SXSW 09: Venture Further Afield To Find Hudson’s On the Bend

Last March at the end of South by Southwest then-SXSW Film Festival producer Matt Dentler drove indieWIRE’s Eugene Hernandez and Brian Brooks and myself out to a famous Austin-area restaurant called Hudson’s on the Bend. A reported favorite of Lance Armstrong, the Hill Country eatery is famous for rather detailed (and fantastic) food with a heavy accent on game. Be it venison, elk, antelope, pheasant or yes, rattlesnake, Hudson’s serves it, as well as lobster, trout, beef, rabbit, etc., etc., etc. and I’ll say up front, it was one of the richest, most diverse carnivorous and delicious meals of my life and if you have a free night before, during or after SXSW, it’s worth the 30 minute drive from downtown. I saved my write up until I started previewing SXSW 09 in order to make sure it’s fresh in your minds and to whet my appetite for my return visit!
One mark of a restaurant that takes food service and the art of fine dining seriously is the amuse-bouche (I prefer to use amuse-gueule, but that’s for another post…) that small palate starter that is not as common as it should be. This time it was a delicate pastry puff containing wild boar and Queso Chihuahua (No. It’s NOT.)
Appetizers run the gamut from sushi grade Ahi tuna tartare with a wasabi avomole, pickled ginger pico and crispy lotus chips to pistachio-crusted diamondback rattlesnake cakes (pictured below) over a spicy chipotle cream to Maine lobster, butternut squash and chipotle lobster risotto topped with granny smith apple and pepitas. Other appies include escargots, oysters, duck confit, crab cakes and prosciutto-wrapped sc allops, among others. Are you sensing a theme, here? If you are a vegetarian, don’t bother. There are some nice salads (one pictured below) and desserts, but otherwise, your food has a very delicious face.

And now we move on to the mains. And what glorious main courses they are. Remember when I told you that this was no place for a vegetarian? I was being nice. While yes, there is a vegetarian entree and I am sure it’s as excellently prepared as the rest of the menue, this is the place where bad vegetarians go to do penance when they die. They cook at Hudson’s. Specifically, they cook Hudson’s Mixed Grill: Hardwood grilled Axis venison & rabbit tenders, pecan smoked quail in a lime cilantro ginger glaze, spicy game sausage and marinated buffalo. Yup. Five animals, one plate. Up yours, PETA. Dig it:
Dentler went with the Hudsons version of surf and turf, twin grilled Axis-venison chops and a grilled lobster tail. I wish I had a photograph of the service presentation, as it arrived under an applewood smoke-filled dome. No shit. At any rate, it was pronounced excellent and looked…well, judge for yourself:
By the time the desserts arrived, I was too far into my food coma of delight to remember to take pictures, but I do remember we took one home. All in all, from the company (thanks for coming, guys!) to the setting (see pic below) to our hosts (thanks, Sara and Kristen!) and of course, the food, it was a fabulous meal.
A word of warning to the film festival throng: Hudson’s is not cheap and in these harsh economic times this is more important than ever to note. With that in mind, please note that appetizers & salads run $14-$23 and mains $30-$60 with most in the $35-$45 range. That said, if you (or your expense account) can handle it, it’s a meal you won’t soon forget.
The grapefruit/avocado salad (Eug LOVES grapefruit!): GrapefruitAvoSalad.jpg
Mmmmm, snake!SnakeCakes.jpg

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