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Fabrik’s Sophisticated Plant-Based Fine Dining in East Austin

This vegan restaurant showcases seasonal and sustainable delights and offers an experience unlike any other in Austin


The first thing I did after my first meal at Fabrik was book a second one. It was that good. And since the restaurant only accommodates 16 people, I didn’t want to leave anything to chance. This diminutive new charmer was one of the most unexpected, delightful and delicious dining experiences I’ve had in a long time.

But before you rush to book your own meal at Fabrik, be aware that it’s not your typical fine dining experience. Wedged into a compact space on the ground floor of a three-story apartment building, it’s so small that it shares a bathroom with the neighboring Tex-Mex joint and coffee shop, requiring guests to walk outside for access. Its view is of a bus stop and a cemetery. Reservations are required for its two nightly seatings, and walk-ins are prohibited. The menu is exclusively pre-fixe. And, oh, and it’s 100% vegan. No meat. No dairy. Just plants.

But don’t let any of that scare you off. All this might sound a bit quirky and vexing for a fine dining restaurant, but Fabrik is relaxed, welcoming and inclusive. It’s a small family-run eatery with a social conscience, striving for low-impact sustainability, footprint reduction and minimal waste. Its limited
reservations and pre-fixe menu help curb overconsumption and excess, with any leftovers being composted.

Crafting an oasis of sophisticated plant-based cuisine

While all this woo-woo talk is admirable, the bottom line is that Fabrik is a fabulous restaurant. The food is exquisitely beautiful and delicious, and the dining experience is unlike any in Austin. In a city full of funky vegan joints, Fabrik offers something different: plant-based fine dining. The food is sophisticated, as is the ambiance and service.

Co-owners and newlyweds, Je Wheeler and Silas Wallerstein, are the visionaries behind Fabrik. Chef Wheeler helms the tiny kitchen while Wallerstein manages the front of the house. A vegan for over 20 years, Wheeler has worked in restaurants around the world including Australia, Berlin, Copenhagen and London. Wallerstein’s background is in professional design, where he worked as an industrial designer, production strategist and multimedia specialist in both NYC and LA.

Open since August, Fabrik is in Austin’s eastside Blackland neighborhood. The tiny sliver of a restaurant is easy to miss, but a small illuminated red sign guides diners past an improvised sidewalk ‘lobby’ consisting of a single bench, two cocktail tables and flickering votives. Step inside and you’re amazed by how small it is. But instead of feeling cramped and confined, the micro space feels airy and chic, with Wallerstein’s design background helping transform the small industrial shell into a unique and inviting space. The background music is exactly that — in the background — unlike so many new restaurants that feel the need to pump artificial excitement through their speakers. At Fabrik, things are serene and chill, but never dull. The food creates all the excitement you want.

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A journey through Fabrik’s seven-course vegan tasting menu

Fabrik’s tasting menu is offered in either five or seven small-portion, pre-fixe courses. I recommend springing for the modest seven-course up-charge and adding the fairly priced vegan wine pairing. Chef Je’s cuisine reflects her global experiences and her culinary skills in molecular gastronomy make every dish a miniature work of art. With sustainability a priority, many ingredients are foraged finds or sourced from Fabrik’s own hydroponic gardens, while most others are sourced locally. And almost everything is house-made, including tofu, vegan cheese, tempeh, pasta, bread, syrups, shio koji marinades, infused oils and some vinegars.

The menu changes with the seasons, but on the night that I dined, I was served two ethereal amuse bouches: a blini topped with seaweed caviar and vegan crème fraîche and a light and crunchy wonton tartelette filled with squash custard. Next came warm sourdough bread, perfect for spreading with porcini ‘butter’ or whipped cashew cream infused with charred scallions and chili crisp. A piquant carrot tartare followed, punched up with romesco sauce made with Texas pecans. A toothsome dish of mixed mushrooms seasoned with Korean Gochujang paste sat atop a pool of creamy potato-cauliflower puree. Handmade agnolotti pasta was filled with garlic and tender parsnips and tossed in a velvety cacio e pepe sauce. Dessert was doubly sweet, with a glorious apple gateau pastry and a cup of refreshing sherbet made from Riesling wine.

After the first course, I was delighted. After the final course, I was enraptured. The food was so delicious and beguiling that I’d forgotten it was vegan. Or sustainable. Or compostable. Or whatever. It didn’t matter. All I thought was, This is f—-ing delicious! I suspect I’m not the only one thinking this and I suspect this little gem of a restaurant is going to blow up. Fast. So follow my lead and make your reservation now before the secret gets out, the national press descends and the crowds swarm. I’ll see you there.