A visit to San Antonio used to me plenty of enchiladas and mariachis, and while those are always wonderful the latest cuisine coming out of the Alamo city is hot, fresh and vibrant. The young chefs are doing in San Antonio much like they are doing in Dallas and across the country – creating innovative fare for a more than eager audience. One such chef we visited was Robbie Nowlin, from the Hotel Valencia’s Citrus restaurant (located on the Riverwalk), who is self taught, like many of the super talents who began cooking at a young age and has risen through the ranks of such notable restaurants as The French Laundry, The Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills and Las Canarias at Omni La Mansión del Rio.
Nowlin has garnered kudos from all the important national and local publications, but has also won the Chaîne des Rôtissuers competition for best young chef three years in a row.
As you might expect from a French Laundry alumnus, Nowlin has his way with charcuterie, and more importantly foie. At the Napa restaurant he is listed as butcher, so this makes total sense. His delicate hand on his charcuterie board is inspiring, including his Paté de Campagne, Chicken Liver Mousse, Beef Tongue Pastrami, and Duck “Ham”. And took enjoyment with dishes such as the Foie Gras “Mille Crepe” with compress strawberry, celery, banana, Telicherry Black Pepper crème fraîche, and candied hazelnut.
When it comes to entrees, listed as “Savor”, your only trouble will be in a proper selection – but never fear for ordering regret. It simply doesn’t happen at Citrus. If found it wonderfully delicious how guests chatted up adjoining tables inquiring about the dishes they ordered, and the banter often ended in an appropriate squeal of delight.
The Spring lamb shank is inviting with piperade, pickled eggplant, frisée, and a mustard seed glaze. And a local chef suggested the dry aged duck breast served with crispy fried rice, duck confit, eggplant, cucumber, and a sauce Japonaise. My server implored me to try the Butter Poached Maine Lobster with black trumpet mushrooms, cippolini onions, glazed baby beets with a Béarnaise Mousseline and a selection of potatoes. Interestingly enough he smartly suggested a pairing of a red blend that cut through the sweetness of the sauce. This was a cherished choice.
Desserts are not an after thought at Citrus, with plenty to select from including Warm Varlhrona Chocolate-Agave Nectar Ganache , and a fine selection of cheeses from Cypress Grove Creamery including the Truffle Tremor, Humboldt Fog, and Purple Haze.
There is a super nice bar located just across from the restaurant on the second floor of the Hotel Valencia, and there you will find a wonderful wine selection, local drafts and craft cocktails.