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Where to Eat Now 2014

No. 7 Sway


Photograph by Jody Horton

There are plenty of Thai restaurants in Austin where culinary purity and penny-wise prices prevail. Sway is not one of them. With a dining room defined by massive communal tables, this hip newcomer plays fast and loose with tradition. It sends forth from its busy open kitchen a stream of dishes inspired by the famously controversial modern Thai cooking of Sydney, Australia. How to sum up Sway? Hard to do, but its flavors are boisterous, with a predilection for sweet, sour, and spicy. The starter of choice is prawn miange (above), four heart-shaped betel leaves piled with chilled prawns and moistened with a sinus-clearing blend of tamarind, palm sugar, lime, grapefruit, toasted coconut and cashew, chiles, and fish sauce. Going in a different, Chinese-inspired direction, “Salt + Pepper” dishes include tender blue prawns accented with fermented black beans and roasted Thai chiles. Desserts are unforgettable, like the affogato and the haunting jasmine tea panna cotta with coconut-lychee sorbet. Although the founding team, chef Rene Ortiz and pastry chef Laura Sawicki, left last August to start another restaurant, talented Alexis Chong has stepped into the lead position without missing a beat. Opened December 9, 2012. 1417 S. 1st (512-326-1999). L & D 7 days. $$–$$$


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