The Gleeful Gourmand: Hudson's on the Bend

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hudson's on the Bend

Although there wasn’t a single meal we didn’t enjoy while in Austin, one really stood out from the pack: Hudson’s on the Bend. Out past the city limits in beautiful Hill Country, this incredible restaurant is tucked back off the road amidst its own gardens, and while small, it packs a huge culinary punch.

We sat outside overlooking the charming gardens, and were presented immediately with an amuse-bouche, which was a coconut, cantaloupe, and chili shooter. It was refreshing and we both loved how the different flavors came in layers. They also brought out freshly baked Parmesan bread in its own tiny cast iron skillet, which was paired with two different herbed butters.

We chose for our appetizer the Lemon saffron risotto with fresh Maine lobster topped with asparagus. The risotto was cooked perfectly, but I thought the lobster added nothing to the dish. I was prepared for it to melt in my mouth, but it didn’t – and while it wasn’t chewy, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I also thought it was strange that there were only four tiny pieces of asparagus on top of the huge mound of risotto.

For my salad I had the Austin bibb wedge salad with creamy feta dressing, strawberries and honey roasted pistachios. I was a little nervous, as wedge salads can sometimes be a little heavy and too creamy, but this was beyond excellent. First of all, it didn’t use the standard iceberg lettuce, which I think made a huge difference. Regrettably, I couldn’t tell you what kind of lettuce it was, but it was delicious. The dressing was tangy and delectable, but also light. The strawberries were a perfect juicy addition, and the crunch of the pistachios just sent the whole thing over the edge.

After such a great start, I was a little worried the entrée wouldn’t shine, especially since I made a risky choice (for me) in choosing the Elk, which I’ve never had. To be more specific, I had the Espresso-Chocolate-Chili rubbed Smoked Elk Backstrap topped with jumbo lump blue crab, and a lime chipotle beer blanc. I’ve enjoyed venison in the past, but I wasn’t sure what to expect with Elk. For the record, “backstrap” (also called saddle cuts) refers to the loins, or Rib Eye/New York cuts of meat. The backstrap can be found on the outside of the backbone with the Rib Eye to the front overlapping the chuck cuts and the New York towards the back. (Don’t you feel a trifle smarter now about Elk? I know I do.) Anyway, the Elk turned out to be very moist, delicate and velvety. It was served with corn bread pudding, mashed potatoes and julienned sautéed vegetables. The lime chipotle sauce had the perfect amount of spiciness, and really brightened up the whole dish. The lump crab I thought was a nice touch in theory – it actually could have been left off and the Elk would have shone just as well on its own.

If that sounds like a lot of food – it was. But it was all perfectly spaced out. We had plenty of time to just sit and watch the twilight descend, talk, and relax. We both agreed the pacing was perfect. We never felt overly rushed, and as a consequence we didn’t feel too stuffed for dessert: a Meyer lemon cheesecake with lavender honey from their own gardens. The cheesecake was light and fluffy, and the lavender honey complimented it perfectly, especially since they weren’t heavy-handed with the lavender.

So as you can tell, we had an amazing experience, and I highly recommend Hudson’s on the Bend to anyone heading out to Austin in search of an incredible meal.

P.S. – The first picture is of my meal, and the second is Kiki’s. She had the Pecan crusted snapper with a lemon buerre blanc sauce served with corn bread pudding.


Kristen said...

Sounds DELICIOUS! The lettuce from your salad was probably "Boston Bibb" at least that is what I immediately thought off when you said "Austin bibb"

Jenna said...

See there? I learn something new every day! Thanks for letting me know! :)

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