From the moment you meet Chef Brian Malarkey, co-star of TV series The Taste and a finalist on Top Chef, you know that he loves what he does. His passion for great food is apparent, whether leading a demonstration at the Austin Food & Wine Festival or being interviewed by Food Republic, sitting on the edge of his chair, grinning widely and bouncing with excess energy as he talks about his various culinary projects.
Fortunately, Chef Malarkey is bringing his enthusiasm to Austin by way of his upcoming restaurant in the Warehouse district, Searsucker. The restaurant, slated to open in early June, will be the third location for his popular new American cuisine concept and will offer a menu of small plates and larger entrees featuring playful takes on traditional dishes like farm bird lollipops, chicken and waffles and a beef tongue and cheek dish with agave. The menu is tailored for sharing, encouraging guests to socialize and linger as they sip hand-crafted cocktails, craft beer and select wines from around the world.
Malarkey and business partners James Brennan of the Enlightened Hospitality Group (EHGRP) picked Austin because of its dynamic restaurant and music scene. “We don't want to come in and be different,” he says. “We want to come in and be part of the Austin family.”
Searsucker is taking over the space previously occupied by Maria, Maria, a 7,000 square foot site that has had difficulty holding on to long-term tenants. Malarkey said the first thing Designer Thomas Schoos did was open up the space and highlight the natural beauty of the building — brick, beams and sky lights that were hidden in previous designs.
“We ripped out all the stuff that did that building injustice,” says Malarkey. “We tore down the dividing walls and made it a big open floor plan.”
Guests can now see into the formerly hidden kitchen, becoming part of the action. Diners looking for more adventure can sit at the chef’s counter where they can enjoy the Chef’s Whim package, during which the kitchen will serve counter guests special dishes until, in Malarkey’s words, “you throw in the towel.”
The restaurant also includes a space for guests to enjoy live music, creating what Malarkey hopes feels like an adult playground. “I want people to come early and stay late,” he says. “Come have a couple of bites at the bar or meet your friends, hang out on the couch, then go eat. It’s a big house party.”
Searsucker is slated to open in early June at 415 Colorado St. and will serve weekday lunch, dinner daily, and brunch on Sundays, as well as a late night menu until 2 a.m. on weekends.