rosewater-pistachio parfait cream comes with a mixed citrus and fennel salad, candied pistachios, whipped Greek yogurt, and a tahini-and-agave-nectar powder.

If you want to see what it’s all about prior to the official opening (set for February 19), Launderette will host a benefit for the nonprofit Austin Food & Wine Alliance’s grant program on Tuesday, February 17. The multi-course dinner will feature a signature cocktail, wine pairings, and a dozen-plus items from Ortiz’s menu, including assorted crudos, “snacky bits,” and specialties like pork saltimbocca (with capers and prosciutto) and “sticky Brussels sprouts” (with apple-bacon marmalade). Dessert is Sawicki’s chèvre cheesecake with candied ginger ice cream. Tickets are $200 (which includes a $50 donation to AFWA) and are available at http://austinfoodwinealliance.org/.

Once Launderette is up and running, the chefs will focus on the second half of their endeavor, a Chinese take-out operation called Angry Bear, across the parking lot from Launderette, which is at 2115 Holly Street. More information will be available at www.launderetteaustin.com (at the time of writing, information on the site was very limited).

Besides Ortiz and Sawicki, the proprietors of Launderette and Angry Bear are Margaret Vera and Tracy Overath (the owners of Fresa’s Chicken al Carbon).

(Photos by Jody Horton)

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