Hudson’s Hill Country: NOW [Soft] OPEN
When Chef Jeff Blank opened the original Hudson’s on the Bend restaurant (in this same location) way back in 1984, he wanted to create an intimate space that offered fine fair to Austinites in a laid back Hill Country setting. He succeeded. HOTB’s reputation quickly grew and people often chose it as a destination dining place or for locals to frequent, myself included in the latter. If was very sad to learn that, due to health issues, Chef Blank decided to sell the restaurant after over three decades of success in 2016. Following approximately eight months of major renovations, the second owners opened HOTB v2.0…for about 3 months and closed abruptly the day after Valentine’s 2017.
Now owned and operated by a third group (Dilum Chandrasoma, Kris Kimura, Eric Leonard, and Lysa Nguyen), things might look a lot different; however, the original Hill Country hospitality and an exotic, innovative menu are back. The new owners and Executive Chef John Sturdivant (formerly of Z’Tejas) of renamed Hudson’s Hill Country are embracing and honoring Chef Blank’s & HOTB’s traditions, as well as adding their own personalized touches and modern twists. The bar is set high and they are meeting it so far.
They decided to keep the renovated space as is and it is admittedly stunning. Walking past the expansive vegetable and herb garden personally evokes fond memories and reassures me that Hudson’s Hill Country is taking the farm-to-table approach and seasonality of only the best ingredients as seriously as its founder. Not to be mistaken. While Hudson’s Hill Country does honor the locales history, they are on the road to making a reputation of their own. There is now a spacious bar area with lots of natural lighting, still intimate, white linen topped tables inside, a large private dining room, and expanded al fresco options.
The menu is a work in progress and will continue to change and grow, but all of the offerings I recently enjoyed were delightful. Ordered one of the signature cocktails, the Bashful Bluebonnet – the name was so inspiring and screamed Spring. Started the meal with complimentary super fresh scratch breads and butter: zucchini, focaccia, and slighty sweet yet savory banana variety. Made my way through three “Taste and Share” dishes, including the featured special of the evening: a beautiful Tuna Poke on top of fresh, creamy avocado, dressed with wasabi drops and tossed greens, a drizzle of tasty strawberry lemonade reduction, served with lavash. Very well-balanced plate all around. The Bonfire Buffalo Quail was wonderfully smoky with just the slightest bit of heat served on grits and the perfectly executed Cast Iron Duck and Rabbit Dumplings blew me away. Great flavor combinations of the proteins, perfect texture of the housemade wrappers, and a yummy peanut butter sauce.
For an entrée opted for the Wild Boar Lollipop Chops – I HAD to get game. A very generous portion of well-cooked and seasoned chops served with mixed grilled vegetables was just right to finish the night. Did not indulge in dessert on first visit because I was full; however, the options sound scrumptious. Thank you Hudson’s Hill Country for a wonderful night and I can’t wait to visit you again and again. Welcome to the neighborhood.
Editor’s notes: Hudson’s Hill Country is currently still in soft opening stage (at time of post). Limited seating and hours for now, with lots of great things to come including happy hour, patio dining, Sunday brunch, extended drink and food menus, and live music. Official grand opening will be in May; date TBD.
3509 Ranch Road 620 N
Austin, TX 78734
Open Tuesday through Sunday from 6-9PM with last reservation taken at taken at 7:30PM. Reservations available via phone or OpenTable on the restaurant’s website.
Parking: free partial gravel and paved lot.