In a time when it seems that no Austin restaurant is safe from shuttering, one culinary institution is back in action. Hudson's on the Bend will reopen by the end of October with a revitalized menu that pays homage to old favorites, owner Billy Caruso tells CultureMap.
The beloved restaurant, which has been staple of Austin's fine-dining scene for 31 years, temporarily closed in April after switching hands. Chef/owner Jeff Blank sold the restaurant and property to local restaurateurs Caruso and Chris McFall.
The new owners promised to renovate the space and the menu while keeping the same farmhouse feel. A sommelier, McFall has worked at such spots as Paggi House, Lamberts Downtown Barbecue, and Sullivan's Steakhouse. An experienced chef, Caruso has held positions at Austin's III Forks, Paggi House, and Botticelli's. He was also a restaurant partner at 24 Diner and Easy Tiger.
Wild game remains the star of the menu, but Caruso has added more seafood options and small plates to complement the heartier dishes. You'll also find a few new versions of Hudson's classics; for example, the Diablos on Horseback — duck- and chorizo-stuffed dates — is an interpretation of Blanks' Duck Diablos.
"We're really trying to lighten up Hudson's a little but and make it more approachable," says Caruso.
That philosophy extends to the actual restaurant, which is in the midst of a makeover. Although Hudson's will still have a comfortable farmhouse feel, thanks to designer Tabette Stewart, the space is much more open and airy. One of the notable highlights of the renovation is a revamped patio.
The new Hudson's team — rounded out by pastry chef Rosie Gibson, manager Brandon Silver, barman Steven Keys, and in-house gardener Collin Blake — has gone to great lengths to make sure that the restaurant is still a place where Austinites feel at home. One of the more touching additions is a stunning portrait of Jeff Blank that will greet diners as they walk in.
"It's a little bit more emotional than just reopening a restaurant," says Caruso. "I feel like I owe it to Lake Travis to bring Hudson's back to life."