Hidden downtown cocktail lounge goes Italian with new chef and menu
Exciting new developments at Garage are bringing Italian flair to the super cool cocktail lounge. The team has brought in chef Tim Lane to create an innovative apertivo-inspired menu with modern takes on classic dishes, with lead bartender Jayson Black following suit with fun cocktails to match.
Lane, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu program in Austin, spent years working at Asti Trattoria with Emmett and Lisa Fox, where his love affair with the simplicity and quality of Italian food blossomed. After landing a position at WD~50 in New York, Lane followed with a job as sous chef for Cristina Bowerman at Glass Hosteria in Rome, where the pair earned a Michelin star that it holds to date. During Lane’s nine-year stint in Italy, his passion for fusing the fundamentals and the science of cooking. He decided to return to Austin to raise a family, landing at the downtown basement spot.
His menu offers interpretations of Italian favorites reimagined, striving to keep the kitchen zero waste, preparing everything in-house using seasonal products from local vendors as much as possible.
"My experience living and cooking in Italy for eight years inspired me to create a menu of sophisticated but approachable small plates heavily featuring umami, which pairs well with the garage cocktail program," says Lane. "I imagined myself taking a road trip through Italy, driving north to south and sampling each regions cuisine."
His vitello tonnato, typically thinly sliced cold veal topped with a tuna-flavored mayonnaise, pairs cubed raw ahi tuna with cured beef, thin-sliced fennel, arugula, and pickled peppers over puffed risotto. He offers a salmone mantecato, a specialty in Venice usually prepared with salt cod, reinvented as bites of salmon mousse wrapped with smoked salmon and garnished with pickled vegetables. For something heartier try the supplì al telefono, saffron rice croquettes stuffed with beef and pork sugo, with a sauce seasoned with calabrian chile.
At the bar, Black has designed libations using Italian inspiration and ingredients, and his love for molecular gastronomy. Be sure to try the Molto Buono, a playful interpretation of the Mai Tai served over crushed ice and made with Gra’it grappa and Cynar infused with Tiki spices; washed in coconut oil; and mixed with lime, house-made pistachio orgeat, and Negroni “caviar.”
Other favorites are the Watermark, made with tequila, watermelon-peppercorn shrub, lime, and honey, and the Coachwhip, featuring gin, matcha, milk wash, lemon, grapefruit, and blueberry grenadine. Ask Black for the back story of the name of this tasty cocktail.
Garage, located at 503 Colorado St. in the McGarrah Jessee parking garage, is open Monday through Saturday, from 5 pm to 2 am.