No, the SA edition of the embarrassingly addictive reality show doesn’t exist (yet), but I found myself fantasizing about it over a crisp glass of prosecco with Current staffer Sarah Fisch one recent evening. Bubbles rose to the surface as we imagined the cast: a bitter soccer mom in Alamo Heights, a Stone Oak cougar who ignores her children, a young divorceé from the Dominion — you get the idea.
Fisch and I decided to investigate the Champagne and tapas bar following a friend’s report that the place had a “grown-up quality,” a “cute happy hour,” and great selection of decently priced bubbly.
All of this turned out to be true. During happy hour, $10 buys “one drink and one tapa,” the crowd was indeed mature, and the selection of wine and Champagne by the glass was both impressive and approachable.
As one might expect, the Northside lounge attracts a lot of women. Owner Vanessa Morgan confessed that on a recent night she counted “40 women and only two men in the crowd.” This was no big mystery to us since men don’t usually to go ape shit over bubbles the way I do. In my opinion no Sunday is perfect without at least one glass of Champagne. Bratty? Yes. Girly? Who cares? Headaches? Well, you’re probably drinking the wrong stuff.
We asked Morgan why she chose to open a Champagne bar, and she told us she drew from personal experience. It seems she fell out of love with vodka and started learning a lot about wine. Before long, she was explaining the importance of using multiple distributors and stocking unique vintages. Possibly our fault, the conversation suddenly returned to the Real Housewives of Orange County, Atlanta, New Jersey, and New York City. Not surprisingly, Morgan is a fan, and even throws Real Housewives viewing parties on Thursday nights.
“We’re really trying to target the 35-year-old female — someone who’s not looking for a meat-market or a nightclub,” Vanessa explained. When Fisch mentioned loving the women’s restroom, which is painted purple, Morgan told her the color’s a “big hit,” but said the Bubble Room’s overall look is still coming together (she hopes to give the place more of an antique treatment in the future). This is somehow apparent in a charming way, and the place feels a bit like a swanky living room. I wasn’t too surprised when a couple I approached for a photograph declined my request. Understandably, they didn’t really feel like being noticed (or sitting up straight), having sunken deeply into a black leather sofa.
A few couples drifted in and out, lazily smoking cigarettes at outdoor café tables and coming back in for refills. Looking more intently at the wine list, Fisch and I quizzed Vanessa about a few things we’d never heard of. “You’ve gotta see this,” she said, producing a whimsical-looking bottle of sparkling wine from the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina (where Being There was filmed, Fisch pointed out). According to Vanessa, “San Antonio isn’t all that wine knowledgeable, and we intentionally don’t carry a lot of mainstream wines. I always ask what people typically drink. If they want La Crema Pinot Noir, I suggest Ancien Pinot Noir.” It seems her crowds of ladies approve of her selections. “Like this Chilensis Pinot Noir `$9/glass` — no one had ever heard of it when we started carrying it, and now we can’t keep it in stock.”
With a giggly buzz, we promised to return for one of the Real Housewives viewing parties, and rebooted our conversation about the San Antonio edition. Of course Dallas or Houston would be a more obvious choice, but if Bravo has the brains to film it here, may we please be involved in the casting? — Bryan Rindfuss