Note: First Looks give previews of new dishes, drinks, and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
Austin Chef Sonya Coté (Hillside Farmacy, The Homegrown Revival) is no stranger to the farm-to-table movement. But last month, she brought the table to the farm, unveiling her latest venture, Eden East, located on Springdale Farm in the heart of East Austin. Coté is closely connected with the farm and its owners Glenn and Paula Foore—in fact, she was their first customer when the couple revived the land five years ago.
The outdoor restaurant, which is reservation-only and only open on weekends, is comprised of a long kitchen trailer and several hand-carved tables. "It's the most badass kitchen I've ever had," Coté said. "The view from the kitchen is fantastic. You don't really get that at a brick and mortar restaurant." At night, bulbs hanging from the trees and live music create the atmosphere.
Everything on the menu except the proteins are sourced on-site. "We look at the farm stand on Wednesday morning and do a tour to see what else we can forage," said Coté. "We get the ingredients first, then create the menu, using every part of a product, including things like carrot blossoms and tops." The kitchen makes everything by hand, from oils to pastas to cheeses.
Her vision is to connect city folks with their local food system. Once-disregarded East Austin now houses a tightly knit community of creative and passionate restauranteurs and farmers. "We get people to realize that we're lucky to have these urban farms and that it's super important to have a sustainable food system. I think Austin is doing a lot to show the rest of the country how it's done," Coté explained.
The six to eight-course meals change weekly and cost $55-65, and drinks are strictly BYO. The bottom line directly helps the farmers: as Coté says, "By eating here, you're helping out the movement."