Today marks Austin’s most anticipated restaurant opening of the year. 512’s beloved Top Chef and James Beard Award winner, Paul Qui, unveiled his long awaited project in East Austin.
I had the pleasure of dining and shooting there in the weeks leading up to the opening. To sum up my experience, I’d describe qui as exquisite, relevant, and progressive. Without a doubt, each dish and cocktail were thoughtfully planned and meticulously executed. Just check out the laborious means that bar manager Michael Simon goes to for the cocktails alone.
It’s relevant in the sense that Qui stayed true to his roots and the city. His heritage, culinary training, and experiences are artfully manifested in each dish. Meanwhile, he’s not above serving staples like green tomatoes, catfish, and corn on the cob (with sea urchin, might I add).
After chatting with him, it was refreshing to see that his new-found fame did not inflate his head. In his words, he’s not about the hype and only sticks to what he’s good at: cooking. Nevertheless, there will be plenty of merited acclaims coming his way.
Qui chose to construct the organic feeling restaurant in East Austin instead of posher neigbourhoods. On one hand, it declares that the Eastside is oh-so ready for this. On the other, qui is a destination restaurant that beckons diners that would not step foot in this hood otherwise. Welcome.
So how progressive is the menu? Qui and his team are forward thinking enough to not go overboard with avant garde presentations or modernist cooking techniques. There are dabs and dashes of those but quality ingredients and harmonious flavors are ultimately on the forefront. In other words, they know better than to mess with a good thing. So for his restrained sensibilities, I thank him.
And yes, the restaurant’s name is intentionally spelled in lower case.QUI 1600 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702