A taste of the year's bright­est new­com­ers in the restau­rant world and a look ahead to 2013

Ex­cit­ing spa­ces, ex­cep­tional chefs, in­trigu­ing cuisines re­ward the ad­ven­tur­ous.

Austin American-Statesman - - 2012 FOOD & DRINK - By Matthew Odam modam@states­man.com

First-time restau­rant own­ers thrilled and thrived with their maiden ven­tures in 2012, while sea­soned restau­ra­teurs added to their port­fo­lios of suc­cess­ful es­tab­lish­ments.

Stand­out new­com­ers in­cluded in­ven­tive Asian cui­sine in an un­ex­pected north­west lo­ca­tion, com­fort­ing small plates down­town, tra­di­tional Ital­ian up­town, clas­sic Mex­i­can in the Rainey Street District and, south of the river, some of the best food in the city.

Be­low I take a look at the five most ex­cit­ing restau­rant open­ings of the year and peek at 10 places we’ll be tast­ing in 2013.

1. Lenoir

1807 S. First St. 2159778, lenoir­restau­rant.com

My New­comer of the Year charms, chal­lenges and en­chants. Chef-own­ers Todd Du­plechan and wife Jes­sica Mah-er’s restau­rant features an ethe­real yet rus­tic de­sign and a small but var­ied menu that de­liv­ers “hot weather cui­sine,” with fla­vors rang­ing from North­ern Africa to South­east Asia but all tied to Texas and the Gulf Coast. The mostly Euro­pean wine list, cu­rated by Mark Sayer of Trio at the Four Sea­sons, is in­trigu­ing de­spite its lim­ited size, and the knowl­edge­able servers at this in­ti­mate restau­rant can help guide you through thought­ful

JOSH RAS-

Lenoir’s ta­bles (top) are metic­u­lously set each day and the lights help set the mood. Axis veni­son (left) wrapped in wild ramps with fava bean ravi­oli and parsnips. Fish curry with toasted poha crust (right), shaved as­para­gus and dill.

MUSSEN / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

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