A pleasant 25-minute drive north of downtown San Antonio sits an attractive, newly opened restaurant in The Shops at the Overlook strip. If you don’t think about the rising price of gas or that the “overlook” is a Stone Oak parking lot, you can enjoy a very good meal at Firewater Grille for $12 to $20.
Firewater is an open, airy place, with high ceilings and a variety of dropped lights. The bar and dining areas are divided by a Plexiglas screen waterfall, with seating for 60 in front at a variety of booths and tables, and room for another 40 at tall tables or along the well-equipped bar in the back.
The décor is very comfortable, modern but welcoming, with pearl blue walls, a few abstract paintings, four flat-screen TVs on mute, an ersatz wood floor, and nicely upholstered banquettes. Spacing is generous, and the noise stays soft. The serving staff mostly keep out of sight, but appear when needed — drink refill, next course, your check. After all, do we really need someone asking “still working on that?” every few minutes?
The menu is ample (i.e. it takes up two pages): appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, and entrées. Pass on the sliders and chips and salsa in favor of starting with something a bit funkier like the Chiles Wilde, a big, roasted Anaheim pepper stuffed with goat cheese and bacon-wrapped shrimp, or the country fried oysters with spicy lime aioli.
Several entrée temptations passed me on the way to other diners (herb mahi-mahi with couscous, Cajun shrimp po-boys, grilled pork loin with polenta), but I opted for the New Age Nicoise Salad. It’s easily a full meal, a large plate with romaine lettuce, potato, string beans, and 0chopped egg, surrounded by five slabs of sesame-encrusted raw tuna, almost a half-pound of fish. The dressing was a well-balanced lemon and olive oil, but the salad still needed salt and pepper. Warm wheat rolls came on request.
The desserts are a tour de force! I meandered back and forth before deciding on the pineapple upside down cake over paella rice pudding. The only dessert my mom ever made was pineapple upside down cake (with a heavy splash of Bacardi), so I wanted to check my memory against Firewater’s preparation. Firewater won hands down. The cake was moist, the pineapple soft and sugary, and even the maraschino cherry (minus the stem) was there. Plus it was accompanied by a smooth dulce de leche ice cream, an incredibly rich, heavy cream-and-caramel concoction. A few more calories than required, but what the heck, I had salad first, didn’t I?
The wine list is also a welcome find, not pricey, with a good range of domestics (all California, one lonely Oregonian), accompanied by Spaniards, Italians, Argentinians, Chileans, and a few German Rieslings. Altogether about 25 types of vino are available by the glass, but 50 or so by the bottle. Most bottles are $22-$30; the well-filled glasses start at $5.50. The William Hill Chardonnay from California’s central coast is a fruity choice (hints of nectarine and apple) and a bargain glassful for $6.50.
I didn’t see any kiddos, but there are a half-dozen choices for them at $6 and under, including sliders and fries. Same menu is offered at lunch and dinner. A patio sits alongside the restaurant for alfresco dining.
26108 Overlook Pkwy
THE SKINNY: A fresh, new place on the north side with varied menu items at affordable prices
BEST BETS: New Age Nicoise Salad, Herb Mahi-Mahi, Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Paella Rice Pudding
HOURS: 11am-11pm Sunday-Wednesday, 11am-2am Thursday-Saturday
PRICES: $9-25 lunch/dinner, $5.50-10 wine by glass, $20+ bottles