Award-winning Restaurateurs Set to Sway South Austin


With players like Executive Chef Rene Ortiz, Pastry Chef Laura Sawicki (winner of Food & Wine’s “Best New Pastry Chef” award,) and renowned architect Michael Hsu behind the design of one of South Austin’s newest concept restaurants, our hopes are high for Sway. Set to open Sunday, December 9, the Sway concept hopes to build on its etymology (sway is the Thai word for elevated or delicious). Co-owner Jesse Herman answered a few questions about what to expect from the award-winning team that has left a considerable footprint after opening the acclaimed La Condesa restaurants in Austin and Napa Valley.

What’s behind the concept of Modern Thai meets South Austin?
It’s a style of Thai food that Chef Rene Ortiz and I were both exposed to living in Australia. Thai food is as ubiquitous in Australia as Mexican food is in Texas. They have managed to blend modern technique and both traditional Thai and locally sourced ingredients, and we are doing the same thing here, but adapted for Austin. As far as South Austin is concerned, it’s a pretty casual spot with some serious food and reflects the character of the area from a design standpoint. I also live two blocks away!

Pretend I’ve just been found guilty of something terrible. What’s the one Sway dish I should choose for my last meal?
The whole salt & pepper lobster from our market seafood salt & pepper menu. Kind of self-explanatory.

What should diners expect as far as ambiance and decor?
The space is very modern, yet very simple and also quite warm. It’s all steel, glass, stained black concrete and mahogany. A modern version of a traditional Thai ‘lanna’ or Thai highland/hill country traditional dwelling. We designed it with Michael Hsu, who is extraordinary.

With options like drinking vinegars, it doesn’t look like your mixologist will be serving up predictable fare. Should diners expect surprises at the bar and on their plates?
With Chef Rene and Laura, you never know. I expect the menu to change and evolve just like the menu at La Condesa. They’re constantly creating new things and experimenting, so I think we’ll see lots of new items relatively soon. Laura’s desserts are really spectacular and Nate Wales is doing some amazing house-made sodas at the bar. Sway will have a bunch of unique, non-alcoholic options. We have also developed a custom flavor of Kombucha with local brewers Kosmic Kombucha that will only be available at Sway and will be inspired by our menu. Look out for that!

We have to know: what is Moo Sway?
What is there to say? An off-the-menu family-style feast featuring a whole Thai-style roast pork shoulder for 10 people. It’s beyond delicious and we’re making it intentionally hard-to-get and special by only doing it twice a night at most.