t’s the end of the month and time for another installment of Travels With Frenchie, the monthly food series in which a trio of culturally mismatched San Antonians explores our city’s culinary nooks and crannies. As always, the team consisted of: Frenchie (aka Fabien Jacob, sommelier at the legendary but soon to be closing Le Rêve), Carlos the Bike Mechanic (aka Carlos Montoya, informal taco scholar), and me (recovering vegan and occasional taco-truck stalker). Though this is a food column, we usually bring along guests from unrelated backgrounds — think lion-tamers, heavy-metal drummers, and people aspiring to a career in puppet theater. The last person you would expect to come along would be a celebrated chef from New York such as Jonathan Parker (formerly of Pesca in San Antonio, and now at the highly regarded American Hotel in the Hamptons) or Chris Dunn, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, musician, and all-around food historian.
Frenchie caught wind that a new restaurant was moving into the physical and conceptual space known as Olmos Pharmacy (and more recently, Bharmacy, after the bar that rules the evening hours.) The ever-changing goings-on at this location over the last few years have a provided a small amount of (sub)urban legend. To cut to the chase: The soda jerks haven’t returned but the Pharmacy has a classic feel once again, at least on the menu, thanks to a popular diner named Patty Lou’s, which has been transplanted from its former location at 410 and Evers. They’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner but we think breakfast is the real draw, mainly because other than Magnolia Pancake Haus, there are very few quality non-chain, non-Mexican breakfast places in town that appeal to the old-school “ham and eggers.”
The table arrangements and décor are a bit sparse but I’ll take sparseness over ersatz attempts at resuscitating the feel of an old pharmacy. Though the owners-operators may not be interior decorators, they have their priorities right and possess considerable knowledge of eggs, pancakes, biscuits, and bacon.
Dunn tried what might be Patty Lou’s signature dish, the Eggs Goldenrod, which consists of chopped hard-cooked eggs, gravy, and bacon over toast. Chris explains, “I thought it was an unusual and welcome deviation from the typical taco-heavy SA breakfast menu. The perfect kid and hangover food, it was downright
I ordered the 2-2-2, which comes with two slices of bacon, two pancakes, and two eggs. Granted, the ceiling for eggs and bacon isn’t stratospheric, but Patty Lou offers good quality for a good price. I had a taste of Chef Parker’s egg sandwich and was a bit jealous. My plate was quite satisfying but the flavors of his sandwich were even better; I’ll order that next time. Frenchie enjoyed an egg over easy with a biscuit and praised the delicate texture of the biscuit. It should be noted that all the bread is made fresh, either in-house by Patty Lou herself or by Frenchman Richard Michot, a kosher-certified Master Baker who is highly regarded by Frenchie.
The pancakes also are of interest. Though Dunn and Parker discussed whether using cake batter would add a lighter texture, we all were intrigued by some unusual topping choices, such as coconut and my favorite, candied jalapeños. The jalapeños were sedated but raised the thermometer just enough to pierce the pancakes’ dense sweetness. The cakes are generously portioned and I suggest one order to share for the whole table. No need to flex your pancreas and overdo the insulin.
Carlos returned for lunch and tried the pork loin for $9.95. In his words: “Good food, efficient service, and super-nice people. The rolls had a light shell and soft center. It was a nice break from ice cream for lunch.”
Patty Lou keeps things refreshingly simple with a focused menu. Those of you waiting 30 minutes in line outside of Taco Taco down the block, hoping to find “the best taco in America,” consider giving Patty Lou a try. •