Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wow, here's what my waistline doesn't need: A place that specializes in beer and baked goods. Yeesh. Nonetheless, I'm sure you'll see me there.
Easy Tiger!
Much-Anticipated Bake Shop & Beer Garden to Open January 23

AUSTIN – January 13, 2012 – Bread and beer. The simple commonality is yeast, but superior products require tremendous technical expertise—and time. Respect for that concept is really the core of Easy Tiger, a new bake shop and beer garden from ELM Restaurant Group (the folks behind 24 Diner) opening January 23 at 709 E. Sixth Street. Even the name is meant to convey the message of “slow down, stay awhile.”

At the heart of the street-level bake shop is artisan baker David Norman. David’s pedigree includes head-baking positions at Grand Central Bakery (leading artisan bakery in Pacific Northwest), TriBakery (supplying NY greats such as Tribeca Grill and Nobu), Ecce Panis (NY, NJ) and Bouley Bakery (NY). Peek inside the hand-lettered storefront, and you’ll find a Parisian pink counter lined with salvaged bakery pans. Directly behind, steel-lined glass panels afford a view of the open bakery, where you can watch David and his team turning out baguettes, French country levain, rye bread, German pretzels, Danish, turnovers and more all day long. Step in and request a specialty coffee made from Texas Coffee Traders’ locally roasted beans or an organic tea along with a pastry (bonjour, pain au croissant), sandwich (try the ham & whipped butter on baguette) or loaf of your choice, perhaps joined by a selection from Antonelli’s Cheese Shop.

Lunch, dinner and late-night guests can follow the blinking arrow and hand-lettered subway sign downstairs to the beer garden and patio overlooking Waller Creek. Libations are overseen by CIA graduate and 24 Diner sommelier Billy Caruso, and the menu features cocktails, a carefully edited wine list, unique bombers and 30 craft beers on tap, including locally produced faves Real Ale and Jester King and boutique domestics such as Avery, Lagunitas and Ommegang.

Beer garden provisions are dominated by another product that requires culinary skill and time: house-cured meats. This is the domain of 24 Diner’s executive chef, Andrew Curren, a CIA valedictorian who worked for top New York restaurateurs Danny Meyer and Jonathan Waxman before returning to his home state. Drew’s devotion to the farm-to-table movement and meticulous preparation of chef-inspired comfort food at 24 helped earn him a nomination for People’s Best New Chef from Food & Wine magazine/CNN’s Eatocracy and a run on Bravo’s Top Chef: Texas last fall. Drew’s menu features housemade sausages, jerky, corned beef and pastrami, as well as homemade krauts, relishes and peperonata—which you can accompany with bread made in the bakery just upstairs.

24 Diner designer Veronica Koltuniak of VeroKolt (clients include Madonna, Courteney Cox and Jennifer Lopez) looked across the ages as she transformed the two-story 1890s space, calling the resultant mix “turn-of-the-century building meets end-of-the-century kitsch.” Cool details abound in the bakery and downstairs tavern, from pink-and-black cameo wallpaper and vintage brass accents to hand-painted wooden tables and a carefully curated selection of books, games and art. Long custom communal tables line the massive outdoor patio while three ping-pong tables roost on the banks of Waller Creek. Need a visual? Roni cites The Royal Tenenbaums as inspiration.


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