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Hot Fritters, Cool Brews & More: Granary’s New Bar Hours, Menu


A Granary flight

A Granary flight

The Granary ‘Cue & Brew will now open at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays for bar service, with a small menu featuring new dishes from Chef Tim Rattray.

The tasty menu will feature items such as pork rinds, grit fritters with red eye mayo and country ham, Texas toast and ‘cue butter, and cheese boards. There’s also the daily barbecued meat plus the Granary’s sumptuous Buttermilk Chess Pie.

The Granary Cue & Brew is at 602 Avenue A. The restaurant/brewery showcases a menu of traditional central Texas barbecue, plus a variety of barbecue traditions and flavors from around the world.

Its popular craft beer is brewed on-site and a selection of highlights from craft breweries around the state. The restaurant is owned by brothers Tim Rattray, head chef, and Alex Rattray, master brewer.

For additional information, please visit thegranary.com or call 210-228-0124.

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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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Beer Is So Versatile, It’s ‘Easy to Find a Great Match for Any Meal,’ Says Granary’s Brewmaster


For Granary brewmaster Alex Rattray (right), it’s all about the beer.

The Granary ‘Cue and Brew opened this week, bringing the art of beer making  back to the Pearl Brewery. Visitors can sample several treats from owner and brewmaster Alex Rattray, who has come up with a series sure to please any taste.

The Blonde is light with a touch of hoppy flowers. The Rye Saison adds citrus notes to a beer marked by a rye so pronounced and alluring that you’ll think of it as liquid bread. The India Pale Ale is all beautiful beer bitterness with an engaging hoppy floral bouquet. The Brown Ale unfortunately wasn’t ready when I stopped in on opening night, but it should be soon.

I asked Rattray what beers he likes to serve with Thanksgiving dinner. His first choice would be his Rye Saisonal, which would certainly add an extra dimension of richness to the meal. But since you can’t get the Granary’s beers to go, he suggested looking for a Belgian saisonal, such as Saison Dupont. “I think the dry qualities of the beer and the spicy nose would really complement turkey, pumpkin, stuffing, etc.,” he said.

Rattray also talked about his plans for the Granary’s future as well as offering a few tips for home brewers.

Try four beers in a flight.

Q: What is one misconception that people have about beer that you like to clear up?

A: I think a lot of people still think that beer is not sophisticated or they never think to pair beer with meals. In my opinion, beer can be every bit as sophisticated as wine, but it has a lot more to offer when pairing with food. The vast array of beer styles and the different flavor profiles they offer are quite staggering, and it makes it very easy to find a great match for any meal. Beer is much more forgiving then wine when it comes to food too so you can really have fun pairing different flavors. There aren’t many rules either, so I think beer and food pairings are much more approachable for people to do on their own. Wine pairing can seem intimidating for people that are just getting into it.

Q: What got you interested in brewing your own beers?

A: After a study abroad trip to London and a visit to the Guinness Brewery in Dublin, Ireland, I really started getting into craft beer. I was in a store one day and saw a cheap home brewing kit and thought it’d be fun to try my hand at it. I grew up with my mom cooking daily meals for us from scratch, and my siblings and I learned to cook and bake from an early age. So, I guess we all have that extra desire to make the things that we enjoy. So, I asked for the home brew kit for my birthday, and my brother Tim (my current business partner and chef) purchased the kit for me. I was hooked from the first batch I made.

Q: What advice do you have for home brewers?

A: Keep it simple, especially at first. I think a lot of home brewers try to do too much and add crazy ingredients to their beers. Now that’s half the fun of home brewing, but especially for beginners, I think simplicity is the key. More does not usually mean better. Some of my favorite beers are very simple. Subtlety is important.

Q: What plans do you have for the beer program at the Granary?

A. Obviously we brew our own beer, and that is an integral part of our program. We plan to star brewing our own seasonal beers soon, which will give us a chance to use local fruits, etc. We’re also going to be serving some of our beers on cask. For guest taps, we really want to showcase Texas breweries. Currently we’re the first and only place in San Antonio where you can get a beer from Rogness Brewing. They are from Austin, and their stuff is great. We also plan to start tapping a special cask once a month or so from a local brewery and serve it right on the counter top through a gravity tap. Not only is the beer awesome that way, but it makes for a really cool presentation and fun experience for guests that haven’t had a beer pulled straight from a cask. We’re also brewing our own root beer from scratch and plan to introduce some seasonal house-made sodas as well.

The Granary ‘Cue and Brew is at 602 Avenue A. At this point, it is open 6-10 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday and 6-11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Call (210) 228-0124 or click here for details.

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The Granary, Boiler House Texas Grill Open at the Pearl


The taps are flowing at the Granary.

Two days, two new restaurants in the lineup at the Pearl Brewery.

That’s all it took.

A Granary flight

The Granary ‘Cue and Brew opened Tuesday at 604 Avenue A in an area that is still a bit under construction. But who cares what the drive is like when the beer’s fine? And the Granary, under the attention of brewmaster Alex Rattray, has some fine initial offerings on tap including the in-house Blonde, Rye Saison (which will make you yearn for a Reuben), and India Pale Ale, with a Brown Ale due any day now.

Other local taps include Live Oak’s Pils and Hefeweizen, Ranger Creek’s Lucky ‘Ol Sun, and Rogness Rattler Pale Ale and Beardy Garde. Ask what’s available on cask or try a flight in order to sample the house offerings.

A view of the Granary kitchen.

There’s ‘cue to go with the brew, and the Granary menu includes a rasher of interesting apps: Texas Toast with barbecue butter, Grit Fritters with country ham “salt” and red-eye mayonnaise, Smoked Tofu with curried pumpkin, and Smoked Beef Tongue with a caper-raisin vinaigrette.

Main course offerings include Pork Belly with a salsa negra and masa spoon bread, Szechuan Duck Leg with a poached egg, Beef Clod (the shoulder) with coffee quinoa crunch, Moroccan Lamb Shoulder with cous cous; and Jerk Chicken with red beans. And there’s Old School ‘Cue, served family style, while supplies last.

Texas cheeses, buttermilk chess pie, and Chocolate Blackout Cake are among the desserts, though the Soft Serve Twist with beer and pretzels flavor sounds the most intriguing.

The restaurant is situated in the former cooper’s house for the former Pearl Brewery and features some intriguing features, from the obviously antique glass windows to a board near the entrance to the restrooms that proudly declares “There’s a reason.” For what? You figure it out. Another beer can help such heady contemplation.

For more on the Granary ‘Cue and Brew, click here.

Nearby, at 312 Pearl Parkway, the Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden opens today with chef James Moore in the kitchen overseeing the flame-cooked meals and vegetables.

Lamb polpettes

The restaurant, from the owners of Max’s Wine Dive, is indeed in the brewery’s old boiler house, which makes for a rustic, eclectic setting that’s comfortable, whether you’re seated at the bar so you can watch the kitchen staff at work or outside at one of the picnic tables.

Pork belly with soy-pineapple glaze.

Moore has said that Texas flavors, made with the best Texas ingredients, would be the focus on his menu.”When we began talking about Boiler House, we knew we wanted to honor the history at Pearl and the unique aspect of the building,” he said. “We started with the concept of grilling, something that plays a huge role in Texas cuisine. Pair that with flavors that reflect Texas and the concept just grew.”

Items that are attracting attention include starters of grilled breads with bone marrow, shrimp bacon brochettes, lamb polpettes (or meatballs), and tender Texas quail. Entrees include antelope, steaks, seafood and pork belly, the latter was served with a soy-pineapple glaze at a preview, but signs show that the sauces may change. There will be vegetarian options, too.

Texas quail at Boiler House.

There are also plenty of wines and a selection of Texas beers, from Ranger Creek Mission Trail Ale to South Austin Brewery Belgian Saison, to slake your thirst. Plus, the wines are also available to go, if you sample something that really speaks to you.

Desserts include Texas Pear Crumble as well as a big old brownie with a bourbon bacon anglaise that will thrill any dark chocolate fan.

For more information on Boiler House, click here.

Though both restaurants are open to the public, their hours or dining space are limited at the moment. Lunch at the Granary won’t start this week, for example, while live music at the Boiler House will come in the future.

The Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden opens Friday.

 

 

 

 

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