Mysterious East Austin restaurant finally spills secrets on opening plans
UPDATE: Rosewood announced on May 9 that dinner and bar service will begin on May 15. However, a heat barrier issue on May 9 caused an evacuation of the restaurant and the opening will be delayed until modifications can be made. The owners will announce a new opening date in the coming days.
In Austin’s gossipy hospitality world, it is rare to keep concepts under wraps. But the team behind the mysterious project taking over the space formerly occupied by East End Wines at 1209 Rosewood Ave. managed to do just that, leaving food obsessed locals with only a few clues: a name, a few architectural renderings, and a handful of details from TABC filings.
On March 22, the owners of the upcoming Rosewood spilled a few more secrets and revealed they will be opening the restaurant's doors by the end of April. The new project is the work of chef Jesse DeLeon and his business partner and brother-in-law Chas Spence. DeLeon has worked in several restaurants in town, including Geraldine’s in the Hotel Van Zandt, Vespaio, and Zoot, the much-missed West Austin eatery from Wink chef/owners Mark Paul and Stewart Scruggs.
In 2016, DeLeon and Spence branched out on their own to launch Victoria Provisions, a coastal dinner pop-up series named after the South Texas town, with plans to eventually find a permanent home. According to a release, Rosewood will have much the same focus, taking South Texas cuisine as an inspiration and using ingredients sourced from the Texas Hill Country and the Gulf.
The Rosewood team did not offer many details of how that will actually transfer to the plate. In the release DeLeon said, “I developed Rosewood's menu to be simultaneously familiar and surprising,” but did not offer any examples of dishes he is working up. Currently, the restaurant website has not posted menus and the Facebook page does not offer any photos of prospective dishes.
The rotating menus posted for Victoria Provisions, however, do offer some intel to DeLeon’s approach. Dishes are presented in the currently fashionable style (spelling out lower case ingredients without detailing techniques), but the components are familiar and approachable, largely avoiding the international arsenal of za’atar, gochujang, and yuzu seen on the menus of many local New American chefs.
DeLeon and Spence brought on a couple of industry vets to help with the pastry and beverage programs. Pastry chef Aria Alba (Mattie's, Odd Duck, McGuire Moorman Hospitality) will be handling the sweets while beverage director Benjamin Levario (Parkside Projects, Swift’s Attic) will handle the bar, which will serve cocktails using seasonal indigenous ingredients, wine from family-owned wineries, and beer from Texas breweries.
The design, helmed by Mark Odom Studio’s namesake architect (Bonhomie, Bumble headquarters), was careful to keep the spirit of the original 1890s Victorian home. The space will include a small bar, a 12-table main dining room, a 12-seat private dining room, a chef’s counter, and a large deck open to a lawn. The latter was done by landscape architect Word Design (Green Pastures, Hotel San Jose) to mimic residential gardens and blend in with the surrounding neighborhood.
Initially, Rosewood will only serve dinner. The team promises to add brunch and lunch in May.