Eden East defies description. It’s not a restaurant. Or a food trailer. Or a farmers’ market. Or a pop-up underground supper club. It’s all of the above, actually. But mostly it’s an experience.
Let me explain. There’s a small farm in East Austin called Springdale Farm. And on weekends, Chef Sonya Coté and her team set up shop among the garden beds and chicken coops to serve a sumptuous dinner. A trailer serves as a makeshift kitchen and a ramshackle farmhouse is the prep area. The dining room is a cluster of picnic tables beneath a towering shade tree. It’s dinner only on weekends and you gotta have reservations. Food—much of it, at least—comes from the farm in the background. It’s BYOB, so guests haul in coolers packed with their favorite libations, while nattily clad servers provide stemware. Occasionally there’s live music. It’s like a high-end picnic—and there’s truly nothing like it in Austin right now.
As with all of Coté’s endeavors—East Side Showroom, Hillside Farmacy and Homegrown Revival—even the slightest aesthetic detail is tended to, right down to the adorable antique oven that serves as a hostess stand. Guests are greeted with a complimentary cocktail, then led to their seats beneath the “living chandelier,” a luminous shower of twinkle lights dangling from a majestic 40-foot elm. A trophy head tacked to the trunk makes humorous reference to the great outdoors—or a hunting lodge. And rustic picnic tables are set with vintage tableware. It’s a whimsical, magical scene.
Eden East offers a multi-course, prix fixe menu that changes weekly, depending on what’s local and fresh. One summer night, we were greeted with a “Deep Arnie” cocktail, a refreshing tincture of local ingredients, including Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka, muddled mint, lemon juice and Topo Chico. Our meal began with chilled melon soup, a pureed medley of sweet watermelon, cantaloupe and canary melon, studded with crunchy diced lemon cucumber. Next came crispy crostini topped with creamy redfish pâté and drizzled with dill oil. A crowd favorite was the housemade pastrami: thin, supple slices artistically pin-wheeled atop homemade mustard and pickles. Tempura okra came next: whole fried pods stacked in a pool of fiery yellow bird sauce. A hulking wagu sirloin soon arrived, grilled to perfection and served with sliced heirloom tomatoes. Only the accompanying cheddar mornay sauce and undercooked potatoes disappointed. Finally, a simple blueberry shortbread with coffee cream anglaise rounded out the meal.
Portions are small, but they add up—and you’ll leave plenty full and groaning with pleasure. And although the menu’s prix fixe, dietary restrictions are happily accommodated, as was one of my guests’ seafood allergy. For now, Eden East serves dinner Thursday–Saturday. But when the weather cools this fall, weekend brunch is expected to resume—providing yet another opportunity to experience the gloriously indefinable Eden East.
755 Springdale Road
Austin, TX 78702
by Joanna Steblay
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