The other night we stopped in for a drink at VOX Table, tucked into Austin’s new Michael Hsu-designed Lamar Union community complex.
The New-American style restaurant opened at the end of April, but you might have already heard that the drinks served here are something to talk about ––an innovative array of artisan cocktails, craft beers and wines compiled by award-winning beverage director Travis Tober. A few signatures like the Danny Trejo, a sip-worthy concoction of tequila, lillet blanc, lemon, smoked pineapple ginger shrub, grapefruit oleo saccharum and Fire & Damnation bitters, are even available on draft. Much like the theme behind the popular children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, if you give a mom one of these cocktails on her night out, she’s likely to stay and order dinner. Especially when the food menu ––sectioned in culinary genres (Provisions, Leaves + Roots, Fins + Shells, Feathers + Beaks, and Hooves) –– consists of chef-crafted sharable bites that are as beautiful as they are delicious. Colorful plates of albacore tuna tartar tossed with grated horseradish, chile oil and avocado espuma, and smoked hamachi pipettes, a lineup of crunchy-meets-creamy pops stacked with tomato raisins, pickled cucumber and Thai chile skewered atop a burst of coconut-soy vinaigrette, were two of our favorites.
Dining at VOX Table, bold bites and creative cocktails stand out against a minimalist stage punctuated with whimsical moments. And that was the point, according to Joel Mozersky and Clayton & Little’s Mark Olsen, who collaborated on the design. They say the intent from the very beginning was to create an ambiance that wouldn’t overshadow the food; rather, the restaurant was designed to take inspiration from the plates it serves: simple and well-crafted.
“We were trying to do something similar with the design,” says Olsen. “We tried to do something classic and modest that would allow the food and the patrons to be the life of the space.” Whether dining or drinking, the ambiance at VOX Table is what invites you to linger, enjoy and savor the experience. No guesswork is required of patrons to figure this out. From the moment guests enter the foyer, their line of sight is directed straight to the kitchen –– a framed rectangular glance into the movements of chefs busily tossing pans over open flames and delicately compiling ingredients onto plates. Chefs’ garnish racks containing various fresh micro greens are on display and a row of chairs gives diners the opportunity to take a front-row seat to witness the entire farm-to-table progression.
“As one of the goals of the restaurant was to showcase the farm-to-table process and the craft of the chefs, the kitchen was positioned to be visible from the dining room and highlighted as one of the first things you see when you enter the space,” says Olsen. “To connect guests to that process and excite them about what food may be coming next.”
Inside VOX Table, a French modernism vibe translates through soft textures and a simple palette of grays and whites. Rather than create a design that yelled at you, Olsen and Mozersky explain they wanted a design that softly whispered –– a muted voice that can be heard through the selections and finishes found throughout the space.
The main dining room is a soaring space with a 20-footceiling wrapped by white plaster walls and expansive windows that flood the area with natural light. The restaurant’s white-ongray theme is punctuated with custom elements like the large light fixtures suspended from the ceiling, intended to enliven the space and add a touch of whimsy.
Inspired by the idea of a mobile, Mozersky took the sleek sconce heads of the Cedar and Moss (www.cedarandmoss. com) Tryon fixtures featured throughout the space to Warbach Lighting (www.warbach.com) to create these large-scale custom fixtures. “We had a huge space to fill so we needed something sculptural,” explains Mozersky. “This really fits in the taller space and makes it more dynamic and interesting.”
In the private dining room, a bubble light fixture floats above the table –– a find Mozersky brought back from the Los Angeles based Bourgeois Bohème (bobointeriors.com). “I love this fixture,” says Mozersky. “And it is made out of plaster so the finish is cohesive with the walls.”
Tectum panels were selected for the ceiling, a cost-effective material chosen for its exceptional sound absorption. Aesthetically, the panels suit the restaurant’s simple palette, but they also serve as an affordable and functional option which significantly improves the acoustics in the tall dining space as well as other areas of the restaurant like the private dining room and foyer.
“Tectum doesn’t always work in every space,” says Mozersky. “It can often deter from the beauty of the design. But at VOX, it worked well with the other textures and color palette.” Sunlight spilling in from the ample windows fills the restaurant with a warm, natural glow heightened by primary materials like the white plaster walls that extend from the interior and continue to the exterior.
“We selected a smooth, artisan-style plaster that would reinforce the simple material palette while giving a bit of warmth and texture to the wall surfaces,” says Olsen. “I love how the restaurant acts like a lantern within the larger development. In the evening it emits a soft, warm light that is very inviting.”
Rather than installing an array of artwork across the walls, Mozersky thought it would be better to come up with a cohesive custom mural and commissioned local Austin painter Jeremy Earhart to create the knotted, twisting pattern that now flows uninterrupted across the expansive dining room walls.
Gray oak hardwood floors were chosen as a softer alternative to concrete, continuing the warm experience felt in the space. Gleaming white marble tabletops and countertops mimic the natural forms and patterns seen throughout the space. Jean Prouvé designed chairs and barstools provide interest with a classic punch of indigo in the otherwise monochromatic space.
“What I like most about this space is that it is refined yet approachable,” Olsen says. “Though the architecture itself is fairly subdued, the various artistic moments and the people within it cause it to be a lively and dynamic space.” Despite many hurdles, challenges and surprises that accompanied numerous construction delays, Olsen says the clients were great to work with, and the builder –– The Burt Group –– was able to meet an ambitious schedule.
“From being involved in the project from the beginning and seeing the many challenges that arose, which the team had to work around, to still end up with a simple and elegant end product like we intended was a huge accomplishment,” he adds. “I love how this space turned out,” agrees Mozersky. “It came out feeling like it was supposed to feel.”
I would concur. In Austin’s sea of trendy restaurants and bars, VOX Table boasts a design that makes it inviting to sit and stay awhile. Stop in for a drink; chances are you’ll want to stay for dinner.
ARCHITECT Clayton & Little Architects
512.477.1727 | Claytonandlittle.com
BUILDER The Burt Group
512.275.0881 | Burtgroup.com
DESIGNER Joel Mozersky Interior Design Studio
512.913.3732 | Joelmozersky.com