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Three SA Restaurants Get Some Love from Food & Wine


The November 2014 issue of Food & Wine magazine singles out the 20 Best Dishes in Texas, and three San Antonio places have made the list.

Thai-style fried chicken at Tuk Tuk Tap Room was one of three SA dishes singled out in the latest Food & Wine magazine.

Thai-style fried chicken at Tuk Tuk Tap Room was one of three SA dishes singled out in the latest Food & Wine magazine.

Coming in at No. 13 is the Texas Toast at the Granary ‘Cue & Brew, 602 Ave. A. Bread and butter? Sure thing, when the bread is Tim Rattray’s housemade treat fried in beef tallow and topped with barbecue butter made by whipping drippings from the smoker into butter. “I couldn’t believe how much was going on in that little scoop,” Gina Hamadey writes.

Next on the list, at No. 14, is the Thai Fried Chicken at Tuk Tuk Tap Room, 1702 Broadway, which was singled out for the garlicky lemongrass-chile sauce that you can spoon on top of the crispy chicken, which adds a sweet and spicy touch to all that crunch.

IMG_6960No. 19 on the list is the Chile Relleno en Nogada at Liberty Bar, 1111 S. Alamo St. “The classic Pueblan dish is on the menu as a starter, but it’s big enough for a meal,” she writes. “Texture-wise it’s awesome: A poblano chile is stuffed with a lovely mixture of beef, potatoes and onion, and it’s covered with a walnut-(goat-cheese) sauce. Then they sprinkle beautiful pomegranate seeds on top.” (Note: the dish as labeled in the printed magazine was in error; this is the correct way to order the dish when you go to Liberty Bar!)

Other dishes on the list include the whole pig’s head from CBD Provisions in Dallas to the bone-in pork belly at Killen’s Texas Barbecue in Pearland, meaning there’s plenty of culinary treats to sample statewide.

Chef Tim Love of The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in Dallas, Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughan and Liz Lambert, who owns the Havana Hotel in San Antonio made the selections.

 

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Culinary Notes: Taste New Texas Product; Meet Diana Kennedy; CIA Graduation


Lori Krieger

Lori Krieger

Gaucho Gourmet: New condiment line and cheese counter

Taste Elevated owner and Texas native Lori Krieger will be part of the popular Gaucho Gourmet Saturday scene this weekend as Taste Elevated owner Lori Krieger demonstrates tastes and pairing samples of her new line of condiments.

The store, at 935 Isom Road, is open Saturday, Nov. 2 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.  Show your support for Texas products by sampling these flavorful toppings and ingredients Krieger developed, and which are being produced by Fisher & Wieser in Fredericksburg.  Krieger’s lineup of versatile condiments are a perfect fit to many of Gaucho Gourmet’s charcuterie products including cured meats and cheeses.

Gaucho Gourmet also will have its new cheese counter ready for shopping — just before the holiday season really gets into year. Buy Parmigiano Reggiano DOP at $9.95 a pound, as well as these new cheeses: Piacentino sheep’s milk cheese with saffron and black pepper, Brillo DeVino wine-seasoned Pecorino cheese and more.

Diana Kennedy book photoDiana Kennedy at Guadalupe, Liberty Bar

Diana Kennedy, “the Julia Child of Mexican cuisine,” visits San Antonio for a rare book signing and Q&A event at the historic Guadalupe theater. The event is hosted by the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in partnership with Liberty Bar.

Admission is $5 or guests may choose to donate two canned food items. All food donations will benefit the Inner City Development. Copies of her latest book, “My Mexico”, will also be on sale for $40.

Have dinner with Kennedy at the Liberty Bar that evening, from 5:30-8:30 p.m.  The $100 per-person cost includes, dinner, wine and a copy of her latest book.  All proceeds from the evening will benefit the Guadalupe’s Palabra Punch Literature series.

Tickets for the Liberty Bar event may be purchased at the Guadalupe and Liberty Bar or by phone at 210-271-3151. Or click here.

 

CIA Graduates 11 with AAS degrees this month

cia1Eleven graduates received their Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degrees in culinary arts during the commencement ceremony at the Pearl complex earlier this month.

This was the third AAS graduation at the San Antonio campus. The 11 new alumni can continue their studies in the CIA’s bachelor’s degree programs in culinary arts management or culinary science at the Hyde Park campus.

In addition to earning an AAS in culinary arts, as of this fall, students at the CIA San Antonio can major in baking and pastry arts. As part of their studies, during sophomore year, students work in one of the two public restaurants on campus—Nao: New World Flavors or the CIA Bakery Café.

Andrew Weissman, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and chef/owner of a group of San Antonio restaurants, was the commencement speaker.

“Develop a work-life balance,” said Weissman, a four-time nominee for the James Beard Foundation Award as Best Chef: Southwest.

“But you must also realize there must be sacrifice and struggle to achieve your dreams. Be prepared to commit. This effort will create empathy so when you become a leader, you will better understand those you lead.” Weissman earned his culinary arts degree from the CIA’s Hyde Park, NY campus in 1996.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Syrup Doesn’t Have to Be Simple


You don't need fancy containers to store your simple syrup (left) and flavored syrup, such as Liberty Bar's hoja santa syrup (right).

You don’t need fancy containers to store your simple syrup (left) and flavored syrup, such as Liberty Bar’s hoja santa syrup (right).

The bartender at the opening of the San Antonio Cocktail Conference handed me an icy mixed drink and began to rattle off the ingredients. “Drambuie, pisco, lemon juice, Earl Grey simple syrup …”

Wait a minute there, I said. Earl Grey simple syrup. What’s that? Sweat tea?

Sort of, she laughed. Then she explained that it was a simple syrup flavored with Earl Grey tea, known for its bergamot flavor. She didn’t have an exact recipe for how to make this at home, since her container appeared to contain more than three gallons.

But she did suggest trying 4 or 5 tea bags added to your basic recipe for syrup.

Simple syrup is a liquid sweetener in which the sugar has been dissolved already, so you don’t get that gritty sediment at the bottom of your glass that happens when you add sugar to cold tea. The recipe is simplicity itself: Dissolve 1 cup of sugar in 1 cup of water over heat until the sugar crystals disappear. Cool. And use in your favorite cocktails.

With the Earl Grey, you’d steep those tea bags in simmering water for a few minutes before stirring in the sugar.

Of course, syrups have been a part of cocktail culture for a long time, from adding a splash of grenadine to finish off a Tequila Sunrise to stirring some ginger syrup (see recipe below) into a Moscow Mule for an extra kick. Back home in Kentucky, we add mint to simple syrup before making mint juleps for the derby.

Make your own flavored syrups for cocktails.

Make your own flavored syrups for cocktails.

More and more syrups are being incorporated into the world of handcrafted cocktails these days as a means of adding dimension as well as balance to drinks. And as with any cooking, the limits of what syrups you create are strictly those of your imagination.

They are also cost-effective, says Jeret Peña, owner of the Brooklynite, 516 Brooklyn Ave.

“Flavored simple syrups are the best way to add flavor to a drink without spending an arm and a leg at a liquor store,” he says. “Why buy a framboise when you can buy organic raspberries and muddle them into a bowl filled with simple syrup? Leave for a few days and — boom! — you have a traditional raspberry syrup.”

Not every flavor is so easy and not every ingredient is readily available, Peña says, citing several obscure items, such as “an elderflower, hops or certain spices.”

Why use a simple syrup instead of infusing an alcohol?

“Here is another way to look at infusions,” Peña says “I have a peanut-washed bourbon on menu. I can’t imagine it working with gin or tequila, so there is no reason to replicate it in anything other than the bourbon. The opposite to this theory is the use of certain items that can easily be used with multiple items. In this case, I love making hopped syrups because it can work with a multitude of spirits, such as gin, tequila and even Irish whiskey.”

The market is full of a number of infused vodkas, but you won’t find that otherwise flavorless liquor getting too much respect from makers of hand-crafted cocktails.

As Peña says, “Vodka seems to be far removed from my craft, and the thought of infusing it seems even further. I always tell people if they want a flavored vodka, try gin.”

Liberty Bar's Santa Pepin (left) and Ruby Menta.

Liberty Bar’s Santa Pepin (left) and Ruby Menta.

A friend of mine, Glenn Drown, has made a blackberry syrup for cocktails using a recipe that’s almost the same as making jelly, only you don’t cook it long enough to let it jell. He likes it mixed with vodka and lemon juice. He also said he’d like to use a bit of syrup to help rim glasses with either sugar or salt for cocktails.

To get started, think of flavors that you like in your cocktails.

Want something tart? Try a pomegranate syrup, which can be made several ways. One involves dissolving pomegranate molasses in a little boiling water, not to dilute the flavor but to dissolve any sugar crystals and to make it more liquid and easier to mix in a cocktail. Another involves using pomegranate juice, sugar and boiling water. These variations are different from many commercial grenadines, which can be made from any number of dark fruits nowadays, including black currants, or have unwelcome ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup added. So, if you’re a stickler for handcrafted cocktails, make your own pomegranate syrup the next time you make a pair of Fresh Pears (see recipe below) at home.

Almond syrup involves water, sugar and almond extract. A coconut variation would be made with, you guessed it, coconut extract. I could see myself going through my spice cabinet and hauling out everything from peppermint extract to jackfruit, and playing around with the resulting syrups. They don’t have to be sweet or fruit flavors either. Think of syrups infused with vanilla, basil or saffron.

Or think of the hoja santa syrup that Liberty Bar, 1111 S. Alamo St., uses in its Santa Pepin cocktail. “We dry fresh hoja santa leaves from the bush by the elevator,” says Katie McKee. “It is my understanding that dried hoja santa can be found, but we like using the fresh.”

If you make your own berry syrups, especially with the likes of seedy blackberries or raspberries, make sure you double strain the final product. You don’t want your guests to be picking their teeth because of your cocktail.

Of course, there’s chocolate syrup out there, which is used for Black Russians among other sweet favorites. If you are buying a prefab syrup, such as Hershey’s, read the label first and give it a taste. Be alert for chemical finishes and off-putting additives or flavor flaws that could be magnified when shaken into your cocktail.

Or, if you prefer, you could make your own chocolate syrup (see recipe below). It not only tastes better and the quality is not only higher, whether you’re using it in a cocktail or on ice cream (or both), it’s also less expensive. And that’s something not to overlooked when you consider the cost of a good bottle of tequila or bourbon these days.

Liberty Bar photos by Phillip Kent.

Liberty Bar's Ruby Menta

Liberty Bar’s Ruby Menta

Liberty Bar’s Ruby Menta

1 1/4 ounces Ilegal Mezcal Jovan (skanky mezcal will not do)
1 ounce fresh squeezed Texas Ruby Red grapefruit juice
Juice from 1/2 fresh squeezed lime
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Fresh mint leaves (3 big or 5 little)

Muddle mezcal, grapefruit juice, lime juice, syrup and mint well. Shake, strain and pour over ice or serve up in a martini glass.

Garnish with a fresh lime twist.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Nate Cassie/Liberty Bar

Liberty Bar’s Santa Pepin

1 cup dry hoja santa leaves, crumbled
1 quart simple syrup
Ancho chile powder
Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
3 slices English cucumber
2 ounces Don Julio Blanco tequila
Cucumber slice, for garnish

Place the crumbled dry hoja santa leaves and the simple syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes then remove from heat. Let it cool, then fine strain the mixture. It can be used immediately or refrigerated for later use.

Rim glass with ancho chile powder. Again, this specific touch makes a huge difference

Combine lemon juice, English cucumber slices, 1 ounce of hoja santa simple syrup and ice into a shaker cup. Muddle. Add Don Julio Blanco tequila, shake well and strain into ancho chile-rimmed glass. Garnish with a cucumber slice.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Katie McKee/Liberty Bar

Chocolate Syrup

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 dash salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the water, sugar, cocoa powder and salt together in a saucepan over low heat; whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and begins to simmer. Remove from heat and stir the vanilla into the sauce. Serve warm or cover and refrigerate until serving.

Makes 1 pint.

From allrecipes.com

Ginger Syrup

1 cup unpeeled, washed fresh ginger, roughly chopped
1 cups sugar
3 cups water

Process ginger chunks in a food processor or blender until finely chopped. Place in a large stock pot. Add sugar and water to the pot and stir. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for one hour until a rich syrup is created. Strain the syrup twice through cheese cloth or a sieve into a large jar or bottle. Refrigerate.

Makes about 4 pints.

Adapted from Betty Fraser and Denise DeCarlo, Grub, Hollywood, Calif./Imbibe

Fresh Pear

1 medium Bosc pear
2 tablespoons citrus-infused vodka
1 tablespoon pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoons pomegranate syrup
3 tablespoons hard apple cider
Pear slices

Shred pear; place pulp on several layers of cheesecloth. Gather edge of cheesecloth together; squeeze over a glass measuring cup to yield 1/3 cup juice. Discard solids. Combine pear juice, vodka, pomegranate juice, lime juice, and promegranate syrup in a martini shaker with ice; shake. Strain about 3 tablespoons vodka mixture into each of 2 martini glasses. Top each serving with 1 1/2 tablespoons hard apple cider. Garnish with pear slices.

Makes 2 cocktails.

Adapted from Yummly.com

 

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2012 Was a Year of Eating Well


The Pearl has become a food lover’s center for festivals as well as restaurants.

Bliss is aptly named.

As we approach the end of 2012, it’s time to look back on the many great flavors that we sampled. The list is lengthy, thanks to a decided upturn in culinary offerings across the city, both on the dining scene and for the food lover in general.

One of the biggest food stories of the year was the continued growth of the Pearl Brewery, which saw the opening of three praise-worthy eateries and a trendy bar. It also was the location of an increasing number of food festivals, meaning thousands from all over the city were showing up on a regular basis for cooking demonstrations at the Saturday farmers market, for paella, burgers and barbecue or tamales, and for the restaurants, all in the quest of good food.

A glimpse into the kitchen at the Granary.

The list of new restaurants includes the Granary ‘Cue and Brew, which restored beer making to the premises. Artisan barbecue, fine brews and an irresistible condiment known as ‘cue butter all made this a welcome addition. The Boiler House Texas Grill and Wine Garden delivers on the belief that quality grilled meat is prerequisite in the Lone Star State, and the massive setting, covering two stories, is epic enough to complement chef James Moore’s ranch-style fare.

The most intriguing addition, though, is NAO, the Culinary Institute of America’s full-service restaurant, which has provided San Antonio with its broadest and most authentic taste of South and Central American cuisines to date. These exciting flavors, from seafood stews and roasted meats to an inviting cocktail program, have somehow not been able to secure a foothold before in a city that values its Tex-Mex above all; yet in just a few months, NAO has developed a local following, and its client base should grow as word continues to get out to the rest of the country that the school has a campus and a destination restaurant here. When the visiting chef series returns, with culinary stars from countries as diverse as Brazil, Peru and Argentina, you’d be wise to make your reservations as soon as possible.

The CIA’s flagship restaurant in San Antonio.

NAO is also built on the concept of small plates, which has also not been widely popular in San Antonio. Yet Bite in the Southtown area and a revitalized Nosh on Austin Highway are joining in the effort to break that mold.

Southtown continued to attract diners from across the city, as Mark Bliss returned with a new restaurant, the aptly named Bliss. The warmth of the place, the impressive setting and the comfort of the food, especially when enjoyed at the chef’s table in the kitchen, all help place it among the city’s best.

Johnny Hernandez opened two distinct venues in the Southtown area, if not Southtown proper. They include the Frutería at the Steel House Lofts, where you can get everything from market-fresh fruit for breakfast to an impressive array of, you got it, small plates for dinner, and Casa Hernán, an airy catering facility and brunch spot in his own home.

Another welcome addition to the Southtown scene was the Alamo Street Eat Bar, a food truck park that featured crazy good burgers from Cullum’s Attaboy, the Peacemaker combination of pork belly and fried oysters from Where Y’At and the DUK Truck’s duck confit tacos. Add Zum Sushi, The Institute of Chili, Wheelie Gourmet and a few other visitors, as well as a great beer lineup, and you’ve got some wonderful fresh treats. And what do food trucks provide but small plates, albeit from different plates, giving you the feel of being on a tapas trail?

An “Eat Street” crew films at the Point Park & Eats.

Another food truck park that opened up north in Leon Springs was the Point Park & Eat, which also offers a great beer selection and a wide array of foods from a lineup that has changed in the months that it’s been open. The culinary confections come from trucks such as Skinny Cat, Gourmet on the Fly, Blazin’ Burgers and Say-She-Ate.

Television continued to discover may of these culinary gems. Say-She-Ate was one of four food trucks filmed for the TV series, “Eat Street.” The others include Rickshaw Stop, Tapa Tapa and Society Bakery. Meanwhile, PBS celebrity chef Ming Tsai came to town to film segments of “Simply Ming” with Diana Barrios Treviño from Los Barrios, Elizabeth Johnson of the CIA, John Besh of Lüke (visiting from New Orleans) and Johnny Hernandez at La Gloria.

Sustenio, with Stephan Pyles’ blessing and David Gilbert’s gifts, made people realize the Eilan Hotel Resort and Spa off I-10 was not just a pretty façade. Its menu, with much of the dishes derived from local meats and produce, features an exciting array of ceviches that captured the freshness of the sea and a number of dishes using South Texas Heritage Pork products.

The $13 Burger at Knife & Fork.

The gastropub movement continued with the opening of Knife & Fork in the Stone Oak area. An outgrowth of the Bistro Six food truck, it offered a $13 Burger worth every cent, an extensive cocktail program and a laid-back atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the bistronomy craze — a hybrid of “bistro” and “gastronomy” — could be found in Laurent’s Modern Cuisine on McCullough Avenue. Next door to the still-vibrant and dependable Bistro Vatel, it proved that a segment of San Antonio does love its French food.

For those who enjoy a meal every now and then at home, the number of gourmet groceries grew, thanks to the addition of Trader Joe’s in the Quarry Extension and a second Whole Foods on Blanco Road, north of Loop 1604. The food warehouse Gaucho Gourmet expanded its hours to the public to six days a week, while Groomer’s Seafood reeled in even more seafood lovers, especially when lobsters hit a mouthwatering low of $5.95 apiece.

Classic cocktails have made a comeback.

San Antonio lifted it spirits high during the year. Distilled spirits, that is. Mixed drinks, both shaken and stirred, got a huge boost from the first annual San Antonio Cocktail Conference. But it didn’t stop there. The Blue Box in the Pearl and the downtown Brooklynite joined the likes of Bar 1919 in the Blue Star Complex and the bar at NAO as havens for hand-crafted classic cocktails. A rye sour shaken with traditional egg white, a real martini made with gin and a pisco sour bright with freshly squeezed citrus were all incentives that made exploring these nightspots fun.

Expect beer’s popularity to soar in the new year. Beyond the excellent brews at the Granary, we await Alamo Beer’s ambitious plans for a downtown complex that will feature a restaurant as well as a brewing facility as well as the launch of Branchline Brewery.

What else can we expect? The Pearl will continue to expand with the openings of Jesse Perez’s Arcade Midtown Kitchen and an as-yet-unnamed venture from Steven McHugh as well as the move of Green Vegetarian Cuisine, all of which will add to the draw of the campus. Culinaria has announced plans for a community garden center offering food and agricultural education for the city. Andrew Weissman is taking over the former Liberty Bar site on Josephine Street.

With these strides forward on so many fronts, the city’s culinary scene should continue to offer some enticing new flavors for anyone with a healthy appetite.

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Weissman to Take Over Former Liberty Bar Site


Andrew Weissman is taking over this iconic site.

One of San Antonio’s premier chefs, Andrew Weissman, is buying one of the city’s most iconic buildings, the tilted, weather-beaten beauty on Josephine Street that once housed the Liberty Bar.

Weissman is planning on opening Minnie’s Tavern in the historic building at 328 E. Josephine St. It will open by late January.

The name refers to a member of the Fritz Boehler family, who lived in the building while he worked as brewmaster of the Pearl Brewery. Weissman has discovered a great deal of history about the building and plans on using it within the restaurant.

Minnie’s Tavern will feature brasserie-style food, such as steak frites and mussels, as well as a number of beers and wines on tap. “It will have a limited menu,” says the chef, who owns Il Sogno and the Sandbar, both in the nearby Pearl Brewery complex.

Those who want a cocktail will be able to get one at the Rye House, which Weissman is planning for the small house at the back of the property. The Rye House won’t open at the beginning, but plans are for it to be ready several months down the road.

The current resident of the building, Boehler’s, will stay open until the title is transferred.

Meanwhile, work is progressing on Weissman’s other upcoming project, the Luxury, a food truck park.

He realizes the irony of starting up a new place in a short amount of time while work on a previous project that has taken much longer, but that’s the restaurant business.

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Liberty Bar Finds New Life in Southtown


The new Liberty Bar at 1111 S. Alamo St.

The Liberty Bar didn’t just ditch its original Josephine Street location for Southtown’s funkier charms. It made the move without losing the eclectic charm of the original in terms of food and service. The atmosphere is decidedly different, but what would you expect?

The new location is much more spacious, brighter and, well, more stable. The bathrooms are also much more inviting, especially the men’s room, simply because it is not located off the kitchen. Yet, if all you enjoyed at the old location was the tilt of the floor (and I know many who did), you will be disappointed. Some, too, will take exception to the dull array of carpets that adorn the walls of the rehabilitated cloister, but there’s enough of a Liberty Bar vibe in the room to set most people at ease.

Spread the roasted garlic on one of the cheesy toast triangles.

What makes the whole setup odd for many habitués of the old location is that the bar is now on the second floor in a space that feels, well, a little antiseptic at this point.

The new location needs to be judged on its own merits. So, without trying to make too many comparisons, let’s say that the setting is so different that you can still take out-of-towners wanting to enjoy an independent restaurant is uniquely San Antonian.

That’s what we did on a recent visit. We took a friend visiting for a few days for an early lunch, so early in fact that we preceded the crowds that eventually filtered through the doors. They were a welcome addition, giving the dining room an energy that made all seem right.

We started the meal with two aromatic, yet carb-heavy options, the grilled potato slices with garlic sauce as well as the sweet and creamy roasted head of garlic surrounded by a gargantuan mound of cheesy toast triangles. Old favorites both and both prepared exactly as before. Score one for consistency surviving the move.

The lamb burger is cooked to order.

Our waiter seemed a little stymied when our guest asked his option on several options for a main course, but he led her in the right direction by recommending the homey pot roast that arrived in a meaty broth. Again, carboholics would appreciate the potato and carrots baked in the mix, while beef lovers (and the two are not mutually exclusive) should love the moist, tender chunks of meat. Old-fashioned and perfectly comforting — just what our friend wanted.

I opted for the lamb burger, another old favorite that has its fans. Cooked medium, as ordered, the patty was full-flavored and nicely complemented by Kalamata olives in addition to the usual onion, lettuce and tomato. The kitchen was also nice enough to offer a side salad instead of the advertised potato slices, which would have been way too many after the appetizer.

An order of Puntas Norteñas was more than satisfactory for the third member of our party, though she balked at the hefty, $18 price tag. The meat was beef tenderloin, hence the price. But, the preparation was simply strips of grilled meat with bits of bacon and tomato, and plenty of garlic. Nothing here not to like, but we weren’t sure that this dish, which basically treats tenderloin like taco meat, warranted the price.

Don't miss the lime chess pie.

As good as the pot roast was, dessert was the true highlight of the meal with the lime chess pie drawing high praise all around for the cleansing citrus element in its cream setting. A slice of buttermilk pie, good as it was, just couldn’t compete.

Though our server made a good recommendation on the entrée, he seemed to have some sort of problem when it came to getting drinks and refills and he never seemed to find the right rhythm to make the pace of the meal smooth. (One last comparison: I recall similarly clunky service at the original — and far too many other restaurants in town, regardless of the type of food.)

Liberty Bar is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. As it eases into its new home, signs are promising that it will be with us for another 25.

The Liberty Bar
1111 S. Alamo St.
210-227-1187
Open daily for lunch and dinner
www.liberty-bar.com

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Restaurant Notes and Quotes


It's back to being Boehler's.

New Boehler’s at old Liberty Bar location
We haven’t yet explored the new restaurant at 328 E. Josephine St., inside the building that still leans but no longer houses the Liberty Bar. The business might be new, but the Boehler’s name is straight out of the building’s history, predating even the Liberty Bar. We checked out the menu and noticed the likes of Green Chile Meatloaf, Grilled Chicken Paillard and Pecan-crusted Pork. Sounds promising. The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner.

Remodeling work continues at Rosario's.

Rosario’s new look
The remodeling is still in the works at Rosario’s Café y Cantina on Alamo Street. The new look includes latticed dividers to add a sense of privacy here and there and to (we can hope) help baffle some of the noise. At left is a quick look at what’s happening so far.

Not just another Brazilian steakhouse
Texas de Brazil plans to open on Dec. 28 in the Kress Building at 313 E. Houston St., according to the restaurant’s website.

The restaurant is a churrascaria, the Brazilian-style steakhouse, which is proving to be popular in these carnivorous climes. The difference here is that San Antonio will be home to the state’s first aerial wine artists. If you want to get a sneak peek of an aerialist at work, click here. We predict this will sell plenty of wine to go with all that meat.

Also, check out their Grand Opening special: $74 per couple includes two regular dinners, two desserts, non-alcoholic beverages (ice tea, soda or coffee) and either a bottle of champagne or wine. Tax and gratuity additional. This special is valid from the opening date through  Jan. 31.  Just mention this special offer when making reservation. Not valid with any other offers.

Thanksgiving Eve Dinner and Weekend Brunches at Insignia
If you’re saving your cooking energy for Thursday and want a night out tonight (Thanksgiving Eve), Restaurant Insignia, 410 S. Alamo St. at the Fairmount Hotel is offering a prix fixe dinner for $35 per person. Appetizer is Seasonal Squash Bisque or a Mixed Field Greens “Greek Salad”; the entrée course choices are Pan-roasted Chicken Breast with Barley “Risotto”, Melted Onions, Lardons, and Chicken Sage Jus, Wood Oven Roasted Salmon or Cast Iron Beef Tenderloin, and Root Vegetables two ways. Desserts: Nutella Cake, Banana Brulée, Banana Cream, Peanut Butter Pumpkin Crumb Cake, Candied Walnut Nougat, Salted Caramel “Mousse” or Key Lime Pie Parfait. 210-223-0401. Insignia is also offering brunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

‘Throwdown!’ on the page
Several years ago (though it seems like yesterday), Bobby Flay returned to San Antonio where he challenged Diana Barrios Treviño to see who could make the best puffy tacos.

The scene was La Hacienda de los Barrios, 18747 Redland Road. Barrios Treviño had shown Flay how to make the local favorite the first time he came to town, so it was a classic case of master v. student. The winner? Barrios Treviño, of course.

Flay pays tribute to Barrios Treviño, her mother, the late Viola Barrios, and to the puffy taco in his latest cookbook, “Bobby Flay’s Throwdown!” (Clarkson Potter, $27.50).

Barrios Treviño returns the favor. “What can we say!” the local chef says. “We’re still enjoying the fun that this show brought and also so grateful for the opportunity! We are selling the book at both Los Barrios and La Hacienda. Bobby did a great job talking about our ‘Throwdown!’ and also about his experience with my mom. We could not be happier!”

The new look at the Cove.

Elbow room at The Cove
We enjoyed a lunch of fish and shrimp tacos, salad and a beanburger at The Cove, 606 W. Cypress. Also our first look at the newly remodeled and enlarged space in the ordering area. Now, nobody really wants the Cove to be too spiffed up, as it would stray from it purely funky roots. But more moving-around space has really helped the stand-up-and-order situation. Not that we’re complaining about that — nor did we have any complaints at all about the tasty SOL food (sustainable, organic, local) — the beef in the burgers and the good array of flavors in the tacos and salad dressings remind us why we need to dock more often at the Cove, not just spin around that curve on our way to someplace else.

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‘It’s Never Too Late to Enter a Convent’


You read that right: “It’s never too late to enter a convent.” That’s the tagline for the new Liberty Bar, which has opened in a renovated convent at 1111 S. Alamo St.

The new space is now open seven days a week and features the regular menu that people loved when it was housed on Josephine Street. That includes the desserts.

For more information, visit the restaurant’s website, www.liberty-bar.com.

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Pavil Hosts Dinner for Wounded Warriors


Pavil Restaurant, 1818 N. Loop 1604 W., is hosting a dinner Sunday for 25 wounded members of our armed forces. The special three-course menu that evening includes a choice of soup or salad, roasted chicken or hangar steak, and dessert. For more information, call 210-479-5000 or visit www.brasseriepavil.com.

In other restaurant news, Morton’s the Steakhouse, 849 E. Commerce St., is hosting a “Hoppy Hour” from 6 to 7:30 tonight featuring Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. Sample some beers paired with cheese and Morton’s appetizers. The cost is $45 a person, not including tax or tip. Call 210-228-0700.

Also, Liberty Bar has closed at its original Josephine Street location. According to its website, the restaurant will reopen as Liberty Bar at the Convent at its new location, 1111 S. Alamo St., at 11 a.m. May 26. “We will serve our regular menu at the customary hours,” it reads. “We will be open seven days a week as always.”

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