wine & dine
New restaurant and bar bring Alice in Wonderland whimsy to downtown Austin
A new wine garden and restaurant called The Guest House is setting up shop inside a downtown Austin high rise, capitalizing on the escapist, whimsical cocktail trend that has brought several Disneyified pop-ups and even more speakeasies. This one, based on a world without time in any normal sense, focuses on "timeless classics with a modern twist," according to a press release.
Spearheaded by Austin-based restaurant development and tech group inKind (Ember Kitchen, Subterra Agave Bar) and acclaimed chef Todd Mark Miller (Philadelphia's Barclay Prime), the concept will open its doors on the ground floor of The Northshore Austin in February 2024.
The 7,000-square-foot concept is the latest in a new trend of "social dining" that aims to attract the likes of tourists while also catering to the local urban Austin lifestyle. The adjoining enclosed patio spans 2,400 square feet, and the entire space draws inspiration from vibrant florals and Alice in Wonderland. The space also introduces a laid-back atmosphere with its lounge seating, large windows for sightseeing or people-watching, and an open bar area.
InKind CEO and Guest House partner Johann Moonesinghe explained in the release that his vision for the restaurant is to embody a classic hospitality that is a makes it a go-to "home away from home" destination.
"The Guest House will offer a lively bar, a dining room perfect for large parties, late-night dining, a fun brunch patio, a fantastic bread program, a memorable cocktail list and grab-and-go options, all within Austin’s bustling downtown," Moonesinghe shared.
The sumptuous offerings on The Guest House's dining menu span from seasonal raw oysters, to a 40-day dry-aged ribeye steak, or an inventive take on a "French Onion"-style burger made with Wagyu beef. Other must-try options include seared scallops; dosa caviar cakes with crème fraiche, chives, and saffron cured egg yolk; and the forest mushroom pizza topped with slow-cooked bacon, fontina cheese, and truffle.
The 40-day dry-aged ribeye is topped with peppers.Photo by TJ Perez
The Guest House's whimsical beverage program is led by Carla Lorenzo and Omar Douglas, with themed cocktails that take guests on a journey through the surrealist Lewis Carroll story that inspired the concept.
"One's journey may begin with the Tea Party, which is a seasonal sangria presented in theatrical teapots," the release says. "A further saunter down the rabbit hole may lead an adventurer into the Tulgey Woods, where they will find themselves on a forest floor, under a cotton candy tree, sipping on a playful margarita, surrounded with an aromatic fog."
Both old- and new-world wines will be included on the menu on a constantly-rotating basis, as well as local beer, ciders, and non-alcoholic beverages.
The Tugley Woods cocktail brings on the whimsy.Photo by TJ Perez
Award-winning pastry chef Brigette Contreras will take charge of the dessert menu, using her 12-plus years of experience to develop bright new takes on classic dishes like the lemon meringue pie, a flambéed bananas foster sundae with house-made ice cream, and New York cheesecake.
Los Angeles-based Gemini Bakehouse founder Conor Smith will provide freshly-baked bread at The Guest House, which can be ordered on the menu or taken to-go. The two-tone laminated brioche feuilletée is the most visually dynamic bread, which we're hoping is one of the takeaway options.
We'll take several to go, please.Photo by TJ Perez
Once open, The Guest House will serve dinner nightly beginning at 5 pm, with plans to expand operating hours to include weekend brunch and weekday lunch in the future. Dinner reservations can now be made for dates starting on Monday, February 12, via SevenRooms.