Austin would never be mistaken for Paris, but new French brasserie Le Politique is aiming to transform one corner of downtown into a reasonable facsimile of the City of Light, starting on September 24. Read on for a preview of the restaurant before the official opening day.
Chairs, in the unmistakable brasserie style, figure prominently in the mood of Le Politique, the latest project from Austin-based hospitality company New Waterloo. The brasserie and raw bar will also have a patisserie and coffee shop, plus outdoor seating. The restaurant will be located on the lower floor of the Northshore apartment complex at 110 San Antonio (at Second Street).
Le Politique was originally going to be called Chez Nada, but that idea was scrapped in favor of a name that references Austin’s status as the political capital of Texas. Counting both the dining and sidewalk area, the restaurant will have seating for more than 200.
New Waterloo has been slowly expanding its Austin footprint since the opening of La Condesa. It also has Sway, the South Congress Hotel (with its restaurants Otoko, Café No Se, Central Standard, and Mañana), Goodall’s Kitchen in the Hotel Ella, and Pao in Miami.
Custom-designed plates have political associations: tiny hands with crossed fingers (“king’s X” and “pinky swears”). Other dinnerware is majolica in the shape of cabbage leaves—très French.
Joe Holm and Sam Manning of well-known Austin architectural firm Clayton & Little handled the design and build-out.
A long raw bar will feature mountains of seafood on ice, including an assortment of oysters on the half shell (changing daily), little neck clams, Gulf shrimp, bouchot mussels, and more.
The Grand Plateau of seafood comes tricked out with oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, a whole lobster, and crab claws. Still hungry? Treat yourself to caviar (four kinds, including Golden Osetra) with toasted brioche and the classic accompaniments.
Bud vases were custom designed and thrown by a potter from Little Rock.
Classically trained executive chef Derek Salkin's resume includes stints at the French Laundry in California, Per Se in New York, and Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas. A specialty of his menu at Le Politique will be poulet roti, half a succulent, well-crisped chicken with mushrooms, peas, braised lettuce, cheesy pommes Aligot, and sauce vin jaune.
Libations call for sustenance in the form of daily specials: socca niçoise (chick-pea crepes with warm crab and shrimp salad) on Monday; duck confit on Tuesday; bouillabaisse on Wednesday; roasted quail with crawfish tails on Thursday; sole meunière on Friday; pan-roasted ribeye with potatoes on Saturday; and roasted saddle of lamb on Sunday.
Executive pastry chef Alyssa Hurlstone also worked as chef de partie at the French Laundry, in Yountville, California, as well as pastry sous chef at Pao in Miami Beach. New classics like crepe cake will be on her menu of sweets.
Or you can just settle in with a cheese plate and a glass of wine from the all-French list and watch downtown Austin’s boulevardiers and building cranes.