Changes are afoot at South Lamar wine bar Flour and Vine, which recently announced new ownership, staff, and management team.
Chef Vangel Bylyku and his brothers have taken over the space, implementing a few immediate changes like an upgraded patio, including movie nights and live music. He has brought on Michael Bradley, a service industry veteran with experience in Philadelphia, Louisville, and Austin as the new general manager/floor manager, and Jacob Hinojosa will be heading the bar program.
As a teenager, Bylyku emigrated from Albania to Greece. There, he developed a passion for culinary arts while working in the kitchens of hotels and resorts, where he was introduced to different local and international cuisines, including Mediterranean and Italian. He developed a passion for artistic presentation and food carving, and earned a gold medal in cold-kitchen and fruit carving in Athens. In 2004 he emigrated to Connecticut to reunite with his parents and brothers, continuing his culinary career, and he has recently relocated to Austin to pursue his restaurant dream.
The menu at Flour and Vine retains its Italian-inspired focus, and Bylyku plans on adding new signature dishes with a Mediterranean touch. On a recent visit, we sampled the shrimp ouzo risotto, featuring Gulf shrimp sautéed with garlic, ouzo, and red pepper, served with a creamy almond risotto and fresh avocado sauce; and the melanzana rollatini, thin eggplant slices filled with ricotta cheese, topped with marinara sauce and Parmesan and broiled until bubbly. Both were tasty and bode well for future visits.
In Hinojosa’s hands, the bar is going through some welcome changes, including a revamped wine list that focuses on boutique and small vineyard selections from smaller distributors, with a significant selection of Italian offerings. The list boasts 11 reds and whites, two rosés, and three sparkling wines by the glass.
“The bar has been my pride and joy,” says Hinojosa, who cut his teeth working alongside some of Austin’s best barmen at Fino and King Bee Lounge. He is using his own infusions, bitters, and syrups made from scratch in a nice selection of craft cocktails.
“The drink I'm most proud of is the Austin Sidecar, which not only looks appealing but is the tastiest sidecar Austin has ever seen,” he says with a smile. But don’t overlook the walnut fashion, made from rum, demerara, house-made walnut bitters, and an ice cube made from unfiltered fresh apple juice. He is also serving a generous supply of Texas beers and liquors, with an all-day happy hour Tuesday and Sunday and 4-6:30 pm Wednesday through Saturday, as well as a reverse happy hour from 9-11 pm.
There is free parking in the adjacent garage, and more cosmetic upgrades are in the works. For now, the name will remain the same, but it could change as things develop.