Green Pastures. Restaurant Week. If you follow Austin blogs, you already know that this combination was pretty popular last month - I'll throw in a partial list of other local bloggers that tried the place out at the end of my post, if you want other perspectives.
Why was it so popular? Well, the most important thing to know about ARW (as we bloggerati :kof kof: called it) is that participating restaurants could choose to serve either a $25 or a $35 3-course prix fixe menu. As I'm sure you can imagine, $25 menus are hard to come by in the fancier places, and Green Pastures is one of a few serving the less expensive option. Plus, the place has peacocks! But it was too dark while we were there for us to appreciate that.
Green Pastures is in a home built in 1895 on land just south of town. It's since been swallowed up by the city, but still manages to be a beautiful little oasis. It's been a restaurant since 1946. Logan and I met our friends Andy and Jackson there for some tastiness and catchup conversation.
We were totally impressed with their warmed, soft, sweet bread rolls. Such a nice start, with good butter!
Logan and I decided to get the two most appealing of the three appetizer choices, which meant we didn't try their brie trio with the porcini soup and the toasts. Decisions, decisions.
Logan's dish had a hilariously long name. The Upland Game Plate: Quail, Quail and Some More Quail. Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Stuffed Texas Quail Breasts, Quail Sausage with Jalapeno and Cranberry, BBQ Quail Legs with Hoisin and Sesame Salt.
They most certainly can't be accused of false advertising.
This was... quail-y. I only had a couple of nibbles, since I was concentrating on my lobster appetizer, but I remember there being a good balance of gaminess, tartness, sweetness, and heat here. My favorite was the sausage, which was loose-textured with a nice bit of spice from the jalapenos.
I got the... well, here's the name from the menu. "Yes, it's back, but better: A Tempura Lobster Tail With Lobster-Brandy Mashed Potato, Sweet Corn Nage and Chimichurri."
This was freaking delicious. I mean, over the top (especially in a $25 menu - WHAT WHAT?), but great. Perfectly fried lobster, fresh, creamy sauce tasting strongly of sweet corn, rich mashed potatoes with a tinge of brandy... love. The chimichurri, besides being all pretty on the plate and whatnot, gave the dish a bright, herby flavor. We sopped up everything.
Logan ordered a very pretty entree, the Rainbow Trout with Shrimp and Crawﬁsh Sausage, Orange-Saffron Butter, Swiss Chard, Wasabi Mashed Potatoes and Guajillo Essence. Yup.
Everything here came together really nicely. I was a big fan of the shrimp and crawfish sausage, which had a very, very strong crawfish flavor. I happen to like crawfish, but if you're not a fan, skip this. The sauce was a perfectly executed beurre blanc, though I didn't really get the saffron flavor, and the spiciness from the guajillo and the wasabi added the perfect level of heat.
My entree, though delicious, was a big mess. Of course, based on the name, I should have been able to figure that out on my own: Garbanzo Bean Dumplings With Exotic Mushrooms, Goat Cheese, Chayote, Sweet Potatoes, Oven-Cured Tomatoes, Spinach, Walnuts, Cream and Cracked Long Pepper. How, exactly, are you supposed to taste all of those components?
But, big hot messes are still some of my favorite things to eat (I mean, besides dumplings - and hey, this had both!), so I enjoyed this. It was just a bit of a surprise in a place that bills itself as fine dining. The garbanzo dumplings were quite dense and looked almost like potatoes, and the mushroom/cream/goat cheese sauce was absolutely the richest thing I had all night, desserts included. The chayote squash was a bit watery. The bright, piquant hit of the sun-dried tomatoes was much appreciated amidst all this richness - I could have done with more of them!
The dish was so enormous that I packed up half of it for my lunch the next day. Yum, leftovers!
I was pretty full by this point, as I think we all were, but dessert was included. So...
Texas Pecan Ball: Large scoop of vanilla ice cream rolled in crushed pecans and topped with our homemade fudge sauce. Adorable concept, and who doesn't like those three components?
mmmmm, cold ice cream and hot fudge sauce.
Logan has a genetic inability to not order bread pudding when it's on the menu. Green Pastures Bread Pudding: Traditional New Orleans style bread pudding with white chocolate, pecans, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Served with a Jack Daniels sauce.
A good bread pudding. Not particularly exciting, but exactly what you want when you order one.
Jackson tried out the "Rich and velvety New York style cheesecake with raspberry and blackberry sauces."
She pronounced it a very good cheesecake. Bonus: adorable butterfly cookie!
I'd love to go back to Green Pastures when it's not Austin Restaurant Week. Looking back at our experience, I am once again flabbergasted that this was a $25 menu! The food was all spot-on, but I should say the service was a little odd - perhaps our waiter was new, but he didn't seem all that comfortable. For instance, we each started out with a glass of bubbly, and Logan ordered a bottle of wine to come out with our meals; the waiter brought out the bottle immediately and then seemed completely confused when I told him I thought he'd wait until we were done with our still-full glasses of prosecco. Ah well.
And awesomely, as we were leaving, Logan and I were recognized by a blog reader! And I didn't have any cards and am sort of a big dork in public, so I hope she wasn't too disappointed...
As promised, here are some other opinions of Green Pastures' Restaurant Week menu:
Jennie at MisoHungry (scroll down for Green Pastures) also liked the food, but had better service.
Maggie's Austin is impressed by the ambience and the food (and we had trouble with photography in there, too!)
Ready to Eat appreciated the vegetarian selections and actually tried that brie appetizer!
And Chowing in Austin loved the brie, but maybe not so much the crawfish sausage.
And Lyssa at Austin Post saw some of the restaurant's famed peacocks!
Green Pastures is just south of downtown, at 811 w. Live Oak in the '04. 512.444.4747.