I fell in love with the idea of Lenoir before it even opened. I was already an unabashed fan of husband and wife chef team Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher at their respective previous gigs at TRIO at the Four Seasons and Dai Due. When they told me they were opening their own place, I knew it would become a favorite – that ideal combination of excellent food, lovely service and a welcoming atmosphere.
Dining at Lenoir feels like having dinner at Todd and Jessica’s home. It has a casual intimacy, even at the communal tables, that invites you to relax and savor the meal while sipping one of the expertly selected wines selected by Sommelier Mark Sayre. The servers are friendly, helpful and engaging, encouraging you to explore the menu.
They call the cuisine “hot weather” food, flavors from around the world with a similar climate to Austin. You might find a soup inspired by Vietnamese pho or a distinctly Italian pasta on the same night and yet, Chef Duplechan makes the diversity work without feeling discordance. I particularly love any dish that features Chef Duplechan’s housemade sour sausage or pho style broth.
Diners choose three dishes for $38 from a menu with four sections: Field, Sea, Land and Dream, with the option to add a fourth course for an additional $10. The prix-fixe style lets you follow your whimsy. If the three seafood dishes strike your fancy, you are welcome to order from that section alone. The dishes change often because Lenoir sources locally, so you are guaranteed to never get bored.
Though I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, I always enjoy Chef Maher’s desserts which are inventive and well-balanced. Her dish with midibleu spanish roquefort, caramelized pound cake, grapefruit and ras el hanout is the perfect balance of savory and sweet for someone who usually skips the dessert course.
For a more casual evening or to ease into dinner, enjoy drinks and snacks in the backyard wine garden, listening to tunes from the record player or local musicians. Happy hour in the wine garden is a particularly good deal with half off small plates and $6 house wines from 5:00-7:00 pm Tuesday through Friday.
Lenoir is the perfect spot for those nights when you want to indulge the palette without breaking the bank and be treated with tender loving care. Todd and Jessica are very special people and its no surprise that their restaurant reflects who they are in every detail.
1807 South First
Hours: Tues – Sat, Seating from 5 pm – 10:30 pm
Sunday, Seating from 6 pm – 8:30 pm