With things going well recently, we decided to celebrate a little in advance of my next longer overseas trip. Last year during Art Night East, we had visited Eden East at Springdale Farm and were intrigued. The restaurant is only open two days per week, serves a fixed menu in communal seating, and sources all of its food locally. The food and drink samples during the Art Night tour had been excellent – we definitely wanted to give the full dinner a try.
As I went to make reservations, I determined that this restaurant is really popular. The only available seating was for 9PM. I also noted that Eden East is a bring-your-own-bottle restaurant and that they recommended East End Wines as a good place to get said bottle.
That sounded good to me. We are very familiar with East End Wines, a wonderful wine store built into a Victorian home in East Austin.
The plan became:
- Buy Wine at East End Wines
- Appetizers at Three Little Pigs Trailer
- Dinner at Eden East
East End Wines
First stop: East End Wines. We were lucky that they were having a wine tasting that evening. East End Wines has frequent wine tastings and I am on their mailing list. Friday’s tasting was Italian wines. They were uniformly excellent. We selected a nice Nero d’Avola for our dinner wine and a white Argentine wine for appetizers.
Three Little Pigs
The Three Little Pigs trailer is located conveniently in the parking lot of East End Wines. These two businesses cooperate: there are picnic tables for seating and East End Wines will happily provide loaner glasses. This arrangement makes for a very easy light meal. Wine and glasses from East End Wines, food from Three Little Pigs.
We ordered two appetizers. The first was Asian Fried Chicken. This dish is their take on Japanese Karaage. It is authentic in a contemporary sense. That is, all over Asia, this dish has recently been interpreted as having a sort of powdery dry batter, enhanced perhaps with mayonnaise. Being an ancient dinosaur myself, I prefer the more traditional version which had thinner breading and a more moist surface. This difference is similar to the difference between Southern Fried Chicken (Church’s) and traditional recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken. I prefer the traditional Kentucky version.
The other dish was an interpretation of Korean barbecue with some nice Kimichi and rice. By the way, both dishes had excellent vegetables. We did not actually eat all of these two dishes. Rather we just nibbled a bit, picked up to-go boxes from the trailer, and took them home to our son who finished them off.
Eden East at Springdale Farm
We arrived at Eden East at 9PM as scheduled and were seated at a communal table. Seating is outside under some really large, beautiful trees. The temperature was perfect. The tables were lit with gas lamps. Eden East warns you that this is “slow food” – expect to stay for a few hours. If you need to get in and out in a hurry, you will be better served at MacDonalds.
The restaurant is directly attached to the Springdale farm which grows organic produce. Much of what is served is directly from Springdale farms. The rest (both meats and vegetables) is from other nearby Texas producers.
After a few minutes, our enthusiastic young server arrived and introduced herself as “Taylor” She promptly opened our bottle of wine and gave us an overview of the evening. Things would simply arrive at 15-20 minute interviews. If we felt like taking a stroll around the farm, she could slow the pace down for us.
The first item served was not on the internet menu, although if you look carefully it was on the printed menu on the table. This was an “Amuse Bouche” a layer of slices of different kinds of local heirloom tomatoes, with basil and local Texas olive oil. It was really tasty!
The appetizer met with Tomoko’s approval.
The kitchen was actually in a trailer next to the seating area. This was an interesting variation on the open kitchens one often finds in fancier restaurants.
Next up, a salad of sorrel and red carrots – very tasty!
By this team we were getting acquainted with our table mates, a couple who owned a home not far from our former home and their friends two interior designers. One of the interior designers took this photo.
The grilled beef heats were excellent. I am used to thinking of beef heart as tough, but these thin slices were delicate like a slice of fine fillet. Note that heart is an internal organ, but it is a muscle. It does not have the intestinal taste of kidney, or well… intestines.
Rabbit Ravioli was also excellent. Neither Tomoko nor I are big fans of rabbit which is usually tough and very gamey. However, this ravioli was tasty and delicate. the pomadoro from local tomatoes was also very tasty.
At this point, I was ready for a stroll. Inside their farmhouse (which also happened to contain the restroom) they had this interesting collage of fresh heirloom tomatoes.
Heirloom tomatoes are varieties that survived the enormous pressure in the agriculture megabusiness to genetically engineer bland, tasteless, perfectly round things. Heirlooms are varieties that were passed from generation to generation within families. In recent years, operations like Springdale Farm have gone out and scoured the small, rural towms looking for these. They are NOT perfectly round, They DO have blemishes. And…they also have interesting, rich, subtle tastes and textures.
Here we see the dining area as I came back from my stroll.
The final meat course was local Texas lamb chops. Again, these were excellent.
I don’t actually know what “Zabajone” is. I take it to be the white cream sauce with the dessert. They were out of the local blackberries by the time we were served and provided blueberries instead.
All in all, it was a very pleasant evening.