Like attaching a fake mustache to a Halloween mask or cleverly changing your name from Obi-Wan Kenobi to Ben Kenobi, adding a new ingredient to something familiar can render it delightfully unrecognizable. Enjoy inventive eats with today's Groupon: for $25, you get $50 worth of contemporary American fare at Auden’s Kitchen.
2011 James Beard award–nominee and owner of Auden’s Kitchen, Bruce Auden lends his years of kitchen expertise to those of head chef Patricia Wenckus in creating a menu of innovative American eats. A school of tempura shrimp ($12) rests on a cool tundra of chili-lime rice noodles speckled with watermelon, peanuts, and mint, piquing appetites and smothering spontaneously combustive taste buds. Saffron-infused Israeli couscous and oven-dried tomatoes cushion a perfectly roasted half chicken served with roasted garlic jus ($20), and beef hanger steak, resting atop a bed of grilled asparagus, comes encrusted in black pepper and lavender ($23). Choose from a quintet of maritime meals including pan-seared salmon with feta polenta cake ($20), jumbo shrimp entangled in a net of spicy garlic-tomato fettuccine ($21), or a whole trout ($22) spooked into delectable submission by Captain Ahab’s ghost.
Even the best chefs have to get their start somewhere, and that somewhere is often a burger joint. This is certainly true of five-time James Beard nominee Bruce Auden. The profile in the San Antonio Express-News traces his meteoric rise from flipping burgers at a cabana to apprenticing under Guy Petit to earning Food & Wine magazine's Best New Chef title in 1988. Since then, Auden has continued to hone his culinary innovation, first at his award-winning restaurant Biga and now at Auden's Kitchen.
Auden’s Kitchen retains a local focus and serves creatively redesigned comfort food. There's buttermilk fried chicken with lemon-pepper marinade, and burgers with dijon aioli and applewood bacon. Pizzas come with house-pulled mozzarella and the hot kiss of a wood-burning oven, which also prepares salmon and whole-roasted trout. In addition to these classics, the seasonal menu saves space for a number of more lavish entrees, such as duck confit blanketed with cherry-zinfandel barbecue sauce. Diners have more than 75 wines to choose from, as well as bar offerings such as martinis and imported beer.
The dining room’s laid-back decor invites guests to relax, rather than worry about whether they’re combing their hair with the right salad fork. Wine bottles and copper pots cluster on shelves lining the dining-room walls, and diners can see right into the kitchen over a stainless-steel countertop shaded by a bevy of frying pans.