by Steven Doyle
This past weekend a large contingent of Dallas industry folks made their way south to San Antonio for the 3rd annual San Antonio Cocktail Conference. We will explore the various aspects of that adventure in next few days, and also share some of our extraneous treks off the River Walk, and deeper into the local’s eye view of what can make a glorious weekend in the Alamo City.
One of our favorite dining experiences was a superb brunch with the very delightful Katie McKee, the manager of a King William neighborhood restaurant, Liberty Bar. Ms. McKee was brimming with incredible tales of San Antonio history, especially when it came to the restaurant which is owned by Dwight Hobart. The first incarnation of Liberty bar was set in the historic Pearl District in a building owned by brewmaster Fritz Boehler, and built over 120 years ago. There, Boehler lived with his family on the second floor, and sold groceries below next to his bar, Liberty Schooner Saloon.
In 2009 Hobart moved his restaurant which features interesting local fare and cocktails to a building on Alamo Street that was once the St. Scholastica Convent. It is evident that Hobart enjoys a good challenge, and quickly updated the building into this interesting four level (the nuns added a basement) structure with kitchens on each floor, and a whole host of bars, windy staircases, custom furnishings and secret labyrinths. On our tour through out the building McKee mentioned there would most likely be a rooftop garden and possibly beehives installed. That would complete the love, to be sure.
As for the cuisine. it is mostly local, or at least sourced very nearby. Most everything is made in house, including pastry and the lovely loaves of bread that arrive table side steaming hot. The menu is an exercise in quirk and circumstance with a heavy San Antonio influence, as you would not only expect, but pray for. You will enjoy the hoja santo wrapped grilled chicken, which most assuredly smacks slightly of the essence of absinthe which the leaves permeate.
We enjoyed a plateful of quail slathered in a heaven sent house-made green mole. Somedays it is earthen red, but all days it is geared from a handwritten recipe that includes most items found in the kitchen, as any good mole should. Delicious.
For brunch you will wish to start your morning with the eye opening Brazilian Fazenda Pantano coffee, an Austin favorite. Please taste a mimosa made from freshly squeezed juices.
You will also want to enjoy a wide selection of sausages made by Broken Arrow Ranch, including a savory venison or wild boar version. The lamb patty sausage is a must try.
goat cheese with garlic, chile morita and piloncillo sauce
The creamy 48-hour baked French toast
Geranium cream with blackberry sauce and house-made shortbread
Although our table enjoyed a wide variety of brunch items, the breathy huzzahs came from a single plated double egg sandwich with a pile of extra thick cut bacon wedged between equally as thick slices of house-made bread. However, an appetizer portion of the haunting goat cheese with garlic, chile morita and piloncillo sauce had us reeling. Even those who did not enjoy goat cheese waxed on about the intense beauty of the the dish. A must try for anyone even remotely in the vicinity of San Antonio.
The genteel experience of the Liberty Bar set in the King William Historic District will quickly fade any notion of the over-the-top carnival atmosphere that the River has waiting for anyone visiting the city of San Antonio. There are some pretty fantastic restaurants waiting on the banks, but for a true local experience, divert and enjoy the Liberty Bar.Liberty Bar | 1111 S. Alamo, San Antonio | 210.227.1187