As promised, our last outing did not involve BBQ, burgers, or any beef for that matter. It was tough. But after the way MJ had been eating, I knew it was necessary to seek out healthier fare. With there being so many good restaurants here in Austin coupled with the fact that we don’t go out to eat very often, choosing which restaurant to dine at can be quite the daunting task. After much deliberation, we decided on Eastside Cafe.
Known for their use of locally sourced ingredients (some as local as their own backyard), Eastside Cafe serves an eclectic menu ranging from Italian to Tex-Mex, American to Asian. Truth be told, I really wanted to order their cheeseburger – Niman Ranch all-natural beef burger grilled to order and topped with cheddar cheese on a white or whole wheat bun with lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onions, and roasted garlic mayonnaise…yummm!!!!!
However, since we were there for brunch and being the fan of eggs benedict that I am, I went with Elaine’s Blue Plate Special instead – two poached eggs served on top of smoked salmon and shrimp cakes with a chipotle hollandaise sauce. The plate also came with home fries and a bowl of fresh strawberries. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? Unfortunately for me, it read better than it actually tasted. Don’t get me wrong. The execution was pretty spectacular. The eggs were perfectly poached and the smoky heat from the hollandaise was a nice complement. But the salmon/shrimp cakes…hmm… Although there was plenty of salmon and you could easily discern the presence of the shrimp, the texture of the cakes was so mushy that it left something to be desired. Unlike a nicely made crab cake with a firm, crunchy exterior and flaky chunks of moist crab meat on the inside, these cakes were…soft and dense. Velvety hollandaise + runny egg yolks + smooth and creamy salmon/shrimp cakes = my mouth begging for texture and vibrance of flavor. My favorite item on the plate had to be the beautifully prepared home fries.
As for MJ, she couldn’t help but be drawn to their fresh salad offerings. After consuming more junk food over the course of a week than even a pubescent teen could handle, her body was aching for something natural, something non-processed. She eagerly decided on the Grilled Chicken Salad with Asian Vinaigrette – romaine and green leaf lettuce, cherry tomatoes, carrots, red cabbage, napa cabbage, cilantro and marinated and grilled locally-raised Holmes all-natural chicken; topped with toasted peanuts and served with tangy asian vinaigrette. Her eyes lit up as she took that first bite. You could hear the freshness of the vegetables as she crunched on each forkful. Before I knew what had happened, I found MJ staring at me from across the table with an empty plate sitting before her. In fact, my wife was so inspired by this meal, as well as her current salad project, that she decided it was time… Time to grow vegetables in our very own garden! Now if you’ve been following my wife for a while, you’ll remember her failed attempts at indoor herbs. There was the basil plant, the cilantro plant, and most recently the lemon balm…poor little guy. But MJ promises me this time it’s gonna be different. What can I say? I find her energy infectious :). So off to Lowe’s we went… After a couple hours spent prepping the space, we made light work of assembling the box and getting it installed. The original plan was to have an in-ground box, but as we encountered an immovable rock and an inconveniently placed sprinkler pipe in our dig, we went with a slightly raised garden bed. We thought it’d be fun to have Kona with us as we worked, but he was clearly more interested in trying to find edible things in the yard. We know it’s kinda late to be planting seeds, but we’re hopeful. If nothing else, it was a great project to do together and time well spent. We’ll be sure to keep you posted if and when things start to grow. Please feel free to send us any gardening tips you may have in the comment section below. We’re both quite new to this gardening thing so any help would be greatly appreciated.