wescravins

Auden’s Kitchen: Where Cheer and Eats are hand-in-hand

In American, Soul Food on March 2, 2012 at 5:10 pm

I invited a friend of mine, Nicole Mardell, to pick a great place to eat in San Antonio and to be this blog’s first guest blogger. I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading her review as much as I did, so here it is!

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I want to preference this blog with this statement: my boyfriend and I absolutely enjoy eating.  San Antonio has some of the best food spots and hang outs around and I just could not decide (obviously, since it’s taken five months to finally find a place worthy of reviewing).   I considered all of my favorite haunts before I settled for – scratch that – picked Auden’s Kitchen.

Auden’s is owned and operated by Bruce Auden.  He wanted to open up a place with great atmosphere and “everyday food with wine and beer … the way Bruce cooks at home.”  Auden’s is cozy, comfy and elegant… but with a casual dress code that any Friday nighter would enjoy.  The staff is always congenial and knows the menu.  My particular favorite waitress is Hillary.  She provides excellent service and is always willing to converse with the customers – this, to me, adds charm to a place.

Now to the good stuff, the food.  That’s why you’re here, right?

Saturday nights are strictly meant for my boyfriend and I, sometimes we stay in and watch a movie or hit the town.  We both don’t like to get too fancy, too often, so Auden’s is always a great choice.  This particular Saturday, Auden’s was so busy we had a 45-minute wait… Not that it’s a bad thing, cause you can just lounge in their bar area and grab a pre-dinner drink.  However, Auden’s does offer reservations by phone or online!

We finally got a seat and ordered drinks and appetizers.  I went with a Hob Nob Chardonnay that is crisp with a buttery finish.  It’s definitely one of my favorite chardonnays around.

For appetizers, we selected the Bluebonnet salad and Tempura Fried Shrimp.  The salad is a must.  All the ingredients just work together to provide a delightful dish.  Together the baby spring mix, cherry tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, green apples, almonds and goat cheese are just an explosion of deliciousness that every person should experience.  However, the thing that is unique about this salad is the dressing, it’s sweet with a peppery hint that just leaves you wanting to take Auden’s fresh baked bread and lap the rest of it up!

Bluebonnet Fields Salad

For the tempura fried shrimp, it was OK.  I could tell there was a Thai influence in this dish with the lime and cilantro dressing, but beyond that it just bland for what I’m use to getting at Auden’s.  The dish is served cold, so the rice noodles flopped all over the place and they tasted undercooked when you finally chewed your way into them.  There was an interesting after taste with the watermelon chunks, but all in all – the dish is not my favorite.

Tempura Fried Shrimp

One of the best things about Auden’s is their ability to please you.  A time before this, I had gone to the restaurant and ordered the Buttermilk Fried Chicken and this time I wanted to repeat the experience I had prior by ordering it, but it wasn’t on the menu!  Hillary had no problems and said the kitchen will do whatever I want!  Now, let me tell you – if you don’t order this on it’s own – do yourself a favor and order the one piece on the side for $3.  This chicken, hands down, is the best fried chicken I’ve ever had – yet.  The thing is, the buttermilk fried goodness on the outside is just the beginning, inside the meat remains juicy and the buttermilk flavor actually lives deep inside the chicken.  To top it off, the gravy served on the side is worthy of being made in mass amounts and bathed in.  The green beans and mashed potatoes are standard sides that compliment the main dish well, but the chicken is really the star on this plate.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Last but not least, dessert.  Previously, I’ve never had room for dessert, but since I was reviewing the place, I set aside half my dinner for leftovers and ordered dessert. The Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse was definitely not what I was expecting, but the experience was one worth having.  Instead of the mousse having a creamy viscosity, it was more dense and rich in texture.  The peanut butter flavor complimented the milk chocolate nice.  This dessert is served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but I can say that I let that melt and just stuck with the deliciousness next door.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse

So, the next time you are in the Stone Oak area and looking for a good place to hang your hat for a few hours, step into Auden’s and ask for Hillary! She’ll take great care of you and the atmosphere/food combination will make you feel like you’re already home.

Some Serious Burger Innovation

In Burgers, San Antonio on January 21, 2012 at 3:30 am

1624 E. Commerce -- Within Walking Distance of Downtown!

As I’ve said somewhere to someone, San Antonio has some of the best burger joints around. Little did I know that some serious innovation has been taking place on the east side of San Antonio at Fatty’s Burgers. Locally owned and operated, Fatty’s owner Mark, recently started serving some “outside the box” burgers. I’ve been excited about eating a burger before, but I’ve never had fun eating one until I went and tried out the ice cream burger. That’s right, an ice cream burger!

I’ve tried two of their five new releases. Below I’ve reviewed the ice cream burger and the pancake burger. The other three new ones are the breakfast burger (served with an egg), the BBQ burger (served with sliced brisket), and the chocolate chip cookie burger.

The Ice Cream Burger

Some, if not many, will be suspicious of just how good (or bad) an ice cream burger might taste. Well, I think it tastes pretty dang good and others seems to agree. Fatty’s burgers are already great, but when you add delicious ice cream (either vanilla or strawberry) to an already delicious burger, then well, get ready for a fun experience. Along with the burger, go ahead and order their award-winning, beer-battered onion rings.

Beans That Actually Taste Good

Oh, and while your waiting, be sure and enjoy a cup of their complementary pinto beans. I normally don’t think much of pinto beans, but if beans tasted like Fatty’s most of the time, then I’d be a bean connoisseur. Just sayin’.

The Pancake Burger

On another visit, I ordered the pancake burger. Just look at that burger! Bread, pancake, meat, cheese, and syrup. That’s it. I had to ditch the bun half way through because, as good as it is, it’s like eating a burger with double the bread. The pancake was really good and so was the burger. It’s ideal for brunch and it will fill you up quickly.

Can you believe what you’ve just seen? I’m still really excited about these outside the box burgers and I’d recommend anyone reading this post to at least go and order the ice cream burger. Have some fun and say hi to Barbara, Fatty’s hostess. You’ll love her hospitality and kindness and she’ll take good care of you.

If you can’t bring yourself to order the ice cream or pancake burger, check out the menu below and take your pick. Bby the way, take a look at Fatty’s website by clicking here and check out how their building looked before it was renovated and became a fine, east side establishment. Let’s support this locally owned and operated restaurant and spread the word about this great place!

Fatty’s hours: Mon – Wed 11am – 6pm; Thurs – Sat 11am – 8pm; closed for church on Sunday.

These Are Your Burger Options, Plus More!

Next post…my favorite coffee shop in the Alamo City!

La Tuna is Spanish for…The Tuna

In American, Burgers, San Antonio on January 14, 2012 at 2:49 am

Sandwiched between the Blue Star Arts Complex and the new Cevallos Lofts, while at the same time floating on a sea of bottle caps, La Tuna Grill serves up some tasty dishes in beloved Southtown. With two buildings on its property, one for drinking and one for eating, La Tuna offers one more great place to enjoy within walking distance of downtown San Antonio.

Like I said, La Tuna Grill is made-up of two separate buildings. The smaller building on the corner is where you can go to have drinks.  You can drink inside or drink on the small patio which has a pool of bottle caps next to it. Bottle caps are everywhere, but next to the bar it’s like walking on sand .

Don't believe me? Here's a snapshot of the bottle caps.

You’ll need to go to the larger building in the back if you want to eat or buy some art. La Tuna doesn’t offer a whole lot of inside seating, but they make-up for it with lots of seating outside on the porch and several picnic tables.

So far, my dish of choice at La Tuna is their Blackened Fish Tacos. Blackened cod is served on corn tortillas with shredded cabbage, onions and cilantro. The tacos are topped with green chile cream sauce and are served with nopalito salad, which is excellent if you like nopales (nopal cactus). It’s even healthy! This dish costs $8.59. If you like fish tacos and haven’t tried La Tuna’s, please make a visit and try them out!

Blackened Fish Tacos

After the fish tacos, my next favorite dish is chicken tortilla soup. It was the soup of the day when I went. Served with corn chips, this soup is sooooo delicious and I’d say very hard to beat. It’s hearty and full of flavor. Grab one while it’s still cold outside. Other soups are available and a cup is $3.59 while a bowl is $4.99.

Chicken, Tortilla Soup

Surprisingly, La Tuna has some really good wings. I hate it when I order wings that come with very little wing sauce. You won’t have that problem here. They are drenched in a zesty, spicy house sauce. The wings are $7.99 and I’m sure you’ll have a few bucks worth of wing sauce all over your face by the time your done with them. Ask for extra napkins at the start. Don’t order them if you’re on a date.

La Tuna Wings

Finally, La Tuna’s website says, “Rumor has it that this is the BEST burger in town.” While I’ve never heard this rumor, I’d say it’s not the best, but it’s not bad either. Even though it comes with a 1/2 pound Black Angus patty, the patty itself could use some more flavor. The cheddar and jack cheese is nice, but what dominates is the soft, yet lightly toasted, sweet bun. The Cheesy burger is $8.29 and is served with your choice of a house salad, wedge fries, or nopalito salad.

Half-Pound, Cheesy Burger

Take note of La Tuna’s hours. They are open from 11:00 – 2:30 for lunch, 5:00 – 9:30 for dinner, and they are closed on Sunday. They say it’s “loco” at La Tuna on First Friday, but I’d deal with any amount of loco if that means enjoying their amazing, fish tacos and nopalito salad.

View of La Tuna's Restaurant

The place to drink. It even has a fire pit to keep you warm!

Next post…ice cream cheeseburger!