| Cementville's main dining area. (Photo by Mark Greenberg)
Many of you surely must have studied the periodic table of elements in high school or college chemistry - if nothing else, you might remember that Au stands for gold and NaCl equals sodium chloride (salt).
The designers of Cementville Laboratory+Cafe have studied their stuff enough to come up with some clever (and handsomely designed) elements for the restaurant/bar that has taken over the old Laboratory at the Alamo Quarry Market. Cv is the logo, and the men's and women's rooms are titled elementally. Clever graphics and smart interior design elements (check out the lights over the bar and the snazzy - but, unfortunately, quite uncomfortable - Lucite bar stools) may be the best items in the equation.
The architects of the list have avoided the temptation to get too chemically clever; it is, in fact, laid out in straightforward sections such as "crisp, dry whites" and "light-body reds," which are extremely well-priced. Check out the Plumpjack Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2000 at $70 or the Caymus Conundrum Napa 2001 at $30, for example. They could offer a few more wines by the glass, but I enjoyed the Chateau d'Arqueria Tavel Rosé (once it warmed up a little) and the Rosemount Hill of Gold Shiraz (despite excessive amounts of oak) at very attractive prices. Beer, by the way, is not currently brewed on site; the stainless and copper vats are temporarily nothing more than mute, decorative dust gatherers.
7310 Jones Maltsberger
Price range: $6-39
Major credit cards
| Cementville's colorful bar area. (Photo by Mark Greenberg)
Looking for a dish with the contemporary chops of the decor on another occasion, I tried the Bronzed Pork Medallions. The trio of puck-sized rounds is served with a boucherie sauce, said to be a roux-based New Orleans creation. It tasted vaguely of filé - or maybe that was the herbal coating of the overcooked medallions. (There was an equally strange, and unidentifiable, sauce atop the meat.) The garlic mashed potatoes served with the pork were good, though - if not really reeking of garlic. And with a little more cooking (and a little more spice), the spicy sugar carrots would be fine, too.
As for dessert, the crème brulée seemed the least ponderous of all the possibilities. I'm usually a fan of crisp, sugar crusts - bien brulée, in other words. But this espresso version was almost all crust; the custard itself might have been one-eighth of an inch thick. The taste was OK, but this isn't rocket science - or even organic chemistry. Just eggs and cream.
But how 'bout those fries? Now that's alchemy. •
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