So, of the restaurants we went to in San Antonio, I was sort of disappointed by 2 out of 3 of them. This was the big winner, courtesy of UrbanSpoon.
Citrus is housed inside an incredibly chic hotel (Hotel Valencia) on the Riverwalk. It’s not as obvious as some of the other cafes– you have to look for it. We actually came to it from behind– from the streets above. When you walk in, you can see a whole case of glass oranges (Citrus? Valencia? Get it? Yeah.) autographed by famous people who’ve eaten at the restaurant– mostly sports stars, but the entire American Idol team was represented (and Paula Abdul’s made no sense, of course), which (a quick Google search revealed) was due to SA hosting an Idol search. Huh. Who knew?
The restaurant was incredibly dark– I’m surprised the pictures I got are as good as they turned out to be– but in a very romantic way. There were a couple of snuggling couples on banquettes nearby, and the tone of the restaurant was very seductive and secretive. I loved the mood set by the lighting and furniture– modern, yet cozy.
(For some great photos, check out their website. There’s a better picture of the crab cake and duck I had, too.)
They had a prix fixe menu, at $55 for 3 courses and $68 for four. We chose the three course menu. The menu is a bit strange– the choices on the prix fixe menu are the same as on the regular menu, so the prices are listed. You can do a 3- or 4- course meal for less (or more) than the prix fixe price depending on which choices you make. It was a bit strange to have the prix fixe not be separate from the regular menu.
For our first course, Terry got the crab cake and I got the kampachi. The crab cake was full of crab, with very little filler (which made for one of the lightest tasting crabcakes I’ve eaten) with a crunchy accent of pumpkin seeds and creamy avocado, which you can’t see underneath the topper of microgreens. Chef Balfour really likes his microgreens.
I got the kampachi– topped with seaweed salad (my favorite) and sitting in a pool of soy-ginger reduction, it was a perfect light beginning to a meal.
As an entree, I got the duck breast with sweet potato-sausage hash and a bourbon jus. I loved the inclusion of the sausage– smoked sausage, a Texas staple– into the hash. This restaurant is going for high end, but staying close to its San Antonio roots, which I respect. The duck was cooked correctly and the bourbon jus added just a bit of rich woodiness to the dish that I really liked.
Terry’s dish was standout– roast pork, fried okra with a jalapeno hush puppy, and glazed braised pork belly. Again, Texas representing with both jalapeno hush puppies (not nearly as spicy as it could have been, which is ok by me) and fried okra (which was very good, not slimy at all. I’d eat fried okra like that any time!) as well as excellent pork roast and pork belly. The glaze on the pork belly (a spicy molasses glaze, similar to a barbecue sauce, but not smoky or overwhelming) was the perfect accompaniment to the crackly fat and silky meat. Yum.
Two desserts– a chocolate gateau that tasted, essentially, like Nigella Lawson’s chocopots, with some homemade chocolate ice cream and a cinnamon croissant bread pudding with bourbon glaze and homemade cinnamon ice cream. The ice cream was the best part of both of these desserts– smooth and delicious. I am always impressed by house made ice cream– it almost always tastes better, and chefs get so creative with it. The chocolate was very good, dark, rich chocolate and the cinnamon was spicy and rich. Just perfect.
If you head to San Antonio and want a fancy dinner, bypass the tourist traps and go to Citrus. It’s an intimate meal, a good price, great surroundings, and inventive food that knows its roots.