Austin >Food & Dining > Hudson's on the Bend
3509 Ranch Rd 620 N, Austin, TX | Directions 7873430.396085 -97.931703
One of the first places in Austin to legitimize hill country cuisine, Hudson's on the Bend is down-home eating with upscale sensibilities. I've always felt that Chef Jeff Blank should be much more famous than he currently is, because way before culinary fusion was a thing, he was topping pumpkin risotto with pheasant, turning rattlesnake into demure crabcake-like appetizers, making quesadillas out of bull's private parts. And that, friends, takes balls.
Great expectations dashed into the ground – I've had better service at diners where 10 people could dine for the cost of serving one here. Our "special occasion" dinner for 5 had the worst service I have experienced in 20 years. The waitress did nothing to explain or promote the menu, brought the wrong food and walked away despite our protests, never came back to check on us, and never apologized. The food itself was mediocre. She then awarded herself a tip of $95 under the restaurant's self-serving group gratuity policy. To add insult to injury, when I called the restaurant the next day to complain, the manager with whom I spoke volunteered to mail us a gift certificate to compensate for the experience, asked for my name and mailing address, and then did absolutely nothing. This restaurant may impress some with its Lance Armstrong yellow jersey on display, but there are dozens of better places in Austin.
Super Salmon in a Relaxed Atmospere – Our first visit was the evening of May 24, along with some very good friends and we all abslutely loved it!! The restaurant had been recommended to us as one for serious diners who appreciate good food, wine and service. We had a near corner table which had the advantage as being great for people watching. Despite the restaurant being very busy that evening, the service was outstanding. Starters were very good, especially my scallops. My salmon wellington was delicious, as was my wife's lamb and the mixed grill that our friends had. The portions are Texas generous. We enjoyed a selection of white and red wines after cocktails. Next time we'll try to leave some room for one of the eye catching deserts on the menu. We recently purchased a property by the lake and we expect to become regulars at Hudsons. Our next step is to purchase the cook books for presents to friends who appreciate good cooking.
LOVE IT! Favorite restaurant... – From the gardens, to the intimate seating in the cottage, to the wonderful food, everything is A+. My husband and I went to Hudson's for our 1st date 15 years ago and still love it everytime we go. We try and go at least twice a year. It is a special occasion restaurant to us and lives up to every bit of a special occasion. Customer service is impeccable, wine list is fabulous, presentation is wonderful, and the portions are perfect. It is pricey, but well worth the money! Enjoy!!
Best game restaurant in Austin – I thoroughly enjoyed my evening here. The service was fantastic and the food was amazing. I was on a date, and between the two of us we ordered the rattlesnake fritters, the bore and the elk. The rattlesnake fritters were undoubtedly one of the best items I have eaten in my entire life. Their pistachio crust along with chipotle sauce was great. The bore was good but nothing all that special in our opinion. The elk, however, was fantastic and the sauce that accompanied it really worked well. I would definitely recommend this place to my friends, but with the warning that the prices are indeed up there. In terms of portion sizes, I felt they were appropriate for the entrees, but I did want the appetizers to be a little larger. However, I feel Americans (a category in which I am included) are spoiled into thinking that a plate should be completely covered in food in order to be satisfying. If you can get over this, and accept some white areas on your plate, this restaurant choice will not be regretted.
First and LAST visit – I had heard great things about Hudson's. I was prepaared for the high prices. What I was not prepared for were the microscopic appetiser portions. Come on, two scallops on a plate for $20. And a good thing they didn't cook the Tuna Tartare, it silver dollar sized portion would have disappeared.
The entrees varied from great to not so good. The wild boar was gamey. The bison on the mixed grill was tough, and I mean really tough! The bison stuffed with venison sausage was excellent, but the beans on the side tasted like they came out of a pork and beans can. The duck and snapper were also good.
As for dessert, don't get the fruit. We counted about ten berries, so for $10, that's a dollar per berry.
As a nice touch since it was my wife's birthday, they brought out a pound cake dessert (which no one ordered) topped with a candle - and then charged us for it!
For icing on the cake, our no so friendly wait person added a 20% tip to our bill for us. In our case that meant she got paid $50 an hour for the two hours we were there, but since she was only at our table for 10 minutes an hour - gee, I wish I got paid that much!
Well, we went, we were mildly impressed, and will not be back. Fellow diner beware.
Great Valentines Day – My husband and I really enjoyed our experience here. We are big foodies and have been to tons of restaurants. I have to admit for Austin this place is very pricey, but if you had the same meal in New York or LA it would cost double. The staff was friendly and the place was very warm. I highly recommend the lobster risotto, the venison, or elk. The only thing that wasn't that great was the dessert. I had the turtle dove pie and it was just too sweet and dense, but still fun to try. We will definitely be going back for another occasion. When making reservations for Valentines Day make sure you call at least one month in advance.
Out of the ordinary dining experience! – When I first learned of Hudsons On The Bend, I didn't know what to expect. I heard it was "the best" and that it served exotic food. So, I went with a sense of adventure. I can describe it in one word: WOW! What an extraordinary place. We arrived a few minutes early for our reservation, so they offered us a complimentary glass of wine of our choice. We were seated at our scheduled time at a quaint table in one of the small dining rooms that dot this older facility. The restaurant was crowded as it is a polular choice, but our server was always present, friendly and excellent. There are not sufficient words to describe this wonderful dining experience. With menu selections out of the ordinary, and sauces that one can only dream of, there is no place to compare.
I have since been back a second time, and will again on return trips to Austin. It is not a place for people who like to "budget" their life, or order the same thing every time they go out. This is a special Texas experience.
For value received, it is right on. It is sure to impress your finest guests.
Overhyped – When I first heard about this restaurant I was excited to try it. Imagine my surprise that such a high priced establishment has an unpaved parking lot and their additional parking consists of parking in wilderness and then having to stumble in the dark in heels down a steep incline. When entering the establishment the decor was charming, but there was also no host/hostess at the stand.
The servers seemed friendly and knowledgeable, and quick to explain what items on the menu were and refill drinks. My boyfriend and I ordered the Duck Duck Goose appetizer, the Mixed Wild Grill, and the Venison Chops with Lobster. Our appetizer was nicely presented, though the garnish on the duck confit would best have been left off. The flavor of the confit and prosciutto was excellent. I wish I could say the same about the goose. It was wrapped around some sort of jelly concoction and topped by what tasted like sprouts gone bad. At first we thought the Venison chops were a mistaken order when it came out as the "lobster" in the description would have been more accurately named, "Pears with a side of venison Chops with two melon ball scoops of lobster." The two chops were no more than two bites each, and there was more pear in this dish than meat. The mixed grill was decent, the vegetables, venison and bison being my favorites. The rabbit tenders were dry and overcooked, and the mixed game sausage may have been the worst thing I've ever eaten. If you can imagine someone taking a five day old piece of roadkill, scooping out it's putrid meat and putting it into a casing, you will come close to experiencing the full flavor of this sausage. For dessert we tried the olive oil rosemary cake and the caramel apple spice cake. The olive oil cake tasted like a lemon square, but the spice cake was lovely.
This restaurant does not live up to the hype, and certainly is not worth the $40-52 per entree they demand.
Not a great restaurant – My spouse and I recently dined here for our anniversary. We knew it was expensive, but the menu looked intriguing and it's supposed to be one of Austin's best restaurants. After dining there we pray it's not the best the city has to offer! We couldn't find any meat in the rattlesnake cake appetizers. The escargot was good except for the sauce being way too lemony and salty--it literally made us wince. The wild boar trio entree was disappointing. I like wild boar, but not fried, taquito'd, and sausaged. Very poor choices by the chef! The sauce served with it was both overpowering and uncomplimentary to the meat. The elk chops were pretty good, but the serving size was very stingy. It was also served with an overdone sauce. The rosemary olive oil cake dessert has the potential to be lovely, but was overpowered by the lemon curd. There's an obvious area for improvement at this restaurant?back off on the sauces and competing strong flavors! Sometimes a light hand is needed in cooking. The atmosphere was also disappointing. I was expecting casual hill country chic, but many interior elements were cheap and shabby. The wait staff couldn't have been more boring and bland. Oh well...we just won't go back.
Not worth it – We were staying at a Bed and Breakfast close by and they recommend this restaurant.
First of all the waiter was rude and continued to ignore us. We waited 30 minutes before we could order.
I had the Lavender Crusted Lamb, which sounded intriguing. It was awful. The lavender lime jelly was inedible, it had a very harsh flavor. The lamb itself was cooked well and presented well, then the waiter added the dirty pink colored beurre blanc at table side. It would have been fine without the sauce, it didn't look appetizing and it wasn't. I had to scrape it off the meat in order to eat it. I ordered a glass of red wine to go along with my meal and it was served hot. I couldn't drink it, there's a difference between room temperature and wine that tasted like it had been stored outside in the heat or next to a fireplace.
There's so much going on in their food that they're not letting the main ingredients speak for themselves.
Thank goodness for the bread and butter in the beginning of the meal, it was the only part of the meal that we enjoyed.
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