Well Dined

28Mar/140

Pearl Brewery, San Antonio TX

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Photo credit: Nick Simonite

San Antonio has become a really hip place since I moved away, and that is due in large part to the Pearl Brewery area.  The original brewery was opened in 1881 and ran until 1985 when Pabst Blue Ribbon took over, and then shut down in 2001.  The land was purchased and slowly developed into a shopping area, which is now booming.  With a weekly farmers market, boutique shops, new apartments, and amazing restaurants - this is now the place to be.  It reminds me a lot of Mosaic District, actually.  They even built a new section of Riverwalk nearby!

Anyway, when I came to visit - all the places my family wanted to take me to ended up being at Pearl, so I have lots of reviews for you!

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The night I flew in, my family took me to Cured, located in the historic administration building of the brewery.  As you can guess from the name, cured meats are a large focus of the menu, but they also have cooked main dishes under the categories vegetable, seafood, fowl, pork, beef, and goat or lamb.  My dad ordered a selection of cured meats for us, and they were delish - especially the country style pate and lamb/citrus terrine.  I also had the pork cheeks poutine, which was AWESOME.  The pickled cauliflower they put in there is totally unexpected and is what makes the dish, I think.  For dessert I had a beet twinkie with meyer lemon curd - yum.  The drink menu includes cane sugar sodas from much-beloved Dublin, TX; craft cocktails; and a killer beer list.  My brother is going to have to get on here and tell me what local beer I had, because it was fantastic.

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The next night, we went to The Granary - a modern BBQ joint located in the original brewmaster's house.  I have never seen a concept like this before - super modern, artistic BBQ - very cool.  Apparently my father comes here for lunch at least once a week, because the waiter greeted him by his nickname and knew his favorite dishes.  We thought that was pretty funny.

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Grit fritters with red eye mayonnaise and country ham "salt".  Yum - these are pretty addictive!  I'm assuming from the quotation marks that dried ham is used as salt.

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Smoke braised lamb neck tortellini in consomme - also very good.

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Rootbeer scallops with radish, parsnip, and rootbeer crunch.  This was very interesting and different - not a pairing that I would have thought of.  The scallops were well cooked and the rootbeer crunch was fun.

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Smoke braised pork shank with lentils, preserved lemon, apricot, and chicharron - well cooked, tender, and flavorful.

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Beef clod with quinoa crunch, pickled celery, and "cornbread".  This is my family's favorite, at least one of them always orders it.

Not pictured - the traditional style BBQ board, the grilled NY strip with BBQ butter, and the brisket ramen.  The ramen was actually my entree, so it's particularly embarrassing that I didn't snap a pic (but in my defense, we were losing light).  It comes with brisket, smoked shoyu broth, brown ale noodles, collard greens, barbequed shallots, and an egg - smokey, comforting, and delicious.  I could just dive in there and swim around.

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Buttermilk Chess Pie with Chantilly Cream (told you we were losing light) - one of my favorite types of pie, yum.

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Smoked chocolate ganache with pecan "glass" and brown butter ice cream.  I actually didn't try this one, but it looks good!

Not pictured - beer and pretzel ice cream sundae.

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Saturday morning was the farmer's market, so we wandered around that for a bit before heading to brunch.

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For brunch, we went to the Boiler House - a Texas ranch style restaurant that used to be the, you guessed it, boiler house.

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We sat outside at these picnic style tables and enjoyed the beautiful weather.

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There was the Cowboy Up Grilled Cheese Benny - a "triple decker" grilled cheese sandwich with brie, provolone, tomato, bacon, poached eggs, and poblano queso.

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And the Green-Chili Pulled Pork with popcorn grits, poached eggs, poblano hollandaise, and pickled red onions.

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BBQ Quail Flatbread from the lunch menu.

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And the Giant Tamal with scrambled eggs, chicharones, pork belly, chorizo, provolone, and ham hocks; topped with shredded pork, charred tomatillo salsa, and queso poblano.  That's a whole lot going on.

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Lastly, my dish - the BLT Mac & Egg. Mac and Cheese with bacon, tomatoes, spinach, and white truffle mozzarella fondue; topped with poached eggs and hollandaise.  OMG, yum.

We did not order the "David Lee Roth" Krispy Kreme Burger - that would be a burger on a donut bun with caramelized onion, smoked bacon, American cheese, fried egg, warm maple syrup, and powdered sugar.  I have heard that it is epic.

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NAO at the Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio

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The last place we ate was Nao - a Latin American restaurant owned an operated by the Culinary Institute of America (also located in Pearl).  The restaurant has a professional Executive Chef (Geronimo Lopez-Monascal) and Beverage Manager (Tim Bryand) and a few professional servers.  All the other positions are filled by senior students from CIA who rotate through kitchen and front of house to experience every aspect of working in a restaurant.  It's a pretty dang smart concept!  Our server was a student and she did a wonderful job (and was totally willing to answer my billion questions about the program).

We ordered pretty much everything on the menu, so I won't bore you with details, but everything was good.  Not "good for a student cook", but actually restaurant level good.  Standouts were the chicken mole, swordfish, and steak with chimichurri.  The drink menu at this place is outstanding - modern drinks, grouped by category, using quality ingredients.  Definitely check it out.  They also own a taco stand that operates on Saturdays during the farmer's market.  They had what looked like a whole goat roasting on a spit when I was there.  I didn't get to try it (because we were about to eat brunch), but it smelled amazing.

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Photo credit: Nick Simonite

That's it for my trip!  There are so many cool places and things going on in this area, I definitely recommend checking it out the next time you are in San Antonio.  And if you live in good old SATX already and haven't been, what are you doing?!  Get your butt down there!

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