Easy Tiger may look like just a bakery, but it has a basement full of more bread, plenty of booze, and even features an outdoor deck. The long-anticipated Easy Tiger Bakeshop and Beer Garden opened Jan. 24 on East Sixth Street, just west of the I-35 access ramp. The restaurant features several appetizingly sharable “Easy Board” dishes, sausage, beer and sandwiches, along with bread, of course.
Once a Cuban restaurant, the space provides useful levels for the restaurant’s current design. Upon entering, guests’ eyes rise towards the bread rack located behind the counter. The upper level is used for take-outs and quick sandwich snags. Meanwhile, the lower level houses a full bar, restaurant and patio area overlooking Waller Creek.
On a Wednesday night, the lower-level restaurant was full of young business types and casual couples who sat at striped tabletops with mugs of beer and seemingly good company. The atmosphere was a successful balance of novelty and the ordinary. Wooden tables were as rich and substantial as the German food served atop them. The room was dotted with interesting conversation pieces— a tennis-racket-hitting-a-Wilson-ball lamp in one corner, a tiger picture with books in another. Throughout the basement, soft lamps accented the thick stripes of blue and white paint that lacquered the clay walls. The space was neat and uncluttered, except for the endearing corner or two.
“I cooked in New York for seven years” said Drew Curren, one of the chefs who helped create the menu, as he recommended the New Yorker Easy Board. “The food was super comforting, you could always count on it.”
The New Yorker Easy Board is served on an unpresumptuous tray. It consists of dark pretzels lightly sprinkled with salt, thick slices of flour-dusted rye, a mound of pastrami, solid cuts of rare corned beef, sauerkraut and homemade mustard.
“Most people don’t realize that the only difference between pastrami and corned beef is the way you cook and slice it.” Curren said, gesturing to the two cuts of meat on the board. “You smoke pastrami; you oven-roast corned beef. Then you cut them with different thicknesses, but they all soak in the same salty brine. They are a lot like brothers, just a little different.”
The two brothers are big, to say the least. The Board portions are meant to be shared. At a reasonable $15, the partitioned ingredients allow customers to create and mix as much glorious, grainy mustard as they wish.
Another favorite of guests is the large pretzel with a cheddar cheese, garlic, Boston Lager dipping sauce, inspired by the Kentucky Derby tailgating culture.
“It was such a culture shock,” Curren explained. “I cooked in Vietnam for a couple of years, and then flew back into Louisville, Kentucky. This was one of the first things I ate.”
The big-as-your-face pretzel is sharable at $8. Other specialties include a vegetarian sausage made with beets, lentils, brown rice, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and herbs. The succulent dish is purely vegan because its ingredients and its casings—the thing that holds the ingredients inside—are also free of animal byproducts, a feat difficult for most chefs to achieve. For a quick bite the Goat Cheese with Pear and Fennel Mustard Sandwich ($8) is highly recommended. Served on a baguette, the sandwich is sweet, spicy and herby as a result of the pear and fennel mustard mingling together while cooked.
The goal of the restaurant, Curren explained, is to get people to “slow down and stay awhile.”
Leticia Mireles is already a regular at the new restaurant. “I helped paint the mirrors, but I saw how important this was for people who run the place and now, I keep coming back because it’s just so easy.” It seems as though perhaps Curren’s goal is already being achieved.
Easy Tiger Bakeshop and Beer Garden is located at 709 E. Sixth Street. The bakeshop is open daily from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. The beer garden is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.