After several delayed opening dates, Homewood, the comfort-focused new restaurant from acclaimed chef Matt McCallister, kicked open the doors this week.
The new venture from McCallister and his business partner Michael Barnett could be the city’s greatest new neighborhood restaurant thanks to its homey, comforting vibe. There aren’t a whole lot of home kitchens that look like Homewood’s, but an impressive amount of effort went into keeping most of the space separate from the dining room as possible. “I don’t know of any restaurant that looks like this,” Bennett says. “We wanted it to feel like you’re in somebody’s home.”
Walking through the space designed by Austin’s Design Hound, it looks like McCallister and Barnett are well on their way to achieving that goal. The space is small, with about a dozen seating areas inside, and a more than adequate patio for fair weather days. The seats are a dark wood, their cushions upholstered in dark green. A raw bar with dark emerald subway tile sits off to the side. Brass accentuates the space, shrouding some of the lighting fixtures, the table supports, and stretching across the length of the bar counter, with the occasional patina-streaked rivets bubbling the surface.
One of the space’s most unique features is the multi-level bar. Carefully planned, the interior and exterior bars were set at the same height, with a recess in the center for the bartender to stand. Upon first glance, the interior bar sits low. When seated, guests still remain eye level with the standing bartender. Directly outside at the patio bar, guests sit at full height bar stools, but are also at the same height as the bartender and the short interior bar. It’s a fun trompe l’oeil trick that adds dimension to the room.
The elements of the Homewood kitchen that are on display, though, serve as a focal point in the restaurant. Instead of the typical long steel expo table where the chefs receive and deliver orders to the waitstaff to serve, a chunky wooden benchtop sits, filled with rustic tableware, and adorned with a massive slab of marble resting on top. “We wanted it to look like a kitchen island really,” Bennett says.
Sitting comfortably in the far corner of the kitchen is a massive wood fed hearth for roasting meats like steelhead trout and half chickens. “Not many kitchens have a marble expo and a bad-ass wood burning hearth,” McCallister says. “We wanted it to feel like home, kitchen and all. You know, cozy.” And of course, no Matt McCallister kitchen would be complete without a stacked shelf or two of pickling and fermenting jars, full of a wide range of pickled and otherwise preserved ingredients that will eventually end up on the menu.
Those ingredients will go into dishes like emmer gemelli pasta with razor clams, garlic, and vermouth, along with snow peas poached in beurre monté, an emulsified butter sauce, and topped with chile oil and brown butter rye bread crumbs. Also on offer is Hereford pork loin glazed in miso barbecue and served over ash hominy and peanut-pork jus. Because McCallister is obsessed with seasonality and changing things up, don’t expect for all of these dishes to stick around the menu forever.
Homewood is now officially open for dinner service at 4002 Oak Lawn Avenue. Before making a reservation, take a walk through the space courtesy of Eater photographer Kathy Tran.