A refashioned laudromat, gracefully posed as Launderette, defines creative opportunity. Though neighborhood restaurants such as LaV and Qui boast top-charted menus and interior finishes, the repurposing of an existing structure (once used to clean clothes) adds an unmatched charm and modish mood.
The hot neighborhood cafe with a cleverly eclectic menu, new to East Austin this year, jumped to the top of my friends' "must try" list upon our return to the beloved capital of Texas. We booked the community table an upwards of six weeks in advance for the Saturday night climax of our reunion weekend. And from birthday cake ice cream sandwich bites (with candles, of course) to craft cocktails and worldly cuisine, our meal at Launderette was no short of exceptional.
Our table of ten essentially covered the entire menu -- every bite knocked it out of the park. Our initial complaint of small portion size turned quickly into a blessing when we were essentially rolled out of the restaurant at 10:30 p.m.
The crowd favorite was debatable; I would attest that the toast duo (reminiscent of ABC Kitchen in NYC) of crab and soft egg were undeniably awesome. The crab toast was topped with avocado and fennel aioli on semolina bread. The soft egg toast (my personal favorite) holds asparagus, tallegio, truffle vinaigrette, and bottarga.
The creamy burrata appetizer also stole the hearts of many with its cashew and black mission fig medley and brown butter base. The accompanying grilled bread was so simple yet so satisfying. A few ordered the burrata for an entreé, simply because one bite wasn't enough.
Starters were stronger than entreés, in my opinion, though the housemade bucatini with shrimp and uni corn butter that I shared with a friend was richly rewarding. Sticky brussels sprouts almost challenged Uchiko's world-famous rendition, and the roasted cauliflower with mustard vinaigrette was wildly addictive.
Of course, we ended with the whimsical birthday cake ice cream sandwiches. I am so grateful I do not live in close proximity to this dessert, which could succeed on its own as a business. The cookie layer reminds me of childhood nights during which I'd sneak a bite of raw dough before placing on the baking sheet; the vanilla ice cream is speckled with colorful baby sprinkles. It's a true delight.