Tasting at Shack 512

Entering Shack 512 made me feel as if I was instantly transported to a luxurious vacation.  The drive out was a bit of a road-trip, albeit a beautiful and scenic one. But I knew as soon as I was taking the trolley ride down to the restaurant that it would be more than worth the miles.


Breathtaking views of the lake paired with a relaxed yet stylish environment made me giddy for the rest of the evening. The eats and drinks I was served after, and the service that made me feel like I was part of the family only confirmed my giddiness.


Shack512 has recently undergone a few alterations, this including name and ownership changes. Speaking with the owner Ashley, it was so clear to me the love and consideration that has gone into preparing each new dish and decision. As most Austinites will attest too, many of our lakeside restaurants are more about the location and less about the food. At Shack 512, the location and food compete for first place. The culinary creations here are unique, flavorful and fun. Take for example the pulled pork nachos that come topped with pico and smothered with queso blanco. Or the dipping sauce that perfectly accompanies this (and many other dishes), the Bourbon Glaze. Said glaze consists of (get ready for your mouth to water) sautéed garlic and onions in a sweet Kentucky bourbon and brown sugar reduction. It’s DIVINE, you guys. And let’s not forget the Mexican Martini,  which is spiced up with jalapenos and served in a HUGE shaker. It’s just as magical as it sounds.


Really, I just loved being there. I loved sipping my Mexican Martini as the sun set. I loved the open, outdoor seating and feeling the wind through my hair as I laughed with other guests. I loved stuffing my face with bacon wrapped shrimp and Texas chicken alfredo. The whole evening was just so very enchanting. It was hard to believe that I had never been there before, because it felt like an evening spent with friends.

Did I mention yet that I was delivered a make-your-own-smores buffet with my own personal fire? Because that also happened. And it was just as amazing as it sounds.


Shack 512 is something special, you guys. They’ll make you feel like you’re at home. But a home with gorgeous  and the biggest and the best Mexican Martini you ever did taste. So like, the best home ever.


Hudson’s On The Bend Cooking School

I’ve been lucky enough to have collected a slew of incredible experiences as an Austinite event blogger. In the past few years, I’ve tried ziplining, beekeeping, fly-boarding, indoor skydiving and hot-air ballooning, to name a handful of favorites.


So when I was invited to join a cooking class overlooking a lake in Austin, I wasn’t really expecting this to go on my blogging top five. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I would love it, and who can turn down delicious food? Not me. But I have just been so honored and humbled by the adventures that I’ve been able to join in on in the past few years, that I looked forward to this one in a more absentminded sort of way.

This made the surprise of my Hudson’s on the Bend experience that much more incredible.

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The event started out at the head chef’s house-mansion-thing-with-views-like-whoa. I turned onto a normal enough looking road and drove for a couple of miles before I then turned onto a gravel road and parked. Nothing out of the ordinary yet. But as I approached the entrance, my breath was nearly taken away. You guys, I have lived in Austin my entire life and have seen some lovely things but this was definitely amongst the most gorgeous of these. The views of Lake Travis paired with the scenery and décor of this abode were bar none. I stood at the entrance, probably with my mouth agape, but was quickly ushered in with a “Go grab a drink and sit down!” I was then promptly handed a vanilla vodka fizz that was always quickly refilled without so much as a request. I sat down to begin watching some pretty extraordinary chefs do their thang, which felt as if I was up close and personal with a comedic yet informative show featured on the Cooking Channel.


After working up an appetite whilst watching this mouthwatering food sizzle, our cooking group headed back to Hudson’s on the Bend. We were more than ready to eat all of the delicious meals that had been whipped up before our wonderstruck eyes.


This four course meal started off with rain forest ceviche, a ceviche made with coconut milk, habanero peppers and fresh ginger root marinade and a shaved coconut and pineapple marinade. This light, fresh and tasty appetizer was a perfect palette-greeter and left me greedy for more.

Next came the hot and crunchy avocado with mango jalapeno aeoli, ancho paint and mango jalapeno slaw. Ancho paint, for anyone curious, is made from ancho peppers soaked in hot water and then pureed with a handful of delectable ingredients like lemon and garlic. It was all just as mouth orgasmic as it sounds, y’all. The fruity and refreshing slaw, ancho and aeoli flavors perfectly complemented the delicately fried avocado. My mind kept telling me to slow down and bring home a bite or two for the hubby but my tastebuds were having none of it. I ate it all. Sorry not sorry.


The main course followed, shrimp and lobster in saffron crepes with a brandied lobster sauce. The phrase in itself is a mouthful with the power to make ones’ mouth water, and you better believe the dish all went into my mouth. This dish was decadent, creamy, buttery and yes, saffrony. I’m making saffrony into a word because the saffron is such a key ingredient here. The most expensive spice in the world added a sophistication and complexity to this dish which left me savoring every last bite.


Last but not least, the chai cheesecake. Oh my. Everyone at the table was oohing and ahing over this. One of my tablemates even commented that, though she doesn’t like cheesecake, she loved this one. The coconut almond crust and the fruit compote topping paired with the chai and cardamom flavors left us all swooning. And possibly drooling. Or maybe the drooling bit was just me. Great cheesecake doesn’t always allow me to be classy.


Paired with great company and endless wine, the dishes served at Hudson’s on the Bend made this experience immediately jump to my top five of blogging adventures. I can’t wait to go back, but in the meantime? All in attendance were given a recipe book of all dishes made in the class. I don’t know that my cooking skills will be able to do these recipes the justice they deserve, but it’s really nice that I have the option to try.


The deets:

Dishes made at Hudson’s on the Bend cooking school vary with each class, and recipes for each meal are given out before the chefs begin. The class, which includes a four course meal and wine, costs $135 per person. Click here to make reservations, y’all!


I was able to attend this class free of charge, but was not obligated to write anything other than my honest thoughts. All opinions expressed are entirely my own!