Eden East definitely stands out on the list of the most “Austin” restaurants in town. That being said it’s definitely off the beaten path being located just North of 7th street and Springdale road in East Austin. Eden may also hold the title for the most impressive food trailer dining experience in Austin... nationwide for that matter. The fact that this amazing meal is prepared from a trailer should impress most who dine there. But at it’s core is the title I’ll give it as the most “Farm to Table” restaurant this side of the border that I've ever tried. There’s a place called Flora Farms on the outskirts of San Jose del Cabo we dined at last year that would give it a run at the title.
It’s About the Farm
Located on Springdale Farms, Eden East delivers a prix fix menu of locally grown ingredients, seasonally harvested and combined to deliver a 5 course meal for a reasonably priced $65 per person. Plan to spend 2-3 hours dining, if not the evening, not because you have to but because it’s charming, full of energy, and they encourage it. They have a few acres dedicated to farming and guests are encouraged to walk around the farm before and/or after dining.
Outdoor Seating Only
The entire venue is outdoor seating beneath a giant tree that operates as a lamp with lights strung throughout. The ground is covered in hay which helps contribute to the farm feeling by adding an earthy scent in the air. Tables are arranged in a community dining fashion and you’re likely to make some new friends as guest are organized around several long tables that seat anywhere from 8-20. Because the restaurant is only open on the weekends it tends to fill up and that means you’re likely to be sitting next to another party. It also means you’ll probably need a reservation. We dined there in October, one of the better weather months in Austin, and I might be concerned about the how the weather constrains the experience. I can see a hot night being unbearable and the rare cold spell deterring a few.
BYOB Adds the Perfect Touch
The 5 course menu at Eden costs $70 per person. So for a couple it comes out to about $180 after tax and tip. One thing we really like about Eden is the BYOB aspect which also comes with complimentary drinks from local vodka distillery Dripping Springs Vodka. By complementary, we mean there’s no price, but a tip is recommended. My guess is they don’t have a liquor license and this is their way of accommodating drinking. There is no corkage fee.
The Menu Changes Monthly
Eden does something a little different than most restaurants that focus on dynamic seasonal ingredients. The prix fixe menu lasts for a month and then is swapped out for something new that features whatever’s fresh in the garden. That means coming back every month could represent a new experience. The menu will also feature some locally sourced ingredients, usually in the form of the meats or cheeses. They do have some chickens on the farm, but the menu featured a variety of meat options sourced from various partner farms in the Austin area. Our visit featured beef carpaccio from cattle in Bastrop, some amazingly light fried Gulf shrimp and oysters in a salad, imported cheese from Chef Sonya Cote’s recent trip to Europe, and a lamb ragu. A detailed version of the menu below should give you an idea of the effort put into the locally sourcing the ingredients.
Bastrop Cattle Carpaccio
Umbrian black truffle & olive oil, radish, arugula, parmigiano reggiano, micro cress
Ravioli Cacio e Pepe
Chickpea brodo, black pepper, red chicories, goat milk, ricotta, thyme
Fritto Misto “Walk in the Sea Garden”
Grechetto bianco, wild gulf shrimp & oyster, bibb lettuce, cucumber, smoked tomato vinaigrette, wild herb
Smoke Lamb Rib Ragu
Spicy fennel sausage, marfa tomato, bitter greens, basil & lamb “bonito”
Chocolate Amaretto Cakes
Lemon curd, candied pistachio
To Sum it Up
Eden East is an amazing display of creativity, farming/menu ingenuity, and boasts an ambiance that caters to foodies, first dates, and making new friends. The only negative thing I can say about Eden is that the portions were small. We didn’t leave stuffed and that’s probably a good thing in many situations. But for 5 courses you should at least be full for a few hours. And we were left wondering why a few items weren’t bulked up a bit just to ensure that there were no doubts Eden lives up to it’s namesake.
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