Saturday, July 7, 2012

Biga on the Banks - San Antonio

Things have been so busy for me in San Antonio that I didn't get a chance to do too many culinary detours.  But my flight leaves back to Vancouver tomorrow so I decided I must visit this one place before I go - no matter what.

Chef Bruce Auden gets consistantly nominated for a James Beard Best Chef award (the culinary equivalent to the oscars) and his premiere restaurant "Biga on the Banks" is just a 10 minute walk from my hotel.  

After placing my order I was surprised with a complimentary starter salad.  According to my server the chef felt sad that I was dining by myself so he gave me a gift.  I'm sure he's just playing with me but I appreciated it!

The salad was pretty simple with golden beats, cherry tomatoes, feta, shredded carrots and cucumbers tossed together with lettuce using a standard house vinaigrette.

I don't know why but I recently started to become a fan of beats and feta in my salad so I definitely enjoyed my complimentary starter.  I usually like walnuts to provide that extra texture element in a salad like this but I guess the tortilla chip provided that in this case.

The next course is a dual of roast quail and elk.  I don't remember ever having elk before so I was really interested in this dish.  I had venison before at La Crocodile and didn't quite care for venison.  Is elk and venison the same?  Not quite sure.  Anyways the elk prepared here was delicious!  Coasted with an 11 spice rub and cooked to medium rare.  I tried to look for a gamey taste but I couldn't detect anything.  It pretty much tasted like a chewier version of a beef tenderloin.  The quail was great.  The trickiness of quail is that you want to make sure it's cook thoroughly but because it's so small it's often overcooked.  Not this time.  Accompanying the proteins is a parsnip puree (tasted a lot like mashed potatoes but healthier!), chestnuts, Brussels sprouts, cranberry raisin chutney, juniper demi sauce.  I don't eat brussels sprouts very much but after trying it here I decided that I like it!  I'll have to learn how to cook brussels sprouts now.  My only criticism is that there isn't the care and attention to detail in terms of presentation that I would expect in a high end restaurant.  A little bit too rustic.

For dessert I had a grand mariner souffle.  I've had souffl├ęs prepared for me at Hubert Keller's Fleur de Lys, the Eiffel Tower restaurant in Vegas, and at Dale McKay's Ensemble and this one is my favourite.  It had a lightness / airiness to it that I enjoyed a lot.  Again the presentation is not as good as the others though.  Professional souffles usually raise straight out of the ramekin and this one had a muffin top but in terms of flavour and texture it was there.

Altogether with a large bottle of San Pellegrino and taxes my meal was $65.  It also came with a complementary bread basket which included some delicious corn bread.

Biga on the Banks on Urbanspoon

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