EATER AUSTIN | by Melanie Haupt | February 17, 2016
Vinaigrette converted the former TreeHouse Italian Grill site into a green oasis dedicated to fresh salads with an emphasis on organic fresh produce, which opens today. This is the third location for the Santa Fe, New Mexico-based restaurant, which retained the framework from the dark old bistro but opened it up for a brighter "mid-century modern farmhouse" look and feel.
The sunny space reflects owner Erin Wade's dedication to healthy eating and sustainability. Just as with the New Mexico operations, the Austin location will use goods from Wade's Bastrop farm, which is being developed right now, keeping the menu local and seasonal. What's more, all food waste goes back to the farm to serve as animal feed and compost.
Special to Austin is the brand-new cocktail menu, which was inspired by The Drunken Botanist cocktail book. Wade wanted to feature drinks that people can incorporate into a healthy lifestyle, which translates into low-alcohol, juice-based, and veggie-forward concoctions. This means turmeric mimosas, Purple Russians with purple cabbage, fennel, pineapple juice, vodka, and Cynar, and frozen margaritas with mangos and carrots or grapefruit.
Diners can enjoy the new cocktails and seasonal salads on an outside patio that features an ancient live oak tree, and surrounded by what Wade describes as "a "grassland meadow theme" to go with the tree. There will eventually be an outdoor bar with room for private events. Folks who can't stay can get salads and sandwiches to go.
Depending on how things go here in Austin, Wade may also bring Modern General feed and seed, a minimalist grocery that dovetails with Vinaigrette's mission, to town. In the meantime, take a look inside this urban mecca for contemporary healthy eating, which opens its at 11 a.m. today.