Famed Chef Is Opening a New Austin Restaurant With a Serious Spanish Twist In the City’s Hot New Hotel — Luminaire Is Here
The Food Maestro Behind San Antonio's Cured Makes a MoveBY Courtney Dabney // 01.31.23
An array of grilled Delgado chops will be served per piece at Luminaire. (Photo by Mary Whitten)
Chef Steve McHugh is opening his first restaurant in Austin named Luminaire.
Compressed melon plated with honeycomb, cotija cheese, and anchovy. (Photo by Mary Whitten)
Behold the Ham Bar or aging vault filled will cured meats, chef Steve McHugh's underlying passion. Photo by Mary Whitten.
Smoked tomato tartare by chef Steve McHugh. Photo by Mary Whitten.
Countertop seating inside Austin's new Hyatt Centric at Luminaire restaurant. Photo by Mary Whitten.
Rustic soups include the butternut squash porrusalda soup. Photo by Mary Whitten.
The table is set at Luminaire, which opens February 1 along Congress Avenue in Austin.
Luminaire's Chicken a La Plancha. Photo by Mary Whitten.
Something new is coming to downtown Austin. It’s a sparkling modern restaurant set in an area rich in history. As the Hyatt Centric rolls onto Congress Avenue, it is bringing along one famous chef and his newest food hotspot. PaperCity caught up with Chef Steve McHugh for a sneak peek of what’s in store at Luminaire.
McHugh’s award-winning Cured made quite a splash in San Antonio’s The Pearl development. Cured is located in Pearl Brewing’s former administration building. Cured, which opened there nine years ago, is a master class in the art of charcuterie. Now, the six-time James Beard Award finalist is hitting Austin.
The Wisconsin-born chef has made San Antonio his home since he moved there in 2010, becoming one of the city’s most celebrated chefs. McHugh also has his Landrace restaurant, which opened in 2013. It focuses on heritage growers and local ingredients, all overlooking the famed River Walk.
Now it’s on to Austin. Luminaire is opening in the highly-anticipated Hyatt Centric Congress Avenue hotel. McHugh had trouble locating a space without construction noise at the busy work site to discuss the food and drinks he has planned, but he assures me it’s right on track and will be opening this Wednesday, February 1.
The new 246-room, 31-story Hyatt Centric is located next door to the historic Paramount and State theaters in downtown Austin, just blocks from the Texas Capitol building. Luminaire comes with an eighth-floor lobby bar called Las Bis with an outdoor terrace. Having check-in on a higher floor is a hotel trend and the Austin’s new Hyatt Centric is all in.
Both the restaurant and bar names are an affectionate nod to nearby landmark theaters.
“Luminaire means lighting, and it harkens back to a theatre’s spotlights and footlights,” McHugh tells PaperCity. “And Las Bis means encore, another appropriate theatre term.
“The more I walk the streets of downtown Austin, I feel like it’s such a bustling neighborhood. We hope to be the place folks come to relax for a while. And Las Bis has a lovely outdoor terrace perched to take in the view of the Capitol.”
Luminaire Keeps It Spanish
“The thing about Cured is that we’ve been French, German and Italian over the years,” McHugh says. “We can be whomever we feel like we want to be. And at Landrace, we focus on crazy regional ingredients. We didn’t want to repeat Cured in Austin.
“We certainly want to feel that same energy, but with a truly Spanish focus at Luminaire.”
Most diners are well acquainted with Spanish tapas ― those savory small plates that are perfect for happy hour nibbling or sharing a few selections with friends — by now. But are you familiar with conservas?
These foods will be showcased at Luminaire and at its Las Bis bar. The Spanish term conservas encompasses many foods which can be preserved, including dried and aged meats, including charcuterie, which McHugh became known for at Cured. His stellar ensembles include 90-day lamb salami, a pork pate and black truffle sausage, just to name a few.
The European affection for canned or tinned meats can present a bit of a learning curve for stateside diners. Most Americans were tortured with potted meats somewhere in their childhood ― the likes of deviled ham and Vienna sausages. Memories of their fluffy and gelatinous texture still lead to involuntary shudders.
“In Spain and Portugal, it’s very common to open a can of sustainably sourced seafood,” McHugh says. “These actually represent some of the best seafood. Preserved in tins on the day they were caught. These things are fresh.”
The Hyatt Centric’s lobby bar Las Bis will feature a small menu of playfully plated conservas, along with craft cocktails, and a list of both natural and biodynamic wines. Did I mention natural and sustainable are always on Steve McHugh’s menus?
“Las Bis is first and foremost a bar and lounge, where we plan to serve tinned meats, either straight up or plated,” McHugh says. “We’ve been working on a lobster salad utilizing tinned lobster and one with torched sardines with caper berries, grapes and brown butter croutons.”
There will also be a range of caviar options ― from $90 trout roe to more extravagant $300 Royal Ossetra.
The Luminaire Menu
Dining at Luminaire will also transport guests to distant Spanish coasts. The breakfast menu includes items like baked eggs en piperade ― a Basque dish featuring pancetta, roasted peppers and tomatoes, served with thick crusty bread — and fresh empanadas filled with delicacies like chicken, Basque Idiazabal sheep’s milk cheese and fig.
On the lunch menu, there is a compressed melon which is plated with fresh honeycomb, cotija cheese, and anchovy. You can also dive into a Luminaire salad filled with red onion, smoked paprika potatoes, marinated olives and egg, tossed in a citrus vinaigrette.
There also will be a rustic butternut squash porrusalda soup with leeks, potatoes and pesto for dinner. McHugh also harkens back to his own childhood when he recalls “skinny” chops were the ultimate treat. His Delgada grill-prepared chops will be served per piece atop crusty bread and jus in varieties like lamb cutlet, pork rib, lamb T-bone, pork belly, pork loin and beef rump.
You’ll find an arranged board in different variations on each menu from morning until night. McHugh says these boards are perfect for two to three people to have a sampling of Spanish-style cured meats and cheeses served alongside crispy parchment crackers, Marcona almonds, grapes, caper berries and marinated olives. Who can resist?
The Hyatt Centric isn’t just opening its doors. It’s bringing Austin a taste of traditional Spanish cuisine, brought to life by one of Texas’ most celebrated chefs.