ISSUE 30  |  Summery Kitchens

Get Out of the Heat: Josephine House, in Austin

August 01, 2014 6:00 PM

BY Leigh Patterson

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Housed in a cottage that’s the perfect shade of Oxford blue, Josephine House, in downtown Austin’s Clarksville, is for those looking to spend an easy afternoon beating the Texas heat with a cool cocktail.

The cafe is the daytime counterpart to Jeffrey’s, the neighboring dinner institution (the cottage began as a private dining room for Jeffrey’s before opening as a separate restaurant in 2013). Both are owned and masterminded by Larry McGuire of McGuire Moorman Hospitality, who named Josephine House after portraits of Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte that are longstanding fixtures in Jeffrey’s two private dining rooms. With its exposed shiplap, George Nakashima chairs, and marble counters, the interior at Josephine is a brighter version of the elevated club atmosphere at Jeffrey’s. Picture Southern Living meets Nantucket whites–in a modern way.

Photography by Michael A. Muller for Remodelista.

Above: Built in the 1930s, the cottage was, among other things, a catering kitchen before McGuire Moorman Hospitality took over Jeffrey’s and reinvented it. It has since been singled out by Bon Appétit as one of the best new restaurants in the country.

Above: In the central dining room, a painted farmhouse table, George Nakashima chairs, and round walnut tables stand out against high-gloss white walls.

Above: Table arrangements are a nod to Josephine Bonaparte’s love of roses.

Above: The restaurant’s menu is printed daily on heavy white stock “so that each meal feels like a private party,” McGuire says. Tables are set with classic stainless flatware from Saint Andrea and Riedel glassware.

Above: When the interior was being renovated, the construction crew discovered shiplap underneath the drywall. McGuire explains, “We removed, sorted, and straightened the shiplap, and then spray-insulated the whole house before reinstalling the wood.” 

Above: A window offers a view into the kitchen from the main dining room–and can be closed off via a sliding hex bar. The marble countertop displays grain salads, fresh pastries, and cheeses of the day. The restaurant is open for lunch, brunch, happy hour, and dinner.

Above: McGuire takes great care in his tableware selections. Josephine House uses Heath Ceramics’ opaque white Coupe line, paired with serving boards by Edward Wohl and Spanish clay cazuelas.

Above: The open shelves above the dining room’s marble countertop hold, among other things, vintage silver pieces that the restaurant uses for chilling wine and as vases.

Above: A stack of menus weighted down by metal card holders; the umbrellas are for the borrowing.

Above: A vintage rug at the front door leads into the main dining room.

Above: Umbrellas and built-in nooks allow for shady outdoor seating options.

Above: The rattan designs are Serena & Lily Riveria Side Chairs.

Above: The restaurant’s logo was designed by FÖDA Studio of Austin.

Above: The Josephine House exterior is painted a custom shade of blue that has become its signature. For more, go to Josephine House.

Below: The restaurant is in Clarksville, a historic section of Austin.

See Larry McGuire’s other restaurants in our posts on Jeffrey’s and Clark’s Oyster Bar. Traveling to Austin? Have a look at the best places to shop, eat, and stay in our Austin City Guide.

And have we mentioned that you can vote every day for your favorite finalists in the Remodelista and Gardenista 2014 Considered Design Awards? Voting ends August 8; we’re announcing the winners August 9.