Since 1980, chef Francois Maeder has crafted artful European entrees in Crumpets Restaurant & Bakery's scenic, forest-surrounded dining haven, prompting accolades from Esquire, TripAdvisor, and OpenTable. A creek bustles beneath the bridge leading to the dining room's entrance, flanked by oak trees and a spacious patio for alfresco dining. Inside, exposed brick and tall, floor-to-ceiling windows inculcate elegance, and a painstakingly built menu of pasta, meat, and fresh seafood dishes highlights options that are heart-healthy, like running from a bear or running after a cardiologist. By request, cooks can poach or charbroil certain entrees with a nonfat Santa Elena sauce of vegetables in a cabernet reduction. Crumpets' lineup of delectable baked goods charms sweet teeth by feeding them croissants, cakes, flans, and pastries, and rotating wines from around the world arrive monthly, like new moons and new presidents.
Tunes played on the harp or keyboard during musical performances on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays fill the air with pleasantly sonorous vibrations to match the ambrosial cuisine scents wafting overhead. For more primal culinary outings, diners may be tempted to accompany Chef Maeder on gourmet rafting trips, which carry attendees through canyons and campsites with the promise of palatable rations and lessons in catfish calls.
Chef Frederick Costa teams with his brother Michel to craft inventive fusions of French and Asian cuisine at an eatery lauded by USA Today as one of the top five restaurants to eat at in San Antonio while on a business trip. Thought born in Vietnam, the culinary siblings soon moved to France, where they strengthened their skills dead-lifting pepper grinders at their parents' gourmet restaurants. Visitors to the eatery can sample succulent meats and veggies crafted from Frederick's mother's own recipes or opt for one of the chef's more recent creations. The San Antonio Express-News lauds Frederick's as having seafood dishes that "are routinely among the best in town"
Coco Chocolate Lounge has more to offer than just chocolate. That's why readers of the San Antonio Express-News voted the spot Best Neighborhood Restaurant and Best Nightclub in North Central San Antonio in 2011. Though there are plentiful cacao-based desserts served, including single-origin chocolate mousse and chocolate fondue with housemade marshmallows, Chef Hector Villarreal also experiments with savory dishes. Among his creations are stone-baked pizzas topped with house-smoked brisket and venison steaks with fried okra and béarnaise sauce.
The cuisine complements decor the San Antonio Express-News called “scrumptious with plenty of chandeliers, candlelight, and plush ruby-red velvet booths and bar seating.” As the sky darkens and everybody throws away sundials that seemed cool during the day, Coco Chocolate Lounge transitions into a nightclub, and chocolate martinis, wine, and champagne flow more freely. DJs on a dance floor and an outdoor patio spin Latin music, hip-hop, and club hits until 2:30 a.m.
Led by a husband and wife duo with more than 15 years experience, CherryBones' expert photo takers assist party planners in freezing fleeting moments with a combination of modern philosophy and vintage charm. A pro photographer arrives at designated locations to set up a mobile studio that captures the frozen images of guests for three hours as they laugh, smile, or gaze longingly at distant ice-cream trucks. The seasoned imagist crops photos and zooms the camera, helping render snug close-ups or wide shots. Included props invite photo subjects to pose behind items such as masks or mustaches. Afterward, guests can log onto an online gallery to scan through snapshots or magnify them and scour images for clues to the location of lost car keys. DVDs with photos are available for an additional $15.
At Le Chat Noir Eatery, owner and head chef Lynn Oefinger refuses to let her cooking lapse into routine. In addition to constantly updating the menus to incorporate seasonal ingredients, she fully commits her attention to seemingly minute details, making caesar salad dressing from scratch and branding her initials into every steak. As she told San Antonio Express News in 2011, "if you take time to make it something special, people will appreciate it."
A graduate of the Texas Culinary Academy, she uses her formally refined techniques to give traditional American dishes a fusion flair, coating a po boy's shrimp in Japanese panko breadcrumbs and spicing a duck breast with Indian chai.
Wooden beams line the white walls and ceiling of the dining room, which remain clean and blank except for a few pieces of framed artwork and an art nouveau thermostat. Sheer, gauzy curtains gently filter out lights shone through the window by search-and-rescue teams specializing in endangered crème brûlée.
Today's Groupon gets you $60 worth of French cuisine for $30 at Aquarelle Restaurant Français, the elegant restaurant the Austin Chronicle calls "one of a handful of restaurants bold enough to offer rabbit, sweetbreads, and other organ meats to the sometimes squeamish Austin palate." It serves gourmet cuisine, such as black truffles and fresh duck foie gras, in a romantic turn-of-the-century home in downtown Austin.
The chefs at La Pâtisserie by Oven-Fresh Delights satisfy sweet and savory cravings with a menu of handcrafted French-style pastries, sandwiches, and desserts. The Paris-Brest is a traditional dessert inspired by the Tour de France that fills a ring of pastry dough with rich hazelnut cream to resemble the tire of a bicycle or the donuts on strings used to train cyclists. A thick crust bookends raspberries suspended in whipped cream in the framboisier, and long prisms of succès praliné embed sweetened nuts in buttercream sandwiches. Letting influences from French kitchens shine through all the while, cooks stir pots of rich béchamel sauce and assemble croquet-madames, open-faced stacks of brioche, black-forest ham, and three types of cheese. Butter twists into savory dough for croissants, and from the oven drift scents that hint at spinach and leek quiches.