The restaurant Gwendolyn opened last week in the location vacated by Le Rêve, at 152 E. Pecan St.
Le Rêve was chef Andrew Weissman’s dream. It gained national renown and established his reputation before he closed it in October of 2009.
Now, chef/owner Mike Sohoki, who worked with Weissman at Le Rêve during its last months, and at Il Sogno, Weissman’s new restaurant at the Pearl, has returned to Pecan Street. The Culinary Institute of America alum also was the chef for two years at The Cove, 606 W. Cypress St.
At 31, Sohoki exhibits a passion that is similar to that of his former boss, Weissman, but exacting on his own terms. The restaurant is focused on fresh, local and seasonal ingredients, and on making all of the food, like the sausages and breads, in house. But his “old school” approach means he is not using the power tools of the modern kitchen: no machinery, nothing with a motor, says the chef. He doesn’t even have a freezer.
“See this kale,” said Sohoki, holding up a bowl full of chopped, dark greens. “It was picked fresh this morning.” Everything comes in fresh, says the chef, and all is sourced within a 150-mile radius of San Antonio.
Sohoki had a smattering of customers when we stopped in at lunchtime Thursday — folks who had gotten the early word about Gwendolyn’s opening. He and his staff fussed over plates of seared chicken breast over a French lentil stew, garnished with sprigs of fresh thyme, and tended to sauces bubbling on the stove.
Gwendolyn is just open for lunches as this time. The dinner meals will be announced later. Lunches are casual; dinners will be fine dining.