Category Archives: megan renart

DOMO ARIGATO, MR. ROBOTO: LUCKY ROBOT REVIEW

Have you heard about Lucky Robot?

It opened on South Congress next to Amy’s, where Zen used to be. But before I, Megan, get into any more details, I have two words —pardon me. THREE words for you:

Japanese Street Pizza!

I can’t stop thinking about it. Known as Okonomyiaki, it’s shrimp and Krab topped with kewpie mayo, a savory tonkatsu sauce, pickled ginger, scallions, bonito and sesame. I don’t know twenty seven of those words I just typed, but my stomach is nodding its head in agreement with me: hot damn, it’s good. And not just tasty — spooky too. The topping, the “bonito” part, moves. On its own. Like it’s alive.

To me, it looked like seaweed undulating silently underwater. I took a video of it, so if you’re extra curious, come over and we can stare at my iPhone together. According to local lore (the owner), it has something to do with the heat and the fact that bonito is delicate and paper-thin.

Back to the location: Adam Weisberg, who founded the local Japanese restaurant chain Zen, decided that with this particular location, he wanted to expand on what patrons love about Zen and create an elevated menu and restaurant experience.

The Adam Weisberg.

For instance: iPads dot each table.

You can order your drinks and various dishes after taking a fingertip tour through the menu. Nutritional info, price, and photos of each plate appear on the screen.

If you like, you can even pay your bill this way. This does not, however, mean that you don’t deal with any wait staff—they still serve you at all times.

“The iPads are really here for you to have fun,” says Adam. “You can course your meal your meal to be as slow or as fast as you like. You can rate it, too.”

Other fun features:
–A swing seat is suspended from the ceiling.

–The wait staff dresses in Harajuku street style.

–The menu offers gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian items (with many under $10).
–And, sake. Sake Punch, to be exact. Pretty darn tasty.

This one is the Green Manalishi: Junmai sake, lemon & lime juice, agave nectar, cucumber, cilantro, mint, serrano, magic.

The Orient Express: Cucumber-infused sake, lime, lemongrass, cucumber, fever tree bitter lemon. These punches are, as you can see, served in ginormous 42oz carafes.

We also tried:

Yummy sashimi, adorned with crispy shallot, cilantro, ponzu, and lemongrass soy.

Crisped brussell sprouts tossed in lemongrass soy — be still my beating heart.

This makimoto roll is grilled hanger steak, avocado, carrot, topped with shrimp and plated with that delicious, savory tonkatsu from the Okonomiyaki pizza, as well as green onions and spicy sauce.

A pretty little sashimi plate, made up of seared albarcoare, avocado, cucumber, serrano, cilantro, habernero oil, ponzu, and lime juice.

It was a slow burn, those bites.

And finally, dessert, which looks elegant in this picture, but was quickly and decisively ravaged.

 Blue yuzu donatsu and Mexican vanilla bean ice cream.

I will definitely be going back. Very soon. Maybe with this dinner companion, i.e., the most adorable girl in the world.

Links: LuckyRobotRestaurant.com, Lucky’s Robot’s Facebook, and @luckyrobotATX.

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BUTTONS BURSTING: DINNER AT UNCLE BILLY’S

Let’s talk about Uncle Billy’s, y’all.

A couple of weeks ago, I (Megan Renart) attended a “Wild Game Brewer’s Dinner” there, and I had all sorts of things stored up in the writing section of my brain to tell you about it. The food, how it was so good; the views from the room, and how they dazzled before the sun went down. But really, this post needs to be about Spencer Tielkemeier and Mike Ludlow: the food and drink wizards/heart-and-soul combo behind Uncle Billy’s On the Lake.

Spencer (on the right in this bottom pic) is the brewer. He is 25.

TWENTY FIVE.

He’s been with UB for only three months, and in that time, garnered gold at the Great American Brew Festival for the Bottle Rocket lager, along with Brian “Swifty” Peters. Uncle Billy’s is pretty proud of that.

Spencer majored in English at UT, and worked for 512 Brewing in delivery before joining UB as their brew master. If anything, Spencer’s astonishing timeline is a testament to how grassroots the Austin brew scene is, and how no formal training is needed. (But talent is paramount.)

Mike is the Executive Chef, and makes it a priority to create only locally sourced dishes, and frequents the Cedar Park farmers market as often as possible.

“We have so many good ingredients from 10 minutes away around here that there’s no need to go anywhere else,” he says, which explains why the goat cheese in our salad was the freshest, tastiest I’ve ever had. This means I’ll never again be able to purchase it in the grocery store and will now have to commit part of my life to raising baby goats in my apartment. Why, Mike?

Look at this little beauty. I’m not even a salad person and I loved it! Cheese from Pure Luck Farms; fruit from Heaven.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start from the beginning:

Ciabatta bread with goat cheese, pickled peppers and capers. Crunchy, creamy, tasty.

So there we were, primed for culinary greatness with this teasingly good morsel: Ciabatta bread with goat cheese, pickled peppers and capers. Crunchy, creamy and tasty, we had it with this drink:

This is blood orange juice mixed with Uncle Billy’s Agave Wit, and was gulped down by everybody quicker than any other drink during the course of the evening. It’s not just for nighttime, either — I think the mimosa now has some competition in the brunch beverage department.

First course: Texas quail locally sourced from Broken Arrow Ranch, stuffed with blueberries, fresh sage, and orange rind. Paired with Uncle Billy’s Agave Wit.

Would you guys think poorly of me if I told you that for the first five minutes upon receiving this, all I wanted to do was pick the quail up by its little arms and make it dance on the plate? Please be my friend.

Second: Rabbit Consomme made with rabbits from Countryside Farm in Cedar Creek, TX. The delicate broth was cooked over several hours with fresh tarragon, thyme and rosemary, and smelled like wood burning when it’s cold outside. Paired with Uncle Billy’s Axe Handle Pale Ale.

Third: Salad from heaven, served with Wit vinaigrette and paired with the award-winning Rocket Lager.

Fourth: Boar loin chops from Black Hill Ranch grilled with a sweet and spicy prickly pear glaze. Served with pine nut polenta (oh mah Lord, good) and fresh local-greens. Paired with Uncle Billy’s Vienna Lager.

Did you all know we are in the middle of a boar epidemic? We can solve this by eating them, or sending them to Xenu to live with L. Ron Hubbard.

Polenta tip from Mike: soak the polenta in a hoppy beer for 10-15 minutes; add cream, salt, pepper, and toasted pine nuts. Then, be quite pleased with yourself.

Last, but not least: Vanilla bean ice cream made with local duck eggs from Countryside Farm, paired with CASK Uncle Billy’s Lake Monster Imperial Stout. This pairing was met with a round of approving murmurs across the tables.

The ice cream was curiously gritty — I’ve never had to chew my ice cream before — but it was fantastic.

This was the first appearance of the brand new CASK Stout, which was chocolatey and deep.

“Darker beers are my wheelhouse,” said Spencer, after we complimented him a million times.

About the restaurant: Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que now has a second location next to the Oasis, and offers some pretty spectacular views, if you’re into beauty.

And if you are into beauty, here’s a final image for you—Nicki, photographer extraordinaire, enjoyed her meal so much that this happened:

HER BUTTON BURST!

(This is why I don’t wear clothes that have buttons when I eat. Just kidding, I do. But usually there’s food or drink distracting the viewer’s eye from any ‘straining’ on behalf of my garments.)

UPDATE 11.12.2012: Right after this post was published, we received some sad news that Uncle Billy’s on the Lake is closing. We wish the company the very best in all their future endeavors.

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OMNIVORES AND HERBIVORES WELCOME: SOUTH LAMAR TRAILER BAZAAR.

It was nine thousand, seventeen-hundred degrees when I (Megan) arrived around 6pm last Wednesday evening for the South Lamar Trailer Bazaar to sample dishes and meet the chefs from each trailer. The fronts of my knees were sweating since everywhere else on body was already taken with the process of sweating the sweat.

Do you see the sun trying to laser its way through the fabric?

Collie’s Real Serious Burgers, Tacos la Guera, Boxcar Bistro, Trai Mai Thai and Honky Tonk Hot Dogs are located next to Red’s Porch and have a gravel/dirt parking lot for people who like to 1.) drive and 2.) eat.

Where was I? Oh yes, sweating.

We were sweaty, and we were going to EAT, and we were going to do that as a group. (Makes me think of the old adage: There’s no “sweat” in “team”.)

Those aren’t misters…that’s HEAT, making things buuuuurn.

First up: Collie’s Burgers.

For the most part, our samples from Collie’s Burgers were dainty, and now, looking back, it makes me laugh that the daintiest sample of the entire bazaar was provided by the trailer that offers the meatiest, most hulking-est portions of food.

The burgers are a blend of chuck and brisket and are half-pound patties. Our samples (which were ground only 3 and a half hours earlier) were enough to give us the best idea of what the burgers are like, according to Rob Collie, burger chef extraordinaire.

Rob Collie

He knew he was the first on the roster, and didn’t want to overwhelm our stomachs right out of the gate. This kind of thoughtfulness is threaded throughout his approach: loving tributes to his lineage line the menu, with his grandmother Lexie’s coleslaw a staple on there (there’s also a burger named after her).

“All of my burgers have a story,” he says.

Have you heard the one about the Mason Farguson? Check out Collie relaying the tale on Thrillist.

So far, he says, only 13 year-old boys order the Mason.

Someone give this guy a show already. I’d watch it.

Karina from Tacos La Guera came by next, bearing homemade fresh tacos that are made to order.

Karina Ballesteros

“There are 27 tacos listed on our menu, but, with all of the ingredients available, you can create 120 different kinds,” she said. Well, don’t mind if I do!

The al pastor taco was quite tasty and had a pineapple salsa, I believe. I squeezed a wedge of lime on the inside and chomped away. I’m craving it again right now.

Karina beaming by her trailer.

Boxcar Bistro (headed up by Ivo Gruner, serving classic and casual French food) followed, with an elegant serving of chicken salad on mixed greens and a side of dressing. Fellow bazaar-goers were guessing aloud on the ingredients and suggested that apples, tarragon and walnuts comprised the salad.

Oui!” said Ivo.

Ivo then served a taste of his croque monsieur, which was actually the catalyst for his trailer. “I didn’t know where I could get a good one,” he admitted, so he opened the trailer to honor his French heritage.

The croque monsieur, just the way Ivo likes it.

Next up was Trai Mai Thai. Go ahead, try it! (Is this thing on?)

The background on this trailer is pretty darn cute: Ning’s cooking so wowed her boyfriend that he insisted she quit her job and open up her own place instead, and so he put forth the money for her trailer.

Me, swooning at their story.

And oh my God, can Ning cook.

This sample is just a fraction of what their menu offers, it’s so extensive.

The crab rangoon is made by hand by Ning, twice a week. It’s filled with blue crab meat from the Gulf of Mexico. See the dumpling on the plate? Heaven. It’s steamed, not fried, and filled with pork. The topping is fried garlic, which is enjoyably crunchy.

The soup seemed to be everybody’s favorite: Tom Kha (special guest star: the straw mushroom).

Their food is all made to order AND…they deliver! (In a very limited portion of 78704, but still — this food trailer delivers.)

Here’s another fun tidbit: free beer. Every Tuesday, they purchase a keg, and let people drink it until it floats (usually by Saturday evening). The limit is three per person but they don’t charge, AND you don’t have to buy any food either. Just come by and say “hai” to Trai Mai Thai.

This is when I heard the news about the free beer.

Last but not least was Honky Tonk Hot Dogs.

Singin’ n’ playin.’

About four months ago, Scott Angle (that’s him on the right) got the idea to open up a food trailer combining his love of two things: hot dogs and impromptu country music. Honky Tonk Hot Dogs was open six weeks later.

The atmosphere he aims to create is an actual honky tonk, complete with a peanut-shell covered dance floor. “It’s an experience,” he says.

Ah wait, excuse me: Scott’s third love is the spork. He’s been a fan of them ever since since he was a kid. “And it’s my right to bring them back!” he declared, and we cheered.

Serving us sporks.

Some of his gourmet dogs are named after Austin music legends who have agreed to support his business (like Dale Watson, Cindy Cashdollar, and Dallas Wayne).

Often, musicians will come by and play on the stage near the trailer before heading across the street to their gig at the Broken Spoke. And … Awesome Citizen Alert: in the near future, Scott is going to donate a portion of proceeds to HAAM.

Honky Tonk Hot Dogs is BYOB and uses 100% all beef hot dogs from the Vienna Beef Company in Chicago. 

This pretty little thing features pickled jalapenos and a dash of chili powder. The chili was served on the side (avec sporks) because Scott knew we’d be quite full at this point and wanted that to be an option. You should know that the (Dale Watson) chilidog is the most popular one on their menu, complete with Scott’s personal chili recipe.

What really struck me about everybody at the South Lamar Food Trailers is that, much like the good people I met at Casa Brasil and the South Austin Brewing Company, this is their heart’s work. It’s not their first job. This is what they’ve chosen to do: make people happy with their food.

“My grandfather and father once sat me down and told me that thing I should be doing is the thing I love and would do for free,” says Collie. “So I took their advice.”

So glad he did.

*And all trailers have vegetarian options, darlins. So mosey on by.

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UPS & DOWNS.

Last week, an email was sent my way courtesy of David Alan at The Tipsy Texan. In it, he described a new tour for Austinites: the Up & Down Tour, a behind-the-scenes look at the production of craft beer and craft coffee, taking place in both a coffee roaster and brewery who also happen to neighbors in South Austin. It was described as “Austin’s first harvest-to-home, grain-to-glass educational experience highlighting the arts of coffee roasting and beer brewing from raw material to finished product.”

So, consume coffee and reach amazing heights, then douse them in delicious alcohol, I (Megan) thought as I read the description.

I replied to David with, “OH HELL YAAAH!” (Swedish accent.)

AE photographer Nicki and I arrived at Casa Brasil Saturday morning and were greeted by an excited staff and smiling volunteers.

Rex, one of the volunteers, was the happiest to be there, it seemed. He was smiling the entire time.

And, he had a hand in creating the space: the coffee bar, where lessons are held, was built by him.

We introduced ourselves and lingered while the staff buzzed around, getting ready.

Rex asked if I was getting antsy to drink some coffee. I had to break it to someone here eventually, so I started with him: “I’m weird. I like coffee ice cream, but not coffee the liquid,” I explained.

He then mused aloud that perhaps I would prefer beer with my pastries instead. I said I wouldn’t object to that at all.

It was soon time to start class, led by Casa Brasil owner Joel Shuler with help from his team, including his wife, Lisiane. The goal? To show how cheap good coffee can be.

Joel Shuler

(A little history: Casa Brasil started as a cultural center in 2005 with the mission of:

1. Providing a place to touch and learn about Brazil.
2. Helping Brazilians living in Central Texas.
3. Promoting Brazilian culture.

It was through the cultural center that CB began to focus on coffee, and importing the best Brazilian coffee available. “As the coffee business grew, we decided that a better way to accomplish what we wanted to accomplish was through a direct trade win-win
business model,” says Joel.)

The CB team

Once the coffee tour started, it was clear: this guy meant business. He was prepared — he had a slideshow! “Growing coffee is as difficult and complex as wine,” he began.

A presentation followed with a history of coffee itself, including visuals like maps and illustrations and interesting anecdotes that Joel found during his research. We learned everything from cultivation (even examining the beans themselves) and harvesting to
transportation.

It was informative and funny — Joel is engaging and a passionate advocate of the artisanal side of coffee cultivation and consumption.

We took a tour, where Joel showed us their roaster. In fact, he willingly ruined a batch just to explain the process step-by-step.

Everything, EVERYTHING in Casa Brasil is done by hand, and done with incredible thought and care.

Lisiane hand paints every single bag.

Canning is done by hand, too.

According to Joel, canning by hand is fun “until you get to number 200.”

For the first part of our four-part tasting, little cups were placed in front of us containing Defect, Robust, Commercial, and Specialty samples.

Everybody here hates what they do.

Joel instructed us on how to determine the acidity, body, and nuances in each sip and noted that by the end of the tour, our tongues would be able to elicit such levels on our own, in addition to instantly recognizing a bad cup from a good cup, and a good cup from
a great one — just by its scent.

Bowing to his coffee gods.

We tried four different roast levels, followed by several different brewing methods. The air around me started crackling: people were actually consuming their entire samples and raising their adrenaline levels in violent, immediate spurts. Do you know how much caffeine that was in such a short time? If it had been alcohol, we would have been sitting around a cracked plywood coffee table in some dorm room playing Power Hour with tequila. It was simply reckless, I tell you.

Clearly, a defect sample.

By the time Ryan started to demonstrate how to brew a hand-made cup of coffee, I was crouched on the edge my chair like a gargoyle. I could have bench-pressed one of the trucks parked outside. This was the high I had been hoping for.

Barista Ryan Hall uses a Chemex, an all-glass brew device that allows you to see the entire process and make any changes necessary for your customized cup.

The entire team over at Casa Brasil is devoted to not just craft production but education as well. And their reach extends beyond coffee drinkers: Lisiane heads up “Sabor e Progresso Initiative,” where she helps Casa Brasil to empower coffee communities in her native Brazil, through programs like Casa Brasil’s Merit Scholarship Program for the children of coffee producers and English classes for coffee communities.

After lunch, which I digested through my rapidly beating heart alone, it was time to enjoy some beer, so we vibrated across the parking lot to the South Austin Brewing Company. It officially opened in February, and specializes in Belgian beer only.

Interesting fact: Austin’s water is the closest to Belgium’s, enzymatically speaking. Lake Travis has “superior minerals” according to brewmaster Jordan Weeks, due to the way it percolates through limestone caves. (And if something sounds scientifically wrong with that sentence, remember that I was scribbling these notes while in the midst of playing roulette with my adrenal system.)

Jordan Weeks.

Jordan uncorked a bottle and we held our breath as the top went sailing in an arc over our heads, and then laughed with relief when it hit the back wall. Then everyone else laughed when it bounced off the wall and hit my cheekbone. I wrote down the names of everyone I saw laughing.

Chris Oglesby, event director, who told me about “Groovy Sunday”: from 3-7pm each week, SABC hosts an open house with bands, foodtrucks, and games led by the Austin Jaycees.

Jordan led us through the brewery and let us peek into the hot, steamy machines.

He described the entire process from malting to mashing to boiling to hop additions to fermentation.

Jordan also taught us about bottle conditioning and proper serving. (Interesting/depressing fact: The imported Belgian beers we  love so much don’t come close to tasting what they should actually taste like after being transported for weeks on cargo and trucks that are not temperature-regulated. Which just means that we all have to go to Belgium.)

And oh, how we sampled.

We tried the Golden Ale (light, bright and refreshing) and the Saison D’Austin (bold, peppery, with citrus notes).

They were wonderful. South Austin Brewing Company grew out of Jordan’s love for Belgian Ale, which is quite evident — he’s relaxed, he’s happy to be in his element, he welcomes questions.

And alas, it was time for the tour to end.

Nicki and I toasting to our Saturday.

All in all, a great experience and quite heartening to meet such dynamic people who are committed to craft, community, and education.

Some quick facts:

The Up & Down Tours — which premiere this Saturday, August 11 — will take place from 10am to 2pm on the second Saturday of every month. You can register online here.

Classes take place at Casa Brasil and South Austin Brewing Company, located at 415 East St. Elmo Road, Austin, TX 78745.

Ticket price of $75 includes a Casa Brasil or South Austin t-shirt, one pound of fresh coffee, a South Austin Brewing glass, breakfast pastries, and lunch catered by prominent local restaurants and bakeries.

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AUSTIN, RECLAIMED.

by Megan Renart of Renard Parish (that’s a True Blood joke, y’all!)

This is Dom.

Dominick Luciano

Dom is the kind of friend that everyone wants: If he hasn’t been the best man in almost every wedding he’s invited to, he’s at least in the wedding party. Need someone to grab the other end of the heaviest piece of furniture you have left in your UHaul at midnight on a Tuesday? Call Dom. Want to bring a friend along to an awkward holiday work party and have him charm every female supervisor so that he’s voted Employee of the Month by the end of the night? Bring Dom.

Last summer, his girlfriend Juliette created a Dom-centric Austin Chronicle for his birthday, and it was filled to the brim with contributions—everyone was more than happy to offer kind, funny, and clever words about him.

In addition to exceling at being a friend, he’s a crack whiz at corporate-y, business-y stuff, and he’s an incredibly talented artist. He has a disturbingly good way—no matter where he is—of spotting an object your eyes would glaze over, seeing its potential, and knowing exactly what steps to take to bring it to his envisioned end result.

When he bought his house several years ago, he furnished it with these beautiful, conversation-starting pieces. “Wow!” I would exclaim, standing with wide eyes in front of his stone fireplace whose interior featured a weathered glass window pane backlit by lights and clearly came from an antique store for $250. “Where did you get this?”

“The salvage yard,” he’d look up and say, before bending his head back down over whatever vegetables he was chopping for dinner. This happened over and over.

It was like fiddling with a Rubik’s cube for hours and finally handing it over to an expert for assistance, and after a few seconds he hands it back, completed, but instead of a cube, it’s a shipping pallet from HEB that’s been refinished and now hangs on the wall as a shelf.

Yes. A shipping pallet. Dom found this at HEB, asked politely, took it home, sanded it down, stained it & added lacquer for shine, and now it holds pictures and other beloved items.

And this is Mary.

Mary Daniels

Mary moved to Austin two years ago from Florence, where she led tourists across its many bridges and cobblestone streets by bicycle. And that’s how she heard about Austin.

“I really liked what these cyclists were saying about their city; how proud they were,” she says. “So I moved here without knowing anybody or much else about Austin.”

Mary is a jaw-droppingly good painter.

The texture on this kills me. Doesn’t Bob’s hair look like it’s protruding from the canvas?

See that guitar over there on the right? From Goodwill. It was hollowed out, and then Mary painted a spotlight that beams down on the silhouette of musician (Bob Dylan) on the bottom. Eee gads, that’s gorgeous. And inventive. (Also: note the skateboard on the shelf with a vista painted on the back.)

Together, Dom and Mary are Reclaimed Austin. They restore forgotten furniture pieces from the past and transform them into beautiful, functional pieces for the home. “We pride ourselves on our green approach to restoration and we believe good design can be affordable,” says Dom.

I want this! Made with river brush from the greenbelt: Cedar, oak and ash sticks cut in 2-3 inch cross-sections. Add a convex mirror et voila!

This old TV cart was in rough shape: it had torn-up particle board inserts and faux wood paneling tape lining all the sides. Dom removed the tape, used a steel brush to eliminate some minor rust, and added 4 coats of metallic paint. He then took solid wood slats from a salvaged mattress box spring, and stained and sealed them for the final polished look.

Dom and Mary’s motto? Where rescued pieces become inspired designs.

And this is how my disgusting TV stand that was a bookshelf from Target and perilously close to being thrown out was transformed into one of my favorite pieces.

Just look at this repulsiveness. (I can’t believe I’m sharing this with you.)

This bookshelf is living in Barf City.

Wires snaking out from the shelves, slashes of different paint on the corners, a sadly outdated TV, and a box filled with even more wires and random accouterment from around my house that I haven’t found a place for yet.

It is an eyesore, and does not reflect the way the rest of my space is decorated. I would describe this area as “vomitous”.

As I was fixing the bookshelf with a withering stare and planning on tossing it off my balcony, Dom called from the salvage yard, demanding its measurements. He found this beautiful flooring, you see, and decided it would be affixed to the trim of the bookshelf.

It cost four dollars.

Mary and Dom arrived with a basket full of power tools and immediately started sanding the varnish off of the top, then began cutting the wood with a jigsaw.

Next, furniture glue. “Use the snake method: apply glue in this shape to avoid bubbles. Because bubbles in glue are a disaster,” warns Dom menacingly as he sits inside my bookshelf and concerned neighbors peek through their blinds.

I like to call this method “Mustard on a Hot Dog” instead.

Then, drillin’ n’ holdin’.

And now, paint.

(Small backstory: I had intended to paint one accent wall in my apartment. But I couldn’t settle on one I was fully on board with, so I wound up with a cluttered collection of tiny blue and grey sample jars. Last week I decided I would paint each square of cinderblock a different sample color, just because.)

So we took a few of these colors and decided that the brightest blue would be applied on the inside, with a silver-grey shade on the top and sides, and a muted grey-blue adorning the new trim.

We painted like this: la la la la la la la.

A little clear varnish later, some staging with some clear IKEA placemats, random liquor bottles and wine glasses, my sorry TV, and. . .we have a winner.

You must pretend this TV is a flat screen. You must…for the children.

It’s the first thing you see when entering my place, which is why, when we finished, I left and came back in several times in a row. And maybe clapped.

And we lived happily ever after.

The number of items they’ve transformed is astonishing, considering that this is not their day job and they only started a few months ago. In fact, Reclaimed Austin was actually created while Dom and Mary were at work. They would often come in each morning, hold out their iPhones and swipe through images of side projects they completed the night before.

“Both of us make stuff for our own houses and friends…that’s how it all started,” says Dom. “We don’t have a lot of money to spend to furnish our places. I redid my dining room chairs, and Mary loved them, and so she showed me a wall of pallets that she hung up on her wall. We started sharing our creative ideas.”

Picked up at a salvage yard.

Made from old reclaimed siding from an old SE Austin bungalow.

The W.E.S.T. art tour was the decisive factor: they both agreed, after expressing admiration for the other’s work for so long, that it was time to pull the trigger and show some pieces. Every night after work and every weekend leading up to the tour, they would scour salvage yards, thrift stores, and bulk trash pick up for potential items. A couple bucks for paint here and there, and a little elbow grease there, there, and there, and they had a gallery.

34 of their 40 pieces were sold that weekend.

Reclaimed Austin.

Different strengths have never complemented each other so perfectly: “Mary brings a more artistic sense to the pieces with her talent, and I can do carpentry, so it’s a good collaboration,” says Dom.

I would agree.

Check them out on Facebook to see what they’re working on next: facebook.com/ReclaimedAustin

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