September 24, 2009

Eastside Cafe: Literally Homegrown

This "east/eastside" terminology that has been getting a lot of buzz lately focuses moreso on the newer establishments of those East of I-35 and not so much on a lot of those that were already there. In my opinion, that side of Austin is probably my favorite... old or new. To be honest, Shangri-La is probably where I go to drink with friends every weekend, El Chilito is my go-to for frozen sangria, and of course ... Tacos Selene, come on now!

But all this eastside buzz ... Eastside Showroom, Justine's, Shuck Shack, Cheer-up Charlie's ... what about good ol' Eastside Cafe that's been sittin' on Manor for a good while longer?

In my experience, I had heard of this place mostly in the organic context, but I never spotted it everytime I drove past it. It's because it looks like someone's house, seriously. It's this cute little renovated house with a side "guest room" per se ... that houses their side project Pitchforks and Tablespoons, which is basically the coolest place to fun household trinkets for friends.

And then they have gardens everywhere full of herbs, vegetables, etc which they use in a lot of the dishes on their menu.

Onto the food! Did it taste as good as we expect "organic, homegrown" food to taste?

Well, first things first. Everyone loves jalapeno cornbread, organic or not, especially when they are in the shape of miniature muffins.

This chicken, artichoke, and mushroom soup was delicious. Especially in this rainy weather, it definitely hit the spot. I love anything involving mushroom and cream, but adding chicken and artichoke was awesome. I feel like if you made this into a sauce and put it on a pasta, I would probably die. Taking a picture of a white soup in a white bowl in low-lighting is not easy, by the way.

A side of acorn squash with sesame ginger sauce. Interesting pairing. Especially at a restaurant that seems to focus more on American and Italian influenced dishes. Squash is a very American vegetable ... it makes me think of Thanksgiving. But squash is actually a pretty bland vegetable, I feel like. It's like sweet potatoes. The slightest hint of flavor ... but once paired with the sesame sauce, I thought it was pretty tasty. Very interesting. And fun presentation.

Finally, the artichoke manicotti. A lot of artichokes today. I don't know why, it's not like I really like artichokes or anything. In my opinion, I thought this dish was too cheesy. I would have liked more sauce, but I thought it was still good. I think mushroom and artichoke would have been good. But then, that's pretty much my soup as a pasta.

But anyway, you should check it out if you are into eating locally and organic. They have daily specials and I'm sure their menu is affected by what's in season and what they can grow in their garden, which can be interesting and fun.

And that cat at the top was in their store. He is awesome.

Eastside Cafe

2113 Manor Rd.
Austin, TX 78722