Thursday night offered one last chance for some to savor Josh Cross’ Mediterranean-influenced fare at Oloroso, 1024 S. Alamo St., before it closes Saturday night.
The occasion was a wine dinner featuring St. Supéry and two of its French sister wineries, Clos Poggiale and Maison Bouachon.
What was evident from the start was that Cross is an enormous talent to have on the scene, even if San Antonio seems to be indulging in fine dining less and less these days. We’ve lost many of higher-end independents in recent years, leaving us somewhat malnourished in the creative department. A few years ago, about the time Oloroso opened, San Antonio could boast better restaurants than any other major metropolitan area in the entire state. No more.
The chains that have sprung up on the scene, no matter the cost, have done little to enhance the scene.
The evening started with a Spanish-inspired tortilla (don’t think Mexican-style flatbread) made of shrimp, scallions and garbanzo beans. Two small cakes were perched atop a salad with roasted red peppers and sherry onions. They were matched with a light, crisp French Vermentino from Clos Poggiale in Corsica.
Roasted sole, with a perfectly seared exterior, was crowned with picholine olives and served alongside a sauce made from garlic and potatoes. Its bold flavors stood up to the clean, fruity exuberance of the 2009 St. Supéry Sauvignon Blanc in what amounted to a practically perfect pairing.
Even more delightful was the pairing of the 2008 Maison Bouachon Cotes du Rhone with roasted poussin, or young chicken, with salty Marcona almonds, house-made chorizo and Swiss chard. The intoxicating aromas from the plate greeted you before it arrived at the table and made for a memorable pairing with the pepper Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre blend.
The massive grilled veal chop with an even great bone protruding from it showed Cross at his most inventive. Sure, the meat was juicy, succulent, spectacular. But the real show was the blend of celeriac, parsnips, cippoline onions, tangy sweetbreads and beans in a red wine sauce that had the slightest hint of something like coconut. Parsnips are not my favorite vegetable, yet these were sweet and tender and irresistible. The sweetbreads made the elegant 2005 St. Supéry Élu, a Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated blend, soar.
Crema Caramel, almost a crème anglaise in its sensual soupiness, finished off the meal with a brightly acidic, not-too-sweet St. Supéry Moscato. And with dessert came another realization that this San Antonio restaurant will cease to exist after Saturday night.
The good news is that Cross and his staff have all found jobs, so no one will be out of work. The San Antonio-born chef is headed to work for Jason Dady, but he has plans to return to Spain at some point to continue learning. Let’s hope he brings that knowledge back to town. We can sure use him.