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San Antonio’s Restaurant Scene Is Busy Dishing Up New Flavors


San Antonio’s restaurant scene is growing on all levels. Here are a few places that have opened recently or are opening in the near future.

La Tequilera del Patron has opened at 17776 Blanco Road.

The restaurant bills itself as “the real Mexican cantina” and offers a varied menu that includes Chicharron de Rib-eye, marinated and fried chunks of rib-eye; grilled Artichoke Tequilera with caper aioli; Chicharron el Borracho, fried pork with a molcajete and beer sauce; and grilled short ribs. Other dishes include ceviche, beef tripe, paprika-fried chicken, tacos, soups and salads, and, on weekends, a series of cures for those suffering from a hangover.

The kitchen is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday;  11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Tuesday; 11 a.m.-midnight Wednesday-Saturday. The bar stays open later. Call 210-479-1210 for information or click here.

Bite, 1012 S. Presa St., is a new Southtown destination opened by chef Lisa Astorga-Watel, wife of Damien Watel, who is known for his own culinary ventures.

According to the restaurant’s website, “Bite’s menu is never made of tiny hors d’oeuvres and cheap ingredients … but real dinner food! Imagine, instead of half a duck, it’s a quarter duck, instead of three lamb chops, it’s one really juicy nice one! It’s a full lobster tail in your spring roll! You probably expect to pay $40 bucks or more for your lamb chops, so doesn’t $18 for our lamb chop delight you in more ways than one?!!”

For more information, call 210-532-2551.

Restaurants at the Pearl Brewery will soon be opening in quick succession. First up is The Granary ‘Cue and Brew, followed by the Boiler House Texas Grill and Wine Garden, a standalone and a new concept from the owners of Max’s Wine Dive.

Jesse T. Perez will follow with his tribute to American favorites with Arcade. Early next year, look for a new venture from Steven McHugh as well as Green Vegetarian Cuisine, which is moving from North Flores.

A guac-topped favorite at Old West Burgers

Old West Burgers has moved from Evers Road to 4553 N. Loop 1604 W.

As the name implies, burgers are what dominate here with everything from a traditional burger to the wonderfully named Chalupacabra Burger. There are also burgers made with bison, chicken, turkey and vegetables.

For more information, call  210-267-1774 or click here.

Papa Nacho’s is opening soon at 203 N. Loop 1604 W., the site of the former El Papalote.

If you have information on restaurant openings or closings, email walker@savorsa.com or griffin@savorsa.com.

 

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Chefs’ Corner: Two Approaches to Sweet Potatoes, One Great Taste


Lemon Sweet Potatoes

At the recent San Antonio Cellar Classic, those who got past the vast array of wines found themselves faced with two similar sweet potato dishes that were simple yet sublime.

Yet the road each chef took to get that dish to the table was different, even if the end results mirrored each other.

Jesse Perez of the upcoming Arcade at the Pearl Brewery served his lemon sweet potatoes as a foundation for flank steak with a chimichurri sauce. To make the sweet potatoes, he roasted them in a convection oven at 400 degrees for 90 minutes until they were tender. Then he puréed them with lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and a little cream.

A handful of tables away, Stefan Bowers of Feast, 1024 S. Alamo St., had a similar recipe but a different approach. He roasted his sweet potatoes for 10 hours at 200 degrees. “Sweet potatoes loved to be cook slow and low,” he said. Then he added lemon juice, salt and a touch of cream.

The choice of cooking the sweet potatoes is yours — you could use a crock pot, if you wanted — as long as they’re tender. The beauty of this recipe goes beyond its simplicity. It has no added sugar, and it doesn’t need any. You’ll taste for yourself how naturally sweet these bright and colorful tubers really are, perfect for fall dinners including that great sweet potato day, Thanksgiving.

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Griffin to Go: Mac and Cheese Me, Please


What comfort macaroni and cheese brings.

The second annual San Antonio Cellar Classic drew hundreds to the Pearl Brewery Stables Saturday to sample a wide variety of wines that they could then take home at a discounted rate.

Taking tastes at the San Antonio Cellar Classic.

Shoppers looking to shore up their cellars with some age-worthy bottles or those just wanting to get an early start on holiday treats lined up before the doors opened and then lined up at the end to collect their purchases.

In between, there were dozens of wines poured alongside some small plates available from a series of restaurants, both established and soon to be on the dining scene, offering proof once again that fine wine loves great food.

A floral Terrazas Torrontés 2001 offered a nice balance to Feast chef Stefan Bowers shrimp ceviche, while Bending Branch’s new Cabernet Sauvignon and the Col Solare, Washington state’s answer to Italy’s Super Tuscans, both went well with sous vide flank steak from Jesse Perez’s upcoming Arcade. The tangy Ripa delle More 2008 from Castello Vicchiomaggio and veal polpette from chef James Moore’s soon-to-open Boiler House Texas Grill. Clint Connaway of Max’s Wine Dive offered a strata that was made for the Ruinart Rosé Champagne.

Jesse Perez plates his dish.

Urban Taco, NAO, the Bright Shawl, H-E-B and Ms. Chocolatier also offered treats ranging from flautas and gazpacho to salted caramel cake balls and red velvet cupcakes.

Cake balls.

While the guests were sipping and snacking to their hearts’ content, the real work was taking place in a corner under the staircase. Five of us had to judge seven different macaroni and cheese dishes from the participating restaurants. TV and web personality Tanji Patton, food writer Chris Dunn, Suzanne Taranto Etheredge of Culinaria, Lenny Friedman of Los #3 Dinners, which provided the great background music, and I were all set for the difficult task, while food writer Julia Celeste Rosenfeld served as tie-breaker, if one were needed.

How  do you judge macaroni and cheese, we asked ourselves. Quality of the pasta counts, of course. So does the nature of the cheese. Is it creamy and velvety? Does the cheese complement the rest of the ingredients? How well do the rest of the ingredients, whatever they may be, fit in with macaroni and cheese?

A judge reaches for a sample of macaroni and cheese.

The choices we were faced with ran the gamut from two made with bacon to one that featured duck confit and spinach. One was more like a casserole, in that that the meat took over, leaving the cheese in the dust. Some had breadcrumbs on top, others arrived under the protection of a crispy shield of cheese.

In the end, we were almost unanimous in our agreement that Feast’s Stefan Bowers had come up with a winner with his smoky, spicy mac and cheese with shishito peppers folded in. The smokiness carried over into the cheese. Not that the others were slouches by any means, but in Bower’s version, everything played together to provide that pure comfort that comes from a top-notch macaroni and cheese.

And the not-too-hot spice in the dish would have been perfect with the fruity Tortoise Creek Grenache Rosé d’Une Nuit 2011, a French rosé with a very New World label and approach.

Hard work, folks. Just be glad there are folks willing to sacrifice time and taste buds for a good cause.

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NAO at the CIA to Have Soft Opening May 23


Robert Fleming is opening a second Magnolia Pancake Haus this week.

NAO, the Latin restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America, will have its soft opening on May 23.

It will be in the Pearl Brewery, 200 E. Grayson St., and will feature dishes from throughout South America, Latin America and the islands.

NAO will be student-staffed and the menu will feature traditional dishes creatively reinterpreted for San Antonio diners.

Jesse Perez

In other Pearl Brewery news, chef Jesse Perez is opening his contemporary American restaurant, Arcade, this fall. It will be in the lab building near the stables on the property.

The streamlined industrial look of the space will be playful, Perez says.

We’re hoping the food will be as good as what we sampled from Perez during this year’s Culinaria.

In other restaurant news, Robert Fleming will be opening his second Magnolia Pancake Haus on Friday at 10333 Huebner Road.

Old favorites, such as the Apfelpfannekuchen and the pancakes as well as the house-made sausage and eggs to order, will be available. Call (210) 561-6117.

Robbie Nowlin, who left Jason Dady’s the Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, to work at the prestigious French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., has returned to town. He will be working for Dady again, this time at Bin 555.

The Esquire Tavern

The Esquire Tavern, 155 E. Commerce St., has been named one of the top bars in America by Men’s Fitness magazine. The listing says that “Luckily despite its tourist-y location, this is a casual local favorite that just happens to boast the longest wooden bar in Texas. At 79 feet it’s the perfect spot to throw back a few Lone Stars (the “National Beer of Texas”), and hang with the locals. As for cocktails they’re fittingly big and boozy.”

The Grand Hyatt, 600 E. Market St., has a new executive chef. Lawrence Eells grew up moving around the world. As a young boy in a military family, he spent the majority of his childhood in places such as Okinawa, the Philippines, Shanghai, Hawaii, Albuquerque, San Diego, Minneapolis and Dallas.

After paying his way through college by working in the food industry, Eells took a job as chef de cuisine at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis in 1982. Since then, he has held a 30-year culinary career with Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, working nearly every position in the kitchen at nine properties across the United States, opening four hotels and forging incredible, long-lasting relationships along the way. Most recently, Eells was the executive chef at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa in Hawaii, a position he held for the past six years.“I bring excitement and innovation with strong roots,” he said. “I hope to continue to use my background and experience to make myself valuable to Hyatt for years to come.”

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