Tag Archive | "Chef Jesse Perez"

Brunch, Burgers Please Palates at Arcade Midtown Kitchen

Back in the 1980s, when I wrote my first restaurant review for a daily newspaper in Flagstaff, Ariz., finding worthy restaurants to review was nothing like our current dining scene in San Antonio.

Burgers and steaks were the general fare along with pizza parlors that didn’t range far from the basics — sausage and pepperoni. We had massive hotel Sunday brunches, all the rage at the time, and various mom-and-pop places that could turn out good ethnic meals.

Arcade Midtown Kitchen's Chicken and Waffles

Arcade Midtown Kitchen’s Chicken and Waffles

For more complex fare, we’d head to Sedona, a scenic 30-minute drive away. Restaurants in this now-raging tourist mecca stretched their culinary wings not so much to gratify Flagstaff diners but to lure in well-heeled snowbirds, down for the winter to soak up the beautiful scenery and climate.

The real high-rollers would fly into the tiny local airport at the top of a red-rock mesa from cities as far-flung as New York and Chicago. They would stay a few days for sight-seeing, seeking out “gourmet” meals. (This was pre-harmonic-convergence Sedona, before the crystal wearers came to town and the word “Sedona” turned into a hot branding term used to sell anything from socks to SUVs.)

I thought about these, my younger days, as I sat with at a table with a couple of dozen other dedicated foodies Saturday morning at chef/owner Jesse Perez’s Arcade Midtown Kitchen. Some were staff writers, others freelancers, bloggers, magazine owners as well as the indefatigable social media foodies taking the city by storm. Many of them were in their 20s and 30s and they are in a new world where chefs take on the fame of rock stars and diners had better know their stuff when it comes to profiling the complex flavors in a dish.

These folks ably deconstructed the dishes and weren’t shy about mentioning their personal likes and dislikes. They also seemed able to put those aside to make a reasonable and serious judgment of dishes on their own merits.

Happy Daddy, Arcade's approach to Huevos Rancheros -- with petite filet of beef.

Happy Daddy, Arcade’s approach to Huevos Rancheros — with petite filet of beef.

Perez had invited us in to sample brunch as he looks toward adding Saturday brunch in the near future. Sunday brunch is already a standby at the restaurant that opened earlier this year.

We shared dishes ranging from the traditional eggs Benedict with a couple of custom touches to Happy Daddy, a petite beef filet rubbed with chile along with potato hash and chorizo coins for a spicy take on huevos rancheros.  (The dish got its name as a particular favorite on Father’s Day.)

The Arcade burger, which is rapidly becoming one of the city’s favorites, was also brought out, inspiring as much comment as did Perez’s take on Chicken and Waffles (boned chicken, pounded out ‘Milanesa’ style and then breaded) or the luscious, multilayered red velvet cake.

Burgers are beloved. That was true long before I began my food-writing career.

While we don’t want burgers for every meal, we’re still excited to find one that is exceptional and inspires questions ranging from what is the meat used in the grind, fat-to-lean ratio, and of course, what’s in the ‘secret sauce.’

But our demands have changed over the years. Secret sauce better have some pretty good secrets in there – and in Perez’s burger, the only secret he would divulge was the dash of blood orange vinegar. His sauce also has a bite – Sriracha? He wouldn’t tell.

Arcade's burger is getting a reputation -- and it's a good one.

Arcade’s burger is getting a reputation — and it’s a good one.

In the old days, I don’t recall that we discussed the provenance of the beef, or what cuts were used in the grind other than the occasional reference to a “sirloin burger” on a menu.  Perez uses ground chuck and brisket, a combination that I’ve found to be one of the tastiest – and he uses a lean-to-fat ratio of about 70-to-30. Generous on the flavor, but not greasy.

The cheese is American – and I’d guess that is a nod to the country’s tradition, but a good natural cheese such as cheddar would make me happier. But the browned “soft” onions, as the menu describes them, seem to melt right into the beef and they just about cancel out the sticky cheese.

So, as things change, things remain the same. That cliché does apply to our appetite for burgers — as well as for Saturday and Sunday brunches, for finding food with the best flavor and always looking for an element of discovery.  And, may it always be so.

Arcade Midtown Kitchen
303 Pearl Pkwy.
(210) 369-9664

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Fundraiser for Villa Finale to be Culinary Adventure

Look South will be an adventure inspired by the collections of Villa Finale, and is also a fundraiser for Villa Finale, a National Trust Historic Site.

The event will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 at the home of Walter Nold Mathis, 401 King William St. The evening promises music in the garden, tours of Villa Finale and dinner, a culinary journey that does “look South” prepared by top San Antonio chefs Johnny Hernandez, Geronimo Lopez and Jesse Perez.

The cuisine will be Peruvian, Colonial Spanish and South Texas Cuisine. Menus, below:

Chef Johnny Hernandez, of La Gloria, La Fruiteria and Casa Hernan

Green Chile Pork Pozole with Shrimp
Piloncillo Candied Pork Belly with White Chocolate Mole

Chef Geronimo Lopez, NAO New World Flavors, the CIA at Pearl

Ceviche with Amazonian Passion “Tiger’s Milk,” Sweet Potato Emulsion and Crispy Corn
“Chifa” Beef Tenderloin in a Sweet and Sour Sauce Peruvian Style with South American Rice and Beans

Chef Jesse Perez, Arcade, opening at Pearl 2012

Broken Arrow Wild Boar Stew and Pork Chop
Apple Cider Grits, Cranberry, On the Range BBQ Glaze

French Macarons created by Bakery Lorraine
Cocktails crafted by Olaf Harmel, of Blue Box Bar as well as wines from Republic, Latin American beers from Silver Eagle Distributor. Also, enjoy music in the garden by Adrian Quesada-Money Chicha

Festive garden attire, valet parking.

Ticket sales have been extended to Friday, Oct. 5.

To purchase your tickets, call Michael Anderson at 210-223-9800 ext. 34325.  Tickets are $250 per person, open seating; Tables for 10 are $3,000, reserved; and Special Table(s) for 10  that  includes admission for 10 guests to the director’s reception beginning at 6 p.m., with tableside beverage service and two bottles of specially selected wine for your table. $4,000.

You may also purchase tickets through





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