Jeffrey's and Hudson's on the Bend
I'm new to this board, but my wife and I had such a pleasant experience at Jeffrey's last night, I felt compelled to write about it. The new chef, Deegan McClung, has done some impressive things with the menu incorporating elements of the types of food he cooked in New Orleans and also at Uchi.
We started with the Black Eyed Pea Soup Puree with an egg that was perfectly poached, breaded and then deep fried... and he pulled that off without overcooking the egg. That was paired with a Muscadet. We also had his personal reinterpretation of the signature Jeffrey's crispy oysters. He's done it with oven roasted tomatoes and a vinaigrette on fresh potato chips. Paired with Prosecco.
For the mains, we had quail two-ways with chanterelle mushrooms. The quail was very well executed. That came with a glass of Pinot Noir. Oh, speaking of perfectly cooked, we also had the slow braised short ribs which were cubed and then pan fried for six-sides of golden crusted yumminess. That was maybe the best element of the night. For seafood we had the Seared Scallops which had a leek puree, Granny Smith apples and a mustard sauce which balanced things out nicely. That course was cleverly paired with a sake.
Dessert was Chocolate Intemperance with a glass of tawny port and Banana Beignets with a Coconut and Caramel Ice Cream and a glass of late harvest Riesling.
The wait staff was excellent and knowledgeable and the chef's wife is the hostess as well. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a flawless meal, but it was the best meal we've had in Austin since David Bull left the Driskill. Although the restaurant week price for the 3-course is only a small savings over the normal 3-course, I would recommend going today, tomorrow or Wednesday because of the interested offerings he's got that don't seem to appear on the regular menu (black eyed pea soup, beignets).
On a disappointing note, we also took in Hudson's on the Bend last week and were underwhelmed to say the least. It's been a long time since we've been there, but everything from the service to the food just fell flat. For starters the wait staff didn't seem to know much at all about the various food preparations and the "wine pairings" were more like wine gueses. Clearly little to no effort was put into selecting a wine to go with each course because our waitress just threw out a few choices for us and told us to pick what we'd like to go with our dishes. I know a lot about wine, but I assume that the sommelier/chef/wait staff will know more about their wine list and what works with their dishes than I, so I threw it back to her to decide. That was a mistake. By the end of the night we were being served a dry Grenache with a super sweet brownie sundae which was a train wreck. Tip: When a wine label says "chocolate notes"... that doesn't mean it actually pairs with chocolate.
The food itself was also just not up to the level we expected, not because it was poorly cooked, but because it was so out of balance that only one or two flavors came through on an entire dish; namely chipotle and liquid smoke. The venison, for example, was exquisitely cooked and then drowned in a chipotle cream sauce which tasted fine itself, but completely masked the flavor of the meat. Same with the rib eye. Cooked to perfection and ruined with an overpowering peppercorn sauce. Then there were the smoked duck Diablo’s. That dish doesn't belong on the menu at Chili's. The plate appears with a halved raw apple with skewers sticking out of it and the duck on the end. It was an embarrassing looking plate. Those edible arrangment companies wouldn't serve it. The dishwasher who concocted that presentation should be perfectly cooked and then drowned in creamy chipotle as punishment. WHat's worse is that it tasted bad. Somewhere beneath the enormous piece of bacon there was supposedly a piece of duck, but after dipping it in the glorified KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce that came along with it, you might as well have just used chicken thighs and saved a few bucks.
We love game. We love big, bold spicy flavors too. But you’ve got to have more balance in your food in addtion to a staff that understands how it is prepared and what type of beverages will enhance the flavors. As far as Hudson’s goes, the Mighty Cone trailer on South Congress (which we love) is just as satisfying at a fraction of the price. The quality and refinement level of the food and the service at the restaurant simply does not justify the price tag or the hype.
Hope this helps people with Restaurant Week decisions. Enjoy the rest of the week.
Was there last night with two others and you are correct. The menu posted on the ARW site for Jeffrey's is different than the options we found at the restaurant, but only for the mains. We had a choice of seared scallops or the quail two ways. They were prepared slightly differently than what koriandchad experienced also. The quail was served with dates rather than pickled chanterelles, which oddly enough, appeared on the plate of scallops. Nevertheless, everything was beautifully executed and quite delicious.
We all enjoyed the meal very much. It was in a completely different league than the meal we had at Fabi & Rosi last week for ARW, which was competent and tasty but not nearly as imaginative. Our only complaint about our experience was that service was awfully slow, the wine pairings for the appetizers didn't get poured until we were all halfway through eating them and the coffee meant to go with dessert didn't arrive until well after our empty plates had been cleared from the table. I chalk it up to the increased volume they were experiencing because of ARW. They were aware of the problems, very apologetic and even comped one of the coffee drinks. It was still a really lovely dining experience, though. I would repeat it in a heartbeat.
gotta say Jeffrey's was a bit of a disappointment. mainly, as agoodbite mentioned, the service. it was horribly slow! i'll go ahead and own up to the fact that we made reservations the night before the last night of ARW, and chose and 8:45 reservation rather than the 6:45 slot. but restaurant week is supposed to be a chance for restaurants to present themselves to potential future regulars, right? it took 15 mins for someone to even greet and drop menus at the table. it took even longer in between courses, and our server was not even remotely warm to us.
the food was good enough. the four of us tried it all w/ the exception of one dessert. the black-eyed pea soup w/ breaded/fried poached egg was tasty. more so, the tiny 1-in x .25-in piece of bacon on top was absolutely delicious (reviewing the menu, i guess that was the guanciale). the fried oysters on potato chips were good and rather generous for a single app, but needed way more of the tomato vinaigrette. the quail entree was good, though tiny (i guess that *is* the nature of a quail). thinking back, i don't recall there being anything "two ways" about it. i just remember a roasted quail part, but maybe i overlooked it. the grains it came on were great, but more so, the minted dates on top were fantastic! the sea scallops were well cooked (we were a little put out by the fact that there were only 2 of them on the plate, but that's how it goes) and overall it was an ok dish. it didn't blow my mind, but it was good. dessert was the chocolate intemperance (Yum!!!, choco-freak here) and apple gateaux. the apple cake was fine, kind of bread-pudding-ish, kind of 'whatever'. really loved the accompanying ginger ice cream. and of course the chocolate dessert was great. i wish one of the four of us had gotten the banana beignets, but us three females at the table could not pass on chocolate. overall the food was good, not great, and in retrospect, i think i enjoyed the garnishes more than anything else on the plates, which is a little disappointing.
overall it was an ok, not mind-blowing, meal, that was diminished by the apathetic service. i can understand a lengthy wait between courses, and they did try to appease us w/ a complimentary half-glass of the same wine we had selected a bottle of. but there was no warmth from her! for a $200 dinner, at least act like you appreciate us being there. as i said before, this was supposed to be our intro to Jeffrey's, a restaurant we might possibly want to return to in the future. and none of us have any desire to return. oh well, guess we can give Green Pastures a go next time it's restaurant week.
Glad to hear that Jeffrey's has taken a new path. I have been there 3 or 4 times over the past couple of years and the menu always excited me but the execution was always a lot less than my expectations. Simply put, I never thought it was very good. But sounds like the new chef has added a spark to the place.
Re: Hudson's on the Bend. I feel the same way about it as I do (or hopefully "did") about Jeffrey's. A lot of "to do" but not very well executed. They seem to put a premium on a dish having lots of ingredients and unusual combinations. I feel like it is an attempt haute cuisine rather than the real thing.