Having enjoyed lunch at The Grill at Leon Springs shortly after it opened a few months ago, we decided it was time to revisit. From downtown San Antonio, it’s 20 miles north, at exit 551 on I-10 West. Thierry Burkle, the Parisian chef who brought Broadway standard L’Etoile to San Antonio a generation ago, has created a very comfortable country-style restaurant, with spare but attractive decor, on the former site of Macaroni Grill.
The open-view, copper-walled kitchen is high-tech. The flooring is stained concrete. A wine rack runs the length of the main dining room and divides the seating areas. Plenty of space between dark cherry tables and booths permits private conversations. Small spots and translucent cones provide gentle but adequate lighting.
The luncheon menu is fairly simple: a half-dozen large entree salads, four or five sandwiches, and four full entree meals. I had the marinated beef salad, and my companion chose a Thai curry with shrimp and basmati rice in a lime sauce. Both were fresh and well prepared. They were accompanied by a tasty sourdough bread with olive oil and parmesan mixed for dipping. `See Amuse-bouche, February 18, 2009, for a little more about this visit.`
The Grill has a well-chosen wine list, with most in the $8-$9/glass range, including two Becker private labels, a Viognier and a Malbec. The house wine at a modest $5.50 a glass is a California Cooperidge. Wine by the bottle tends to be a bit pricey, with most $50 and above, but among the more reasonably priced reds, the Buehler Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 20005 and the Marques de Caceres, Rioja, Reserva 2001 stand out for quality and value.
Dinner definitely met our expectations, with a wide selection of housemade pastas, seafood, and grilled meats to deliberate over. We started with fresh oysters and spring rolls filled with chopped crab, shrimp, and pork with mint. Thierry was featuring five signature entrees at $12 each, and I selected the slow-braised pork shoulder, which is served in an iron crock pot and came in a rich meat sauce with bits of prosciutto, onions, carrots, potato, and a spicy chili paste on the side. It was delicious, filling, and transported me back to meals eaten on little side streets off the Boulevard Sainte Germain. My partner had the mesquite grilled salmon over white rice with zucchini. For me, her barbecue sauce was too sweet, but I accept that’s a Texas preference. Serves me right for sticking my fork in her plate.
The Grill features five or six desserts, all made on premises. If you like chocolate, try the terrine with layers of white and bittersweet chocolate, or the truly decadent chocolate soufflé. I had the apple crepia, a fabulous rich torte with vanilla ice cream, a caramel sauce, and diced apples and fresh berries on top. Dieting or not, do not pass on dessert!
If time and your budget allow, you might close your dinner with one of several reserve ports and/or speciality coffees. Service is excellent, attentive yet unobtrusive. The staff clearly has been well chosen and professionally trained. Time passes easily, and a couple of pleasant and memorable hours go by. The location is smart, too, taking advantage of nearby Boerne and the Dominion residents, as well as San Antonians willing to drive half an hour for an excellent dinner.
Thierry, who has a degree in business, has come up with several pricing options to attract diners during these tough economic times. In addition to the $12 signature entrees (“Economic Stimulus Menu”) on Wednesdays, he offers early-bird, three-course dinners at $19.95, and heart-healthy three-course meals for $25 on some week nights. Check the website or call ahead.
The Grill at Leon Springs
24116 IH 10 West
Sophisticated contemporary cuisine in a relaxed, stylish setting on the edge of the Hill Country
The slow-braised pork shoulder, and apple crepia for dessert
Lunch: 11:30am-2:30pm Mon-Sat, 11:30am-3pm Sun
Dinner: 5-10pm Mon-Thu, 5-11pm Fri-Sat, 5-9:30pm Sun
Entrées: $9-$25 at lunch; $12-36 at dinner