New Austin Wine Restaurant and Shop Underdog to Open on South First

A new wine restaurant and retail store will open this year in South Austin, run by the couple and partners Richard Hargreave, a Momofuku alum, and Claudia Lee. Underdog, located at 1600 South First Street in the future Willa mixed-use development in Bouldin Creek, will open in the fall of 2022.

The wine list will reflect the sensibilities of Hargreave and Lee: he is a sommelier who runs a wine import business in Los Angeles, focusing on biodynamic wines and managed wine programs for the group’s restaurants. Momofuku in Sydney, New York, Las Vegas and, more recently, Majordomo in Los Angeles. ; she worked in events, public relations and for the French aperitif company Pernod Ricard, and, while they lived in Los Angels, had sent wine recommendations to her friends in Austin or even bottles when certain labels were not available in town.

When it comes to food, Lee and Hargreave want to offer something different from the typical French and Italian-influenced New American menu found in many wine bars. Lee is Korean American and his parents run several sushi restaurants in Los Angeles, while Hargreave says his experiences at Momofuku “opened our eyes to serving wine with bolder, umami flavors,” he says. , referring to career experiences in Australia where he enjoyed the diversity of foods and techniques. Underdog’s menu will reflect these tastes and experiences which he sums up as “Asian Australian with a Texan influence”.

The couple appointed Australian chef Morgan McGlone to develop the menu as a consultant to Underdog. More recently, he opened the Australian mini-chain of hot chicken restaurants Belles Hot Chicken. Prior to that, McGlone was the executive chef at Southern Husk’s Nashville restaurant. He also runs a roast chicken restaurant, Sunday Potts Point, in Sydney.

Claudia Lee and Richard Hargreave.
David Higgs

Underdog is sure to serve fried chicken in a Korean-Japanese-South style. Other potential dishes include ebi katsu (shrimp cutlet) burgers, mussels served in sake broth, yuba salad and, in general, dishes “in an effort to show people that the combinations of food and wines can be so varied and exciting,” says Hargreave. There will also be caviar.

The pair previewed potential dishes for Underdog at a pop-up event in Los Angeles in late February. They served radishes with dashi butter and nori powder, oysters with kimchi dressing, and crispy rice with whipped cod roe and bottarga shavings.

“We just wanted to be a fun place where there’s no pretension… We want people to be able to experience wine without feeling intimidated,” says Hargreave.

The physical space will include the wine bar and restaurant with indoor dining and terrace, then a retail section with wine bottles and other products. It is planned to organize tastings and other events. Architect Drew Randall of Element 5 Architecture and Lilianne Steckel Interior Design are leading the construction.

The name works on several levels. First, they adopted a rescue dog, Squid, which is featured in the logo. Second, they view many of the wine producers they work with as outsiders. Many of these small winemakers often sent photos of their vineyards that included their dogs, Lee says.

During the pandemic, Hargreave and Lee’s jobs ended in Los Angeles, and they decided it was time to open their own restaurant and decided to move to Austin. Bouldin Creek The neighborhood was ideal for them because it offered “the perfect combination of Old Austin charm and a vibrant restaurant scene that already exists,” says Hargreave. Newcomer 1417 (oddly enough, this space was home to Sway, which focused on modern Thai with Aussie inflections), Elizabeth Street Cafe, Word of Mouth Bakery, Bouldin Creek and a bunch of Tex-Mex restaurants are nearby; the Willa development will also include the third Austin Picnik restaurant location.

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