Wednesday, June 22, 2011

San Antonio, TX - Liberty Bar; Walk, drive, bike, carpool, hitchhike, crawl, or however you want to get here. I'm not sure about anything on the menu except one dish that you have to try, the Goat Cheese with piloncillo & chile morita sauce. You will want to order this appetizer, maybe for the whole table, or maybe just for you. Just be prepared to place another one to-go for when you're ready to leave. This dish is a home run, wait, it's a grand slam, the ball may even sore into the parking lot. Like I said, I can't speak for any other dish, I literally just ordered this, ate it all, then ordered another to go for my wife to try (but really just so I could eat it again later).

If you ask, they'll give you the ingredients for it, not that I could every duplicate it. It's served with some basic but nice toast, lightly buttered, but really waiting for a huge schmear of the cheese. I do feel bad for the toast since it has to share the plate with the cheese. It has to follow up after an amazing act. The cheese is served warm, and so smooth. It has a smokiness to the flavor, carries just enough sweetness, with just a little bit of heat at the end. It has a chipotle tangy and spiciness with this wonderful creaminess of the goat cheese mixed with heavy cream.

If I had the money, I would fly to San Antonio, just for this. The city couldn't keep my interest, but I would go back for this, hands down.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

San Antonio, TX - Biga on the Banks; I believe to receive five stars you have to have, outstanding food and excellent customer service. That's it. If you get these perfect, then five are easy to achieve.

We truly had a wonderful experience here and they deserve every earned star. I made reservations a week in advance and inquired about their vegetarian options for my wife. The lady on the phone indicated that the menu changes each night based on what the executive chef has available for local fresh fare. However, she also included that when we arrive, mention it to your server and they will make anything you want to her liking. Wow, ok, that sounds like good customer service. We arrive for our evening out, seated at our table (a wonderful table along the glass over looking the river), and our server comes over and immediately says to my wife, "I understand you're a vegetarian, please allow me to show and describe our vegetarian options. If any of these don't sound attractive, please describe what you're interested in and I'll speak to the executive chef." My wife and I both paused and were in shock. This means the woman I spoke to regarding the reservation, noted she was a vegetarian and spoke to our server for us. I feel like I'm in the home-run derby right now. We don't even have our food and we're blown away.

I started with the wild mushroom truffle soup. I am a sucker for mushroom soup. What adds an element of elegance and sophistication is that it's assembled at table-side. The bowl came with the mushrooms and truffle oil in the center of the bowl, but the creamy soup wasn't too be found. After the plate was set down, then the server poured the soup on top of it. I was absolutely ready to dig into it. Of course it was delicious. It maintained that wild mushroom flavor, still a little rustic, but the truffle oil blended the creaminess of the soup with the rustic of the mushrooms.

I chose the venison and quail, and she ordered the roasted beat dish. I was so impressed with the complexity and caliber of both dishes favors. They were very well developed, harmonious, and complimentary in flavor and texture. The venison was perfectly cooked medium-rare. The quail was so delicate and had just enough charred flavor on the skin. It also came with a wonderful reduction sauce to compliment both meats very well. The surprise of the dish was the pureed potatoes and the sauteed brussels sprouts. Initially I tried the puree and it had flavor, but needed a bit of salt, however, then I tried the sprouts and they had the salt the puree was lacking. Putting them together was a perfect symphony. The crunchy and saltiness of the sprouts were perfect for the soft and smooth puree. Bravo!

My wife absolutely loved her beat dish, which came along with some kind of wonder cheesy grits-like puree underneath the vegetables. I have to admit, this may have been the only time I've seen her eat the entire vegetable dish. It also had asparagus that were so interesting. The only way I could describe it was that it seems as though it had been cooked in liquid nitrogen because it was fully cooked, but somehow it maintained this crystallized crunchiness to it. Bravo!

Of course the desert was a perfect way to end the meal.

Compliments to the host, server, and chefs!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

San Antonio, TX - Boardwalk Bistro; The description of two stars fits perfectly, "I've experienced better." It's perfect. I selected this place because it stood out as a place for vegetarians. Well, I guess they have vegetarian options, but the real question is, are they delicious vegetarian options? My vote goes for eeeehhhh.

The description of their Grilled Tofu Salad sounded much better than it looked or tasted. It's description is: "A large Caesar platter topped with artichoke heart, fresh grated parmesan cheese, roma tomato and strips of grilled tofu". It would have been much better if they did something with the tofu. I don't even know if it was grilled or not. It didn't taste like it. It looked and tasted as though I opened the package of tofu, heated it up and put it on top of the salad. It didn't have any grill charred marks, nor any seasonings to give it flavor.

My wife had the pita works, grilled vegetables on a pita with a side of tabbouleh. The vegetables were ok, but the tabbouleh, huge miss. You can't cut up parsley and call it tabbouleh. It still has to be prepared correctly and once again, the flavor just wasn't there.

BB would receive one star, but I gave it two because at least they do have multiple vegetarian options. Many places have one or two options on the menu, and at least here they had almost a dozen.

I also didn't really care for the inside decor much. It felt like an trip into Threes Company at the Regale Beagle. Kind of funny at the same time.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

San Antonio, TX - Rasario's Mexican Cafe Y Cantina; I'm an adventurous eater and always looking for interesting places, but also interesting dishes that are not common. Rosario's accomplished this by offering some traditional Mexican ingredients not found frequently on menus.

The three items on the menu that were calling my name were tongue, tripe, and sweet bread. I've had tongue and tripe lots of times, prepared all different ways, but the sweet bread? First, if it's called sweet bread, you know it really has to be something else and they're afraid of disgusting people out. You certainly have my interest. It turns out, sweet bread can be used for several different organ meats, but in this case, it was thymus. I've never had the opportunity and I can't let this pass me by.

It is breaded and deep fried, similar to country fried steak. Eating it alone, it does have a gamey flavor, which may put some people off. I didn't mind it at all, but if you eat it with some of the rice or beans together, it really complements each other and the flavors work very well. It is very tender and cooked very well. I would certainly get it again without any hesitation.

Also to note, they specifically have a section for vegetarian fare. It has traditional dishes, but also unique entrees that vegetarians will find very interesting.

The place is nice in decor, clean, a large dining area with lots of tables with little wait time.

San Antonio, TX - Guenther House Restaurant; There is a reason when you go to the Guenther House to get there before 9am, there's an hour wait. All the yelpers say to go before 9, and even during the week, it was still an hour wait.

If you decide to wait, go into their cafe to get a coffee and danish. They offer multiple flavor danishes, which are perfect for that hour wait while you sit outside on their quaint tables and grounds. When you're seated, you can choose to sit inside or outside in their covered tent. Outside was so pleasant.

We started with the black cherry strudel. I'm not sure if they make these inhouse, but whom ever made it, it made two very waiting hungry people happy until the table was ready. I moved onto another wonderful carb filled breakfast, one of their specials, almond pancakes. They were wonderfully sized, browned well, and cake with a delightful surprise of thinly sliced almonds cooked in the batter as well as in between each pancake within the stack. The almonds gave it a nice addition to the texture of the syrup soaked pancakes.

They also offer freshly squeezed orange juice that comes with delicious pulp floating in it. Enjoy!