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Sunday
Oct232011

The Monterey

The Monterey is officially my new favorite restaurant in San Antonio.  The backyard patio feel will draw you in, and the food will keep you coming back.  As you gaze up at Hemisphere Tower for once you won't be thinking "I wish I was in Austin."  Far removed from the touristy Riverwalk scene and free parking to boot.

We went with a small group of friends early one Friday evening--early enough for happy hour specials on all Texas brews and a selection of wines by the glass.  Sophie had her first Mexican coke.

 Enjoy, that's the closest I will let you get to Mexico.

While awaiting the arrival of the remainder of our party {$#%@ Friday traffic} we shared an order of the fries with charred jalapeno mayo.  The fries were out in a blink of an eye and perfectly crispy and boiling lava hot just like we like them.

The mayo was not too spicy--more like aioli but delicious nonetheless.  The server was very patient and explained each dish in detail, gave recommendations and was generally a delight.  She even made sure Sophie had her grilled cheese on the table as the adults at the table remained indecisive.

 This is what a perfectly grilled cheese sandwich looks and smells like.  I scooped up her pickled vegetables--kimchi-esque and tasty. 

The brussel sprouts are back!  Nearly every review I read for the Monterey heaped praise on these tiny cabbage harbingers of the coming season.  I couldn't leave without trying them.  Now I will go to my grave trying to figure out the right combination of sweet chili sauce and peanuts to recreate these at home. 

The server described the pork belly dish as "sort of a play on Buffalo wings."  Sitting atop their bed of egg salad and surrounded by crumbled blue cheese and celery--they were reminiscent of the ubiquitous bar food.  The tangy hot sauce cut through the fattiness of the dish and prevented it from tasting obscenely rich. 

The braised beef cheeks were, as marketed, fork tender.  They also had that beautiful glossy sauce that comes with hours and hours of cooking--missing something to mop it up with was a shame but next time we'll just order some cornbread.  Topped with watermelon radish--beautiful and crunchy, a lovely foil to the meat.

Since my selfish companions had already chosen the dishes I would have picked I was forced to order the barbecued fried chicken.  Ordering fried chicken always seems so gluttonous that I will rarely commit {like that pork belly dish was any less fattening}.  The chicken is first smoked, then battered and fried and needed no accompaniment.  I grudgingly shared with the table, but this is the kind of chicken you want to hunker down and eat like a farm hand.  Can't you just see the crunchiness?  Maybe I can convince Sophie to order this the next time we go because she would never be able to finish it all.

Desserts are a must in our family and we tried both of their selections.  Pictured above is the banana panna cotta with peanut brittle and parsley {!?} The peanut brittle was light and airy--I hate to say it, like Captain Crunch but without the roof of the mouth shredding properties.  I wished for a whole bowl of it.  Even the most staunch banana hater in the group tried this dessert.  No one was sure what to do with the parsley.  The chocolate pudding with raspberry jam and cubeb pepper (not a typo for cubed pepper but a type pepper) was pure comfort food. 

Can't wait to come back for brunch.

The Monterey on Urbanspoon

 

Reader Comments (3)

Yes, I think my new favorite too. Simple, slightly edgy food, and an amazing place to dine outside - especially nice with cooler weather and happy hour!

October 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIan

I've been wanting to try this place! I've only heard good things from friends who have been. All of these photos are great! I'm looking forward to when you figure out those brussels sprouts. :)

October 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Jessica, next time you are in SA we need to go!

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGinny

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