Celebrity chef Stephan Pyles is bringing his “new millennium Southwestern cuisine,” as his website calls it, to San Antonio.
The chef, who, along with Bruce Auden and others, helped popularize the regional cuisine, will open a restaurant later this year at Éilan, the new Tuscan-influenced hotel and living complex that is being built off La Cantera Parkway, north of Loop 1604.
Pyles was in town Tuesday sharing his signature sweet-hot Passion Chile Margarita — made with passion fruit, jalapeño and agave nectar, plus tequila, of course — with a host of invited guests, including a few who braved the heat to look at the new facility, which will feature a 186,000-square-foot hotel, a series of condominiums, various dining areas, a dance studio run by someone from TV’s “Dancing with the Stars,” shops, office space and more.
He says he’s glad to be joining the city’s culinary scene, which he thinks has taken off in the last couple of years. “There’s some really good cooking here,” he said. “There’s a real renaissance going on.” He singled out Auden and chef Jason Dady, the latter of whom offered a team from his various restaurants, from the Lodge Restaurant of Castle hills to Bin 555, to serve a series of ceviches to the guests.
Ceviches displaying Pyles’ penchant for bold flavors will be a centerpiece of the eponymous new restaurant. In fact, there will be a ceviche bar with freshly made examples for all to try. Bronzini with fennel and vanilla, sea scallop migas, lobster with avocado and guayaba, a 21-ounce cowboy rib-eye with red chile onion rings, and coriander-cured rack of lamb are among the many items currently on his menu.
The new restaurant will seat about 120 plus more on the patio. That’s a little less than the Dallas flagship, but the kitchen will be the same size. There will also be a private dining area for parties that offers a 21st century take on the chef’s table. Instead of sitting in a kitchen corner, near the chef while he works, the guests will be able to watch all of the kitchen action on closed-circuit TV, which allows them to see the action of preparing a meal up close.
Pyles said his cooking has evolved over the years to include new ingredients from his global dining adventures. Recent trips to Spain and Peru have brought new flavors into play, as have the spices of the Middle East. He’s headed to South Africa and Mozambique soon, so who knows what lies in store when Stephan Pyles the restaurant opens here at the end of the year.
“As long as the flavors are big and bold,” he said, in keeping with his Southwestern roots.
Though construction is far from complete on the restaurant, the wood burning-style pizza oven has been delivered.
Pyles hasn’t decided who the chef will be, but he did say it will be somebody who has worked for him and knows his style of cooking. We can also expect to see more of him in town on special occasions, much in the same way it has been good to see John Besh drop in on Lüke on the River Walk.
Johnny Hernandez is also mentioned as one of the chefs who will be on the Éilan scene with a variation on his La Gloria restaurant.
The first phase of the development is well under way, according to David Leff of Wereldhave USA, a Dutch-based developer that also has projects in San Diego, Dallas, Austin and Washington, D.C.
The main building is a hotel that will feature 165 rooms as well as 10,000 square feet of meeting space. A fitness area and a spa, open to both hotel guests and residents of the complex, will also be included. The developers want to have a market as well, but details will not be announced until someone has signed a lease.
Corky Ballas, who partnered with Cloris Leachman on “Dancing with the Stars,” will be opening a dance studio in Éilan.
“We have 539 living units,” Leff said; those include one-bedroom, two-bedroom and studio units, and they will be completed after the hotel. Two office buildings are also under construction.
The entire Éilan project covers 120 acres. In case you’re curious, the project’s name is derived from the French word for “ ‘élan,’ meaning vigor, liveliness and distinctive elegance,” according to the press material.