Random Restaurant Review: Olaroso

23 Jun

San Antonio is a pretty good town for fine dining. Oh, my Manhattan friends will scoff–and it’s true that NYC is an epicurean playground. But you’re more likely pay for a memorable meal than get one.

In San Antonio, there’s plenty of good grub to be had. More important, the places that are truly exceptional stand out. The landscape is scenic, but less crowded. I could wax rhapsodic about longstanding favorites like Biga on the Banks (and maybe sometime I will). Today, I direct your attention to Oloroso.

Oloroso, named for the owner’s favorite Spanish port wine, sits on the fringes of the King William district. We found it thanks to the recommendation of a shopkeeper at San Angel Folk Art, my favorite of the Blue Star Arts Complex’s wonderful galleries. He said, “Go here if you want to get the biggest bang for your buck.” So, G and I went, with my kid sister and her husband in tow.

I’m a sucker for restaurants in restored early 20th century buildings, so the hardwood floors and high ceilings had me going before we even started. Our server brought out beautiful bread and butter…which G and I did not touch, obedient to the restrictions of South Beach Phase 1 (we use this when I’m training for a 5K run). But it smelled fantastic. Cari and Andrew made little moaning noises. We looked on politely and tried to be discrete about the drool with quick napkin work. We all shared the charcuterie plate, which included house cured pancetta, lomo, and (get this) duck prosciutto. I love Duck. I have a relationship with Duck. Eating this was like dating someone for 6 months and then suddenly learning that they once won the Van Cliburn competition…wait, you play piano?

G and I stuck to basically to proteins and greens. Actually, I had the squash soup (creamy, perfectly blended, and well spiced), and the duck confit salad. Duck’s a little fatty for our Dr. Agaston, but a body can be TOO saintly. I had them leave off the potatoes and never missed them. Greg ordered a second charcuterie plate. It was so good, he rode twice. So intently focused was I on the salad that I can’t recall what our companions ordered. And that’s saying something. Salad usually causes me to weep with boredom and frustration. Who can enjoy that much mastication? We kept it economical with the wine, an inexpensive Chateau Famaey Malbec. Nobody was disappointed.

It is a testament to the overall quality of Oloroso that G and I watched the desserts, oysters, and grains passing by without feeling deprived. Chef Cross pays attention to the right things–freshness of ingredients, balance in the elements on every plate, delivering big on simple promises on the menu. Prices reflect that it is fine dining: no $5.99 recession meals here. But we got tremendous value for the expense, and walked out with a sense that the memorable experience absolutely justified the check. Shouldn’t that be the aim of any evening on the town? You go out to find something you can’t get at home, and to share it with good company.

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