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Popular Stella Public House Opens for Lunch


Stella Wild Mushroom Pizza

Stella Wild Mushroom Pizza

Stella Public House, the farm-to-pizza restaurant and craft beer taproom in Southtown at the Blue Star Arts Complex, is now open for lunch service. Stella opened earlier this year and has pleased its patrons with artisan wood-fired pizza and locally-sourced, seasonal menu items.

The foundation of Stella’s wood-fired pizzas is a Neapolitan-inspired crust with a firm blistered edge and chewy interior.  Locally sourced, organic mozzeralla cheese, made in house, adds to the robust flavor of the restaurant’s unique pizzas. Salads are also available, including the Panzanella Salad, with crunchy pieces of the restaurant’s wood-oven bread tossed with tomatoes, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, mozzarella, garden herbs and Texas olive oil.

“Opening for lunch was a decision driven by our guests who have created a demand for quality, locally-sourced lunch options. We listened to their feedback and are very excited to expand our hours and offer the opportunity for a delicious, affordable lunch in Southtown.” Lacey Aleman, general manager and operating partner

Stella Public House Panzanella Salad

Stella Public House Panzanella Salad

Stella, at 1414 S. Alamo St., opens daily at 11 a.m. and stays open through the dinner service. Stella delivers a balanced combination of rustic charm and urban sensibility in a warm, inviting space. With daily specials and a choice of indoor or outdoor seating, a midday meal at Stella Public House “provides a great alternative to working through lunch at the office,” says a company spokesman.

Chef Rolando Aguirre’s menu features the best available ingredients from the area’s farms and offers options that are made from organic, local meat and produce. Their wines and craft beers are a nice bonus.

 

Stella logo

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You’ll Want to Take a Bite Out of Two New Restaurants


Pork belly in a white chocolate mole at The Fruteria.

In the Basque region, tapas reign among those who want to spend an evening out, grabbing a small bite or two while bar hopping.

It’s not a dining format that has translated successfully to San Antonio. As I’ve said before, this city, by and large, has never been fond of the small plates concept. Legions of germaphobes find the idea of sharing food repulsive, while others just think the kitchen is trying to gyp their customers by not filling their plates with proper portions. Plus, too many people just don’t want to eat what everybody else does.

I don’t fall into any of those categories. I love the excitement that comes from taking a bite of one dish and then sampling another, tasting what friends have ordered and what arrives next. So, imagine my delight when I found myself jumping from one small plate restaurant in the Southtown area to another recently. My evening started at Johnny Hernandez’s new The Frutería, 1401 S. Flores St., and ended at Bite, Lisa Astorga-Watel’s haven for small plates at 1012 S. Presa St.

The Fruteria’s Seis Chiles Margarita

Beneath The Frutería’s name on the sign outside the door, the restaurant is billed as a “botanero,” meaning it specializes in botanas, or snacks. Also known as small plates. So, don’t expect one of the five chiles rellenos to be some overstuffed monster on a platter with rice, beans and shredded lettuce on the side. The slightly misnamed Chiles Anchos con Pollo was actually only one chile, a beautiful burnt-red rehydrated pepper that had been stuffed with lightly spicy shredded chicken tinga and topped with a hearty tomato sauce and a dramatic drizzle of crema.

It disappeared in just four or five bites, but I enjoyed each as I alternated it with a taste of Pulpo a la Plancha (a cold grilled octopus salad) or Puerco en Mole Blanco, slabs of crispy pork belly in a silky white chocolate mole with slivered almonds and a dramatic slice of fried plantain twirling up as a garnish. Other temptations from the dinner menu include carne asada, grilled sirloin in a guajillo sauce; camarones con fruitas, shrimp with a medley of mango, pineapple and orange as well as jícama; and huitlacoche con rajas, corn truffles or fungus with roasted poblanos.

Grilled octopus at the Fruteria.

Given the name of the place, I had to try the fruit cup for dessert and was rewarded with a large bowl of freshly diced apple, pineapple and strawberries with blueberries and more in one refreshing serving that was made even more mouthwatering with a touch of Lucas, chile and lime.

The Frutería takes that fruit and carries it over into its cocktail program, matching tequilas and juices in a rainbow of colors. Since I’m no fan of sweet cocktails, I asked my server for a suggestion. He recommended the Seis Chiles Margarita, said to have everything from habanero to ghost pepper in the mix. What arrived was beautiful, with a slice of red pepper floating atop the drink — and the first taste certainly showcased the intense flavors of the peppers and their innate fruitiness, but without the heat. But by the second sip, a candied quality swamped all other flavors, and I quickly lost a desire to finish it.

Bite at night.

The interior was still being worked on while I was there, but Hernandez has done a beautiful job of capturing color and an elegant sense of Mexico without the decor echoing the serape-and-sombrero look of the old school taquerias in town. Everything from the open kitchen to the bustling tables suggested that The Frutería will be a vibrant addition to the ongoing renovation of that block of Flores Street.

I moved on to the jewel box that is Bite, a dining space so cozy that small plates seem a natural. The pleasant interior design is a major improvement over the sparse sandwich shops that have come and gone in the space, which bookends a plaza with Torres Taco Haven. And the pop art canvas of a woman declaring in a cartoon bubble, “Oh my God Darling!! Southtown is so cool!!” gives the right sense of playfulness to set you at ease.

Most everything offered called my name, whether it was the cioppino or the carbonara on the specials board or escargots from the menu.

While sipping a glass of sparkling Spanish rosé, I settled on a dish from the Basque country, Boquerones Basquaise, an enticing array of tangy, white anchovies fanning out from a mound of a ratatouille-like salad of eggplant and tomato. Though the dish practically screams summer freshness, it displayed a vitality that made it refreshing, even on a cold, windy night.

It was followed by an off-the-menu special, veal-stuffed mushrooms with a touch of cheese on top. The mushrooms that provided a sturdy base for the delicately seasoned meat were king trumpets, and texturally, they resembled the octopus earlier at the Frutería. The heat of the dish just caused everything to melt together into a few exquisite tastes. The size of the serving was also fairly generous.

I would have preferred to have both dishes served at the same time to allow a little grazing, but it was not to be. Perhaps such kinks will get ironed out in the near future. I’d also like to suggest new seats at the bar. The stools are, to put it mildly, uncomfortable. Worse still, they made me feel off-balance, which is a sensation that I’d prefer to let my cocktails provide.

Veal-stuffed mushrooms at Bite.

Then the owner came in, a move that was welcomed by her regulars and Astorga-Watel did make the rounds to greet everyone there, which is a nice touch. Unfortunately, she was wearing a perfume that was a little too strong for so small a place.  Though she was standing across the restaurant, her scent obliterated the aroma of the wine in my glass — and it was Torrontés, a dry Argentine wine with one of the most floral and expressive bouquets in the wine world. Within moments, her perfume literally took my breath away and sent me out of the restaurant gasping for air. (A word to restaurateurs of all stripes: Leave the heavy colognes at home, unless you’re using it to mask any flaws your food and wine may have.)

A final word: Dining on a few small plates can add up. The stuffed mushrooms at Bite, for example, were priced at $18. Nothing at The Frutería was quite as expensive — most of the prices run in the $5.50-$8.50 range — but, with the exception of the fruit cup, nothing was that substantial, either. Add a drink or two, though, and your bill could be higher than you might have realized.

The Frutería
1401 S. Flores St.
(210) 251-3104
Lunch/dinner: Tuesday-Saturday. Brunch: Sunday
www.thefruteria.com

Bite
1012 S. Presa St.
(210) 532-2551
Lunch: Thursday-Saturday; Dinner: Wednesday-Saturday
www.biterestaurantsa.com

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San Antonio’s Dining Scene Is Getting Tastier


A view of the wine bar at Bliss, which opens Thursday.

Expect some savory new sensations in the near future, as San Antonio’s dining scene greets to two high-profile new restaurants on opposite ends of town.

Stephan Pyles is opening Sustenio on La Cantera Parkway.

On the northwest side, near Fiesta Texas, celebrity chef Stephan Pyles has opened Sustenio at the new Éilan Hotel Resort & Spa. Meanwhile, local favorite Mark Bliss, formerly of Silo, is putting the finishing touches on his new restaurant, Bliss, which is in Southtown.

Mark Bliss

At Sustenio, you can expect to find upscale Texas-style comfort food, ranging from crisp pork belly with vanilla-scented grits to Texas venison lion with yucca-huitlacoche hash.

At Bliss, the emphasis is on the chef’s selection of the finest and freshest ingredients, which he plans to present in simple yet artful layerings that show off the depth of flavors of each. Seasonal changes will apply, but expect dishes such as a lobster roll, duck and

For views of both restaurants, click on the stories below:

 

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Feast is Open; Bill Miller Opens Second Laguna Madre Seafood Company


Feast is now serving dinner

Feast, in Southtown, is now open at 1024 S. Alamo. The restaurant, which is in the location where the former Oloroso was, opened Tuesday evening for dinner, said an employee who answered the telephone Wednesday. Feast is open Tuesday through Thursday, 5- 10 p.m. and from 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Feast is owned by Andrew Goodman. The phone number is 210-354-1024.

Laguna Madre Seafood Company opens on S.W. Military Dr.

A second location of Laguna Madre Seafood Company, owned by Bill Miller Bar-B-Q, is now open at 402 S.W. Military Dr., according to company spokesperson. The first location opened last year at 5123 Rigsby Ave.

The menu is largely fried fish, including catfish and cod, shrimp and combo plates, as well as gumbo,salads, hush puppies, creamy coleslaw, fish and shrimp Veracruz style and chicken Veracruz style. Dessert is cookies or pie —pecan, Dutch apple or lemon meringue. Family meals are available, as are Bill Miller’s famous buckets of iced tea. Most of the dishes are under $10.

Trader Joe’s: Yes? No?

Rumors still flying: Now, we hear that they may be  locating in  Quarry Village later this year. We’ll be checking up on that.

In the meantime, here’s a fun link on the good, the bad and the whatever — at Trader Joe’s.

 

 

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‘Feast’ Moving into Former Oloroso Location


The Oloroso sign is still up at 1024 S. Alamo St., but that will change before long.  The restaurant, formerly owned by chef Josh Cross, closed in November last year. Now, says businessman Andrew Goodman, his restaurant, Feast, is scheduled to open there in late September.

Andrew Goodman working on interior at Feast, a new restaurant in Southtown.

“It isn’t going to look at all like Oloroso,” said Goodman on Tuesday. He was working on the plastic protected floor in the front dining room, laying down tape so that he could paint baseboards.  The look, he says, will be “very crisp and clean” with white walls, dark wood floors, ball chandeliers over each table and “ghost” (transparent) chairs.

“We want the (atmosphere) to be cool and classic, but with great energy, a little sexy,” says Goodman.

He’s currently working on a menu with his chef, Stefan Bowers, who will be working at Feast beginning the first of September. Bowers is currently at 20 Nine Restaurant & Wine Bar at the Quarry.

The menu will offer a combination of appetizers, entrees as well as smaller plates with more generous proportions than one ordinarily associates with “small plates.”  Goodman describes the menu as being “flexible” — for instance if someone wants to try three of the salads, they can get smaller portions of all three on one plate. The food, at this point, is planned to be “New American with Mediterranean flair.”

He and Bowers will be doing a lot of tasting of food and wine pairings as they develop the menu and wine list, says Goodman. “We want the food and wine to work together well.”

Feast will be open only for dinner for a time after it opens, and will have a full bar, says Goodman. Goodman has had other businesses in San Antonio, including an antique store, Eden, but this is his first restaurant venture.

Main dining room of the former Oloroso.

 

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Mark Bliss to Open ‘Bliss’ in Southtown in November


Chef Mark Bliss, who opened the original Silo Elevated Cuisine on Austin Highway, has returned to San Antonio and will open a new restaurant at 926 South Presa Street. He hopes to have the restaurant, located in an old Magnolia filling station, by November.  Construction began two weeks ago, he said.

Construction begins at the site for Bliss, Mark Bliss's restaurant in Southtown.

He and his wife, Lisa, announced that the restaurant will be a “small, intimate space with private dining, a chef’s table in the kitchen, with outdoor seating as well as indoor.

“My focus is going to be on American Contemporary cuisine with an emphasis that diners will have the ability to create a multi-course experience based on their appetite and desires. Overall, we’ll have a small seasonal menu that will change frequently. Our goal is to serve a quality product with a well-trained staff in a comfortable, elegant environment,” said Bliss.

Bliss left the restaurant business here at the first of last year to tend to family business. He spent a total of 13 years at Silo, on Austin Highway, with a two-and-a-half year break. Prior to that he worked as chef, with Bruce Auden, at the original location of Biga on Locust Street.

 

Photograph by Bonnie Walker

 

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Oloroso to Close Nov. 13


Olorosa in Southtown has changed its menu for fall.

Oloros0, 1024 S. Alamo St., will close on Saturday, Nov. 13.

“Sadly, we are closing,” owner Josh Cross says. “The finances simply ran out.”

Those who want to have one more visit can still sample Cross’ new fall menu,which includes Seared Scallops with Butternut Purée; Grilled Hangar Steak with Braised Oxtail; Roasted Rack of Lamb with Pumpkin Purée; and Roasted Duck Breast with braised kale, roasted whild mushrooms and bacon lardons. There’s also a house-made fresh pasta with seasonal vegetables.

A three-course prix-fixe is available daily until 7 p.m. It begins with a choice of soup or salad, followed by a choice of the fish of the day, roasted chicken or grilled hangar steak. Dessert is a choice of ginger and cardamom crème brûlée or chocolate pots du crème. The cost is $35 a person.

For reservations or more information, call 210-223-3600 or click here.

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It’s Truffle Time at Oloroso


It’s truffle season, time once again for the rare and aromatic fungi from Europe to make their way back on to area menus.

At Oloroso, 1024 S. Alamo St., chef Josh Cross has developed several new dishes using both black and white truffles.

The black Burgundy Truffles are featured in a dish of toasted spaetzle, truffle cream, and barley poached Malpeque oysters before being finished with slices of fresh Burgundy truffle.

White Alba truffles from Italy are being used in a variation of the most traditional truffle dish: truffle risotto. Yet, in this version, Yukon gold potatoes are used and the dish is crowed with the white Albas.

Not content to stop there, Cross features Burgundy truffles on duck confit salad and grilled hangar steak.

Oloroso , which specializes in Mediterranean-inspired food, is now open Monday-Friday for lunch and Tuesday-Saturday for dinner. Call (210) 223-3600 or click here.

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Daily Dish: Oloroso to Open for Lunch


The main dining room at Oloroso looks out on South Alamo Street.

The main dining room at Oloroso looks out on South Alamo Street.

Oloroso, the Southtown haven for Mediterranean fare, will soon be open for lunch.

Chef and co-owner Josh Cross says lunch service will begin on Sept. 7. Lunch hours will be 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday, while dinner service continues Tuesday-Saturday.

The restaurant at 1024 S. Alamo St. is also open until 2 a.m. on first Fridays and will stay open later in the evening on other nights if customers want it.

Call (210) 223-3600 or click here for more information.

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