delicious discourse

A Little Bit of Heaven On The Bend

Posted in restaurants by delicious:discourse on February 26, 2008

Hudson’s on the Bend (Austin, Texas) is another restaurant my family has been going to for years. Actually, my 21st birthday dinner was at Hudson’s, of all places (I was NOT your typical 21-year old). However, in my last two visits I have entered into a new appreciation for the restaurant, partly due to my increased attention to artful and tasty food, but also because of a growing-up and stepping-up of Hudson’s.

Hudson’s was very busy the night we went (due to it being the day after V-day) and that is my only complaint. It was not as quiet and cozy as it usually is, but the food made up for it. The meal started with the Smoked Duck Diablo appetizers and Seared Foie Gras my grandmother insisted everyone try. The Duck Diablos were served on six skewers stuck into a halved Granny Smith apple flat-side down, each with a piece of duck breast, jicama, jalapeno, and figs in balsamic, all wrapped in a piece of apple wood bacon, and served with a red chili glaze. They were bite-size, salty, flavorful, delicious, and a perfect compliment to the sweet and smooth foie gras served atop a pumpkin bread pudding, drizzled with orange and cranberry sauces and finished with a red onion jalapeno marmalade. Since reading Garlic and Sapphires, Ruth Reichl’s adventures as the NYTimes restaurant critic and almost every meal including foie gras, I have wanted to revisit this delicacy. The fatty and salty foie gras is perfectly complimented by the sweet pumpkin pudding and citrusy-tart orange cranberry sauce. It all sort of swirls together and melts in your mouth in a beautiful combination of flavors.

Usually the salad course is quite unexciting, but not at Hudson’s. Among our salad adventures was a spinach salad with a hot pig viniagrette (“pig” just fancy for bacon) served with a smoked quail topped with a honey ginger cilantro glaze. This is not just your typical pre-dinner salad and M and his Dad said they were absolutely delicious with the quail served warm over the bed of spinach. My choice was a mixed green salad with poached pear, candied pecans, goat cheese (substituted for bleu) with a cranberry balsamic viniagrette. I loved the dressing. The tartness of the dressing brought out the subtle sweetness of the poached pear, the creaminess of the goat cheese, and the nuttiness of the candied pecans. I actually think the bleu cheese usually served with the salad would be much to overpowering for the perfect delicate balance of the combination. Another salad consisting of ruby red grapefruit and avocado on a bed of butter lettuce, decorated with pomegranates, and drizzled with a campari viniagrette is an example of a spectacular play with color and texture as well as flavor.

And on to the entrees….the most-ordered favorite (4 out of 6 orders) of the night was Hudson’s signature fish dish, the Hot and Crunchy Ruby Trout with a hot and crunchy shrimp and a hot and crunchy avocado, drizzled with a mango jalapeno sauce (that you can buy bottled at Hudson’s), served with lightly sauteed vegetables still crisp and full of their natural flavor, and garlic red-pepper flan, which is so light it floats in your mouth, yet covers your tongue with cream. The “hot and crunchy” is a batter of almonds, sesame seeds, cornflakes, sugar, and red chili flakes. The dish could also be called “Sweet and Spicy” Ruby Trout, with the kick of the red chili flakes and the sweetness provided by the sugar. It is the best use of cornflakes I can think of—and it will not let you down.

The Grilled Pheasant Breast caught the eye of one of my fellow eaters. It was stuffed with cilantro pesto and placed atop a San Luis Holy Mole sauce with a pheasant confit tamale and a white chocolate tomatillo sauce. I did not get to taste this dish, but the first words out of the eater’s mouth were “This is delicious…..”. I don’t think you say that about pheasant unless it is really, really good. The other entree ordered was the American Bison stuffed with venison sausage, on top of a three-bean ragu and chipotle bbq sauce to accent the lean bison and spicy sausage. Two of my favorite meats rolled into one. The bison had a nice sweet, meaty flavor complimented the dominant venison sausage taste. It was good and tasty, but I believe the sausage detracted from the appeal of the bison and its natural flavor.

Now dessert was something else. Apple cider ice cream came served in a conical glass sitting in a glass spherical bowl filled with dry ice causing white frost to billow over the edge. You should have seen the look on my grandfather’s face, ice cream had never looked so good, and if you know my grandfather, this is quite a feat. This innovative presentation was topped with a gingery and chewy cookie sitting atop the perfectly formed scoops of ice cream. In addition, the ice cream was fabulous — it made me think of picking apples in a fall orchard with the leaves violently changing colors and rushing back to a farmhouse to make fresh apple cider. I also highly recommend the Caramel Apple Spice Cake served with apple cider ice cream and cajeta sauce. The cake was heavy and dense, almost like a bread pudding, with the warmth of apple and spice present in every bite. The cajeta sauce added a creamy richness to both the ice cream and the cake. Believe me when I say, there was not a crumb left.

One of the MANY things I love about Hudson’s On The Bend is the sense of adventure in the food. With every dish delivered to the table comes a new excitement of what is in store and what taste buds will be awakened. This type of food is rare and the world needs more of it.

Tagged with:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: