Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Green Pastures

In my family, we like brunch. Ok, that's a lie. We LOVE brunch. Every birthday, anniversary, and celebration, seems to surround some sort of brunch. We even have brunch once a month, just because. But last month was my Aunt Mickie's birthday, so what did we do? We went to brunch. And since it was a super special occasion, we decided to go to THE super special occasion brunch restaurant, Green Pastures.

I've heard different opinions of the food at Green Pastures which will be discussed at length in a minute.  Say what you will about the food, but Green Pasture's reputation as a special occasion restaurant is so ingrained in Austin history that it's a force to be reckoned with. People have been coming to Green Pastures for birthday's, anniversaries, engagements, and other special occasions for well over 50 years. And for good reason, the restaurant is in a huge, lovely Victorian and the grounds are well manicured and beautiful.

One of the things they are well noted for, is their huge Sunday brunch buffet. It's one of the larger brunch buffet's in Austin and it's high class all the way. With silver chafing dishes, white linens, ceramic name plates, the class at Green Pastures is in the details.

The buffet is huge. Huge. There is an appetizer table, a small plates table, a salad table, a veggies table, a entrees table, a meat table AND 3 dessert tables. Each table is laden with numerous trays, plates, and cups filled with delectable treats. I'll try my best to review what I've had on my trips to Green Pastures, but their buffet offerings change every week, so you just have to trust that the food is generally pretty good. Some dishes are better than others, the food isn't too horribly original, but all in all the quality of all the food is consistently pretty high.

Here is the small plates portion of the huge buffet table. Check out all the food! Sesame tuna, smoke trout, smoked salmon, little cups of soup or dip, and just different kinds of seafood.

The tomato soup was ok, the white bean dip was pretty awesome (my dad had 2 little cups of them). The seafood is always tasty. Their smoked salmon is always very good, but the trout was a little lacking this time around.

Here is the salad selection on the buffet. I loved the mini wedge salads. What can I say, I'm a sucker for blue cheese and bacon. Sue me. Everything else was just ok. Save your stomach room for the veggies and entrees.

Here is the veggie table. Now, the veggies I've had at Green Pastures have always been really really good. Everyone will attack the buffet and fill up on meat and desserts, but the veggies are the true gems of the buffet. Here are Green Beans, Ginger, Red Pepper and Sweet Corn with Edamame. The sweet corn and edamame was so so tasty. I went back for seconds!

And what fancy schmancy buffet wouldn't include some classic brunch fair. Take these Eggs Benedicts. When is an eggs benedict ever bad? These are pretty typical versions.

Mixed in with the classic brunch entrees are some not so classic brunch fair. Take this roasted pork loin with andouille sausage and fried basil (you had me at fried basil).

It was pretty good, but didn't compare to the best dish on the whole (large and generously laid) table, the Sauteed Flounder with Shrimp, Lobster, Arugula and Fried Capers. Creamy with the flavor of fresh seafood, it melted in my mouth. And the pop in flavor the capers left in my mouth was a nice surprise. D.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s.

There's even an old school roast beef carver. I think buffet roast beef is overrated and only there because it looks cool, so I didn't bother trying it (but the carver was very nice).

And what huge brunch buffet wouldn't have an equally huge dessert bar? This is only part of the dessert table. It was like 4 times the size of this one picture. Everything I tried was delicious, if a little bit conventional.

And of course when you're done with brunch, you can wonder the beautiful grounds and try to spot the peacocks and peahens. I even saw three little peachicks following a peahen (yeah they're really called peachicks, I googled it).

Next time you're in need of a special occasion brunch and a little peachick spotting, check out Green Pastures.

~Mariah: 8.5