1417 French Bistro Crafts Traditional French Dining Experience on South First
Owner Allison Welsh and Executive Chef Kyle Mulligan share insight into the restaurant’s refreshed focus and new name
By Avery Matschek
Photos by Johanesen Photography
Portraits by Daniel Nguyen
Bouldin Creek’s 1417 recently announced a number of changes, including a new executive chef in Kyle Mulligan and an updated name, 1417 French Bistro.
The restaurant opened in July 2021 with a French-inspired menu, but owner Allison Welsh and Mulligan chose to pivot to serving more traditional bistro cuisine in a shift that came to fruition this August.
“It has been a journey to come into our own, especially opening in the middle of the pandemic,” explains Welsh. “French-inspired food has been on our menu since opening, so it was natural to gravitate toward a more definitive French style when Kyle stepped into his role.”
Mulligan has worked at many of Austin’s best restaurants, including Salty Sow, Cipollina and Kemuri Tatsu-ya. At 1417 French Bistro, Mulligan is focused on creating an authentic, straightforward experience for patrons.
“The idea was to have items on the menu that guests would love eating regularly,” says Mulligan. “More approachable and less complicated, which was something that my past has helped me to keep in focus.”
The updated concept also honors the shuttered Chez Nous, formerly considered Austin’s oldest French restaurant.
“We feel that Austin needs to continue the Chez Nous tradition close to downtown,” says Welsh. “Our menu and our atmosphere are a tribute to them.”
A new pastry menu was created by Amy Moore, and the new bread program is led by Maggie Fleuger. Moore and Flueguer have both been with the restaurant for some time and are stepping into new roles thanks to the support and empowerment of Welsh.
“Maggie has been passionate about baking for several years, and when we went all in on the French bistro, she took the reins and is producing incredible baguettes, danishes and brioche rolls,” explains Welsh. “Amy started as a server, but when hands got short in the kitchen, Amy stepped up. Before we knew what happened, we had all of these new amazing desserts.”
Mulligan says he is consistently impressed by Fleuger’s bread thanks to the balance of crust, dough and flavor, while Welsh says Moore’s desserts are earning rave reviews.
General manager Anise Broussard oversees the bistro’s new cocktail menu, which evokes more of a French style than before. There’s the Sazerac and the Sidecar, both classic cocktails, or the more unique Au Revoir, made with Kraken Rum, Fernet-Branca, Creme de Cacao, espresso and vanilla black pepper — served dramatically over one large skull ice cube.
As for what to order, Welsh’s favorites are the Escargot Vol Au Vent, “the perfect vessel for escargot,” and the French Onion Soup, while Mulligan recommends the Poisson Meuniére. “Who can resist melt-in-your-mouth fish with butter prepared to perfection?” he asks.
The eatery has also rolled out a new happy hour menu and updated interior decor. As both regulars and new guests make their way to the refreshed South First restaurant, Welsh is encouraged by their positive feedback.
1417 French Bistro is open from 4 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends, with dinner service available from 5 to 11 p.m. Saturdays and 5 to 10 p.m. Sundays. For more information or to reserve a table, visit 1417 French Bistro’s website.