Nido Brings Sophisticated Glamour to the Loren Hotel on Lady Bird Lake
The modern menu comes from Executive Chef Brad McDonald, who has worked in multiple Michelin-starred restaurants
Nido could get by on looks alone. This gorgeous restaurant atop the new Loren hotel quickly seduces you with its dazzling skyline views and stylish interior. Perched along the south shore of Lady Bird Lake, Nido is mesmerizing with its panorama of shimmering water and twinkling downtown lights.
And the view inside ain’t bad either: supple leather sofas, plush velvet banquettes and an intimate back-lit bar give it a clubby, mid-century vibe. It’s worth the ride up the glass elevator just for a look. But you’re not there just to look, you’re there to eat. And luckily, Nido delivers on that front, too. Executive Chef Brad McDonald has managed to somehow match the restaurant’s stunning ambiance with some equally delicious food.
It takes an accomplished chef to compete with Nido’s scenery, and McDonald is no lightweight. Originally from Mississippi, he spent time in the Michelin kitchens of Alain Ducasse, Per Se and Noma early on, and later as co-owner and operator of his own restaurants in NYC, Brooklyn and London. More recently, he helmed the stove in New Orleans at Couvant, another restaurant known for its good looks. His cuisine is grounded in French technique, yet incorporates seasonal local ingredients and flavors, resulting in dishes that are highly complex, yet taste familiar and satisfying.
The menu offers something for everyone, from classic comfort foods to plant-based options to indulgent desserts. Almost every table seems to start with the kabocha squash beignets, savory fritters drizzled with chestnut honey and dusted with burgundy truffles. Another winning nibble is the tuna crudo, garnished with pistachios, slivered green olives and currants.
For main dishes, don’t miss the toothsome lamb ragu tossed with cavatelli pasta and dusted with pecorino, fennel pollen and fresh mint. Homemade ricotta gnudi is another popular entrée — pillowy dumplings served with roasted cherry tomatoes, diced niçoise olives and basil. The burger is simple perfection: double smash patties topped with melted cheddar and pickles, perched upon a brioche bun gilded with dijonnaise. Be sure to spring for the a la carte side of amazing French fries, served piping hot and crispy.
Nido’s tasty side dishes shouldn’t be overlooked. The local lettuce salad is tossed in a hazelnut-balsamic vinaigrette, then finished with a hint of fresh tarragon and shaved provolone that transforms it from good to great. The Brussels sprouts are also intriguing, mixed with chunks of cheddar, spiced cashews and rye. But perhaps my favorite was the maitake mushrooms, simply cooked with a verjus vinegar, coriander and bay. For sweets, the kitchen does miracles with chocolate, so order anything on the dessert menu featuring that — and pair it with an excellent cup of La Colombe espresso.
Almost half of Nido’s space is dedicated to the cocktail lounge, so drinks are serious business. The wine list is dominated by Old World selections and loaded with lots of fantastic choices. A knowledgeable sommelier is always on hand to help navigate. Cocktails are equally top notch. And although there’s an impressive list of creative original libations, you can’t beat their classic cocktails served in proper glassware.
Service at Nido, and throughout the Loren hotel, is friendly and helpful, from the servers and the bussers, to the front desk and valet parkers. It exudes Texas hospitality, making you feel genuinely welcome and pampered. And although Nido is stunningly gorgeous, it never feels fancy or stuffy; instead it reflects Austin’s renowned casual-chic vibe. Nido isn’t just for show, it’s a legit great restaurant that just happens to have one of the best views in town. It’s the ultimate combo of beauty and brains. And Austin just got a little more fabulous.