Archive | August 25th, 2011

Thumbs Up: Oro’s Chorizo Corndogs … Cherry Crème Brûlée

Thumbs Up: Oro’s Chorizo Corndogs … Cherry Crème Brûlée

The weather almost stole the show during lunch at Oro.  Actual rain fell for 30-40 seconds downtown Thursday before 1 p.m., dousing the horses (which didn’t appear to mind) and wagons hitched up behind the Alamo and darkening the sky.

What this unusual weather event also did was draw a friend’s and my attention briefly away from the sizzling hot Chorizo Corndogs on our plates. The jicama slaw, the red pepper mojo, the crunchy batter… everything right with these morsels of lightly spicy, Spanish-style sausages.

There were definitely a lot of San Antonio diners who would have loved this Culinaria Restaurant Week appetizer, but few were in attendance to partake. Let’s just say —their loss. The service was good, the three prix fixe courses well designed to appeal.

The other distraction was the Oro Restaurant Week dinner menu.  Three courses for $35: the Oro Mac N Cheese with Truffle Oil and Blackened Breadcrumbs; Shiner Bock Braised Beef Short Ribs with Bacon-Scented Quinoa, peas, carrots and natural jus; and for dessert, House-Made Bittersweet Chocolate Cake with Passion Fruit and Candied Jalapeños: all sounding outrageously good without trying too hard.

Mesquite Smoked Chicken Avocado Sandwich on Jalapeño Cheddar Bun.

The Mesquite-Smoked Chicken Avocado Sandwich was a high-stacked treat. The jalapeño-Cheddar bun was thick and rich, buttery and grilled to a crisp. It was scattered with some pickled onions which were anything but an afterthought. We were parceling them out so we could add their tangy crunch to each bite. The seasoned fries were just the way we like them, fried only until the lightly seasoned coating was light gold and just right.

Oro Cherry Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee.

Our Seasonal Cherry Tahitian Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée came with a satisfyingly brittle caramelized sugar crust over a pale pink filling. It didn’t have much of a cherry taste, but just for a little enhancement was a maraschino cherry on top, two fresh blackberries, a dollop of whipped cream on the side, a sliced strawberry and, for good measure, a couple of shortbread cookies.

Lunch at Oro was really a treat for just $15, and for that we thank chef Chris Cook. Remember the Alamo; remember Oro at the Emily Morgan. Just repeat to yourself a few times: chorizo corndogs, chorizo corndogs…


The Emily Morgan Hotel
705 E. Houston Street




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Molly O’Neill Key Speaker at Texas Foodways Event Sept. 8

Molly O’Neill Key Speaker at Texas Foodways Event Sept. 8

Molly O’Neill, author of “One Big Table; A Portrait of American Cooking,” (Simon & Schuster, $50) will speak about immigrant foodways at this Texas Foodways event Sept. 8., 7-10 p.m.

The event, at the Pearl Brewery, features a chef-prepared, served, and seated dinner. Cocktails will be served with Texas spirits, Texas craft brewed beer will be available, and Texas wine will be paired with the meal’s courses by a master sommelier. The meal will be influenced by immigrant communities in the San Antonio area and prepared by chefs Andrew Weissman of Il Sogno & Sandbar, Elizabeth Kossick, Latin Cuisines Specialist for The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio; Tan Nguyen of Central Market, San Antonio; Jesse T. Perez, Burbank graduate and executive chef, consultant for Alamo Cafe; Jason Dady of The Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, Rebecca Rather of Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe.  Copies of the book signed by the author will be available for purchase courtesy of the Twig book shop. Tickets include all food and drink.

Tickets are $150. To purchase, link here.


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Kirby’s Lays On the Flavor

Kirby’s Lays On the Flavor

Kirby's duck confit is served with foie gras and a blackberry-veal sauce.

Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse has produced a Restaurant Week menu that sounded so good I’m planning on going twice, just to try an array of the dishes being offered.

My first visit, on Tuesday evening, was spent with friends celebrating their 58th anniversary. And if that weren’t special enough, the food, some excellent wine and great service managed to push everything over the top.

Most of us in the group started the evening with slivers of tender duck confit presented in a succulent pool of lightly salty duck fat. On top was a judicious bit of foie gras that practically melted into the duck. A blackberry-veal sauce on the side tasted great, but it was almost unnecessary given the standalone perfection of the duck and the foie gras. One taste of that decadent combination and my toes were definitely curling. A sip of icy cold Mersault, with a steely undercurrent slicing through some lovely apple, completed the picture in high style. The other appetizer option is the sage-infused crab cake, which one of us said she thoroughly enjoyed. (I’ll try that on my next visit. If I can get past the duck …)

Kirby's at night.

There are five entrée options for the main course, including halibut and a large pork chop atop maple butter. I had enjoyed the chop last year at this time, so I decided to go with the Australian rack of lamb, with four meaty chops presented a beautifully red-at-the-center medium rare, as ordered. A sauce that tasted of dried mushroom, veal stock and butter gave the meat an even great kick, all of which were complemented by a merlot from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.

Several friends also enjoyed the Veal Oscar, a 5-ounce filet mignon with jumbo lump crab meat on top. The velvety meat ably demonstrated chef Daniel Nemec’s way with a steak, making you want more, though both found the small cut to be just right. (Larger cuts are available at an additional cost, as our waiter pointed out.)

Side dishes of sautéed vegetables and mashed potatoes were served family-style.

Dessert options included the signature chocolate spice cake, which is served warm and never fails to elicit a smile; a key lime pie that was pleasantly tart and creamy; and a Grand Marnier crème brûlée that bore no trace of orange or alcohol flavor, but did taste like pure whipped cream with a sugar crust on top. When I explained to the waiter that I was diabetic, he brought a welcome cup of fresh berries instead.

I would like to bring up two slight drawbacks to the evening that prompted more laughs than grumbles. One is that the noise level in the place, packed to the gills on a Tuesday night, was high. Maybe dinner in the now-smoke-free bar would have been a little more conducive to philosophical discourse — not that we had that in mind.

Australian rack of lamb with a shiitake-veal sauce.

The other is that the dining room is dark. Too dark to read the wine list. We had to borrow a flashlight from our waiter to do that. But it meant no photos of the happy couple, my other friends or even the dining area itself.

So what? The food and the fellowship combined to make the evening a joyous occasion. That’s what Kirby’s hopes to offer, and on that evening, it succeeded brilliantly. Now, for the return visit …

All Restaurant Week menus are $35 a person. For more, check out the Culinaria ad at the top of this page.

Kirby’s is offering its Restaurant Week menu through Sept. 3.

Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse
123 N. Loop 1604 E.
Dinner: Daily

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