Mattie’s at Green Pastures
A VENERABLE AUSTIN ICON REEMERGES WITH A FRESH NEW STYLE
by Karen O. Spezia
Photograph by Knoxy Knox
ASK ANY AUSTINITE OF A CERTAIN AGE where they celebrated weddings, graduations, or Mother’s Days, and chances are they’ll say, “Green Pastures.” For over 70 years, this fine dining institution was the place to celebrate special occasions. A hidden oasis among the funky bungalows of South Austin, the palatial Victorian estate occupied 23 wooded acres featuring manicured grounds and roaming peacocks. It was a destination that delighted generations.
But in recent years, newer, trendier restaurants opened and Austin’s dining scene became a national sensation. And somehow, Green Pastures got lost in the shuffle. But, two years after it was sold off and shuttered for renovations in 2015, it’s now back with a fresh new style that still celebrates its historic roots. Rechristened Mattie’s at Green Pastures, honoring one of its original owners, this glorious urban paradise is now owned by a group of local investors including Greg Porter, who co-developed the project with Jeff Trigger of La Corsha Hospitality Group, overseers of Second Bar + Kitchen and Boiler Nine Bar + Grill.
Currently, Mattie’s only serves dinner and weekend brunch, offering different experiences to showcase its dual personalities. At night, Mattie’s is sultry and mysterious, illuminated by flickering candles scattered among the dining nooks and clandestine bars. By day, the shaded wrap-around porch remains the coveted spot to dine al fresco. From the landscaping to the bathrooms, the place is prettier than ever.
Let’s be clear: you go to Mattie’s for the unmatched ambiance and atmosphere. And that alone is worth a visit. But the food and the drinks successfully compete for your attention. To start, you must have a cocktail. They’re top-notch and expertly made with the perfect glassware, ingredients, and garnish. The Milk Punch is legendary, but the Mint Julep and Old Fashioned give it a run for its money. When you’re ready for vino, Wine Director Paula Rester has crafted an imaginative and impressive list.
Grazing from the menu of upscale American classics is my favorite way to dine at Mattie’s. Order several of the outstanding appetizers to share, like the silky chicken liver pâté slathered on a baguette, flaky buttermilk biscuits smeared with guava butter, and Irish cheddar pimento cheese spread on grilled ciabatta. For entrees, don’t miss the outstanding fried chicken, prepared differently depending on the meal. At dinner, it’s the star of the plate, co-starring sides of potatoes and spinach. At brunch, crispy tenders share the spotlight on the Fried Chicken Eggs Benedict, served atop a homemade English muffin, poached eggs, and ladled with rich hollandaise. Standout sides include the lip-smacking crispy cauliflower, coated in spicy tamarind BBQ sauce and punched up with Thai bird chiles and scallions, and the tasty coins of garden fresh squash sautéed in savory curry and dusted with toasted coconut.
Mattie’s is just the beginning of Green Pastures’ rebirth. New event spaces and an outdoor pavilion have been added, and a boutique hotel is in the works. But the priority of this beloved icon was to bring fine dining back. Mattie’s transports you to another era, while keeping you firmly in the present. Welcome back, old friend.