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Food & Drink

Adiós Revolution Room, Hello Leon

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo


Change. Some campaign on it, creatures of habit can’t stand the thought of it. For Lee Beekly, owner of Revolution Room, change was necessary.

Beekly, who also owns Taco Garage and Rebar, decided to do a 180 with Rev Room.

“A year, year and a half ago, it started going in a different direction that we wanted,” Beekly said. “I’m older now, I wanted something different.”

The catalyst for the upheaval? Constant police attention the Revolution Room received in the past two years.

This wasn’t always the case. Beekly first partnered with Greg Bickerstaff to open Revolution Room eight years ago after a would-be trip to Berlin turned into an extended stay in Prague. There, Beekly visited coffee shops, discotheques, grotto clubs and learned about the Velvet Revolution (the former Czechoslovakia’s non-violent protest that led to the collapse of Communism there).

The bar was a go-to for area college students looking to barhop between The Hangar, Rebar and Salud without heading downtown.

But now 48 years old and a family man, Beekly’s looking for a change of pace from the “Dance Party, USA” culture.

Sure, Beekly admits, fights happen. But the rowdy, rough-around-the-edges crowd garnered attention from WOAI this past February, which interviewed fed-up neighbors about the weekly parking lot brawls. The segment, followed by a particularly gnarly fisticuffs session amongst bar hoppers near Rev Room, led to Beekly taking down the establishment’s sign, changing the dress code and finding new deejays within days.

The bar is taking on a new moniker, Leon, after Beekly’s grandfather, a geologist born in 1883 who scoured South America and Europe surveying the land for oil and railroads on horseback and later Model Ts. Photos of Leon and his work buddies are scattered throughout the bar, along with new wooden panels, antique tables and wagon wheel light fixtures.

The lifelong restaurateur and bar owner isn’t going it alone. Beekly’s enlisted the help of new partner and longtime Taco Garage patron Joel Rivas to rebrand Leon into a rustic, Americana-tinged ice house/whiskey bar/beer garden.

“We wanted to build something that fits into the neighborhood,” Rivas said of the bar space they’re hoping to turn “from a menace into an asset.”

The upgrades have been slow and steady: The two-month old patio will eventually incorporate a 1955 Spartan trailer outfitted with some 18-plus draught beers. Already, the beer and booze selection is looking up with the addition of craft brews and local spirits. Although the grand opening isn’t slated until August 16, and Beekly often wonders if the venture will stick, he’s finding some peace of mind.

“Sales might have plummeted, but so did the police blotter,” he said.

Leon

8123 Broadway
(210) 320-4567
facebook.com/Leon1883

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Far From a Fad, Cabrito’s Lasting Legacy in SA

Photo: paytonphotography.com, License: N/A

paytonphotography.com

Fad? No. Delicious? Yes.



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Little-known (and probably not all that interesting) factoid: I grew up with goats. Not in a cohabiting in the barn sense (except when tasked with milking, a chore I was at pains to keep hidden from classmates), but with goat’s milk every day. And, as these critters were as much pets as providers of leche, we never considered eating them. Somehow, the kids just miraculously disappeared at a certain age. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned they didn’t go to gambol on someone else’s greensward.

So despite goat’s status as the world’s most-eaten meat, I can’t remember ever having had it until arriving in San Antonio—most likely at either Mi Tierra or Los Barrios. It’s a mainstay on both menus to this day, but the connection to Los Barrios is in many ways the most direct due to El Rey del Cabrito, Rogelio Treviño. I interviewed the silver-haired Sr. Trevino (whose son Roland and daughter-in-law Diana Barrios Treviño are of the Los Barrios empire) in 2002 while doing an article for Texas Highways. He recounted how his father, Catarino Treviño, had sold meat door-to-door in Monterrey before coming to San Antonio with his family in 1927. Quickly picking up where he had left off, Catarino founded La Reforma Meat Market on South Laredo; Rogelio (who passed away five years ago in his late 80s) began working there at the age of seven, helping tend the steamer that held cow, sheep and goat heads for barbacoa. “My father introduced cabrito here,” he said, and so it became the main product of United Meat Company, the wholesale arm of La Reforma Rogelio later founded and ran for decades. “We used to [process] 200 or 300 goats a week,” he recalled. (Another factoid: in 1944, cabrito sold for 30 cents a pound.)

As the third generation in his family to carry on the profession, Roland Treviño says, “I’ve been a butcher all my life, but I’m astonished by the recent change in goat’s popularity—and that 10 years ago it was half the price.” We can assign some of that popularity to the opening of a couple of restaurants dedicated to presenting cabrito in its most basic norteño form—not baked or simmered, as has been the case here to date, but splayed, spitted and cooked over coals.

Johnny Hernandez got the jump on spitted goat, but only just barely, at El Machito in the Quarry. (See “Northern Mexico Makes its Way to the Quarry,” July 9.) The most recent arrival, direct from Monterrey where they have three outlets, is Los Cabriteros on Henderson Pass. As the name suggests, LC concentrates on cabrito—and in addition to goat quarters, goat tacos and their version of cabrito en salsa, one can also order cabecita (the whole head, “eyeballs, tongue and all,” said one waiter), fritanga (goat stewed in blood) and machitos. The machitos, consisting of interior parts stuffed into intestine and grilled, are way better than one might imagine, but newcomers to the party can be excused for not rushing to order them. There is no excuse for not picking, say, the paleta, or shoulder blade. Yes, it’s $27.99 but will serve at least two; it’s mild and tender; and it’s moist enough to eat without salsa—though you’ll want to try all three.

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Happy Hour Hound: 20Nine Restaurant & Wine Bar

Photo: Jessica Elizarraras, License: N/A

Jessica Elizarraras

A wine road trip without paying for gas


Wanting to put the ol’ sniffer to the test, I went the wine-enthusiast route for this installment of Happy Hour Hound with a visit to 20Nine Restaurant & Wine Bar. Opened in 2009, 20Nine tries to provide “a Napa Valley road trip experience without leaving San Antonio,” and while the restaurant makes you long for Napa’s lush green hills and cooler climate, it does succeed in getting its point across (even if it is located inside the Quarry shopping center).

Happy hour, 3:30 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, offers 25 percent off all wines, by the bottle or glass, appetizers and pizzas. The space is divided into four areas: a sprawling patio, a light-filled vestibule, a cozy bar and a cavernous dining room where a mural of the Napa and Sonoma Valley regions and wineries of note are mapped. My happy hour hound partner and I were seated in front of the Australian and French country maps, however, where I spotted the Barossa Valley, the Alsace and Rhône regions.

Our wine education continued as we pored over the ever-evolving “Road Trips” (or flights) available in reds and whites, six of each, and priced regularly between $9 and $22. I looked to the Australia map for guidance and settled on Road Trip No. 8 of Shiraz and Syrah, $11.25 during happy hour. Several minutes later, our server popped back in with a wire wine carrier and delivered my trio. Ordered from left to right were a 2011 Footbolt Shiraz from d’Arenberg; a 2011 Syrah from Halter Ranch Vineyard in Paso Robles, Calif.; and finally a 2012 Blue Eyed Boy out of Mollydooker Wines, of Australia’s McLaren Vale area.

The itinerary, a small printout with descriptions of the wines, doubled as tour guide. The deep, dark d’Arenberg offering was medium bodied with notes of pepper, nutmeg and caraway, while the Mollydooker laid down black cherry, red plum, raspberry and just a hint of licorice. My fave, the Syrah, held a bouquet of “slightly reduced aromas of black cherry, smoky minerals, plum sauce and smoked meat,” and was a swell companion to 20Nine’s meatball appetizer. How can you argue with three moderately sized, tender and perfectly seasoned meatballs in a rich sauce topped with melted mozzarella? Ya can’t. The fresh-baked garlic bread was an added bonus.

While you won’t be able to take too many “Road Trips” or pop more than a couple bottles without putting a serious dent in your wallet, 20Nine’s happy-hour prices make it an accessible and swanky option for when you need a more refined approach.

20Nine Restaurant & Wine Bar

255 E Basse, Ste 940
(210) 798-9463
20ninewine.com

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Kid (Goat) Facts: More cabrito tidbits to know

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Joe Doria knows cabrito. The market manager at Bolner’s Meat Market for the last 14 years, Doria’s been in the goat game since the age for nine, still raises kids at home and doesn’t hold back when asked about cabrito as a trend.

“It’s not. It’s been feeding families for years,” Doria said.

There’s quite a bit of wiggle room when it comes to what exactly constitutes cabrito, starting with size. At Bolner’s, cabritos are sold in three categories: small (10 to 12 pounds), medium (12 to 15 pounds) and large (15 to 20 pounds), but Doria stresses size preference varies by region. For instance, someone preparing cabrito in the Valley will want a small, tender animal, while “Hill Country boys” might want a larger animal, according to Doria.

Sizes will also vary by breed. The smaller Spanish goat has been phased out and crossed with the Boer goat, a popular show breed that’s generally larger.

How the kid is raised and fed also plays a part in how some folks choose their animal. A full set of teeth could be a turn off for some folks, while others prefer the kid to still be “suckin’ on their mama,” as Doria put it. Although tethering a kid to ensure it doesn’t consume anything other than its mother’s milk is uncommon, and mostly frowned upon, Doria hints at areas within San Antonio where the practice is still used.

Although he wouldn’t disclose the number of cabritos sold on a weekly basis at Bolner’s, Doria has seen an increase in the number of adult goats sold, a market he’s seen develop as other ethnicities join SA’s melting pot; Indian and Middle Eastern restaurateurs tend to go for larger animals, processed into cubes.

When it comes to processing cabrito, Doria and co. offer a six-way cut: a paleta, or shoulder; costillas and riñonada, or ribs and the area where the kidneys are found; and the pierna, or hindquarters. “My kids fight for the kidneys at home,” Doria said.

And while he lists the plentiful ways cabrito can be served (guisado, al pastor, al horno, en salsa or machacado, to name a few), Doria’s ingredient list for grilled cabrito isn’t quite as long. “Salt, pepper, garlic—that’s it.”

[Related: "A Sure-Fire Smoked Cabrito Recipe"]

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Lost Bar Nails Drunk Food, Sports Bar Vibe

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Photo: Jessica Elizarraras, License: N/A

Jessica Elizarraras

The Chubby Melt is no joke


Much like the cookie-cutter houses that fill the North Side, (most) bars outside of 1604, hell outside 410, tend to have that same formulaic feel. There’s nothing completely wrong with this strategy, and if it works, it works damn well. Case in point—Lost Bar & Grill.

Finding it isn’t as difficult as the name suggests so put away that compass (as the logo suggests). Lost Bar sits inside a shopping center just past the northwest corner at the intersection of Northwest Military Highway and Wurzbach Parkway. A neighborhood sports bar through and through, Lost Bar wears its purpose on its figurative sleeve. There’s all manners of banners hanging from the ceiling with most hailing from Texas teams, save for the random Denver Broncos and University of Kansas banners. There’s even a Coors Light-emblazoned car hood, so I’m betting Nascar is on the table whenever in season. Football fans can camp out early and take advantage of Lost Bar’s subscription to the NFL Sunday Ticket channel.

Lost Bar isn’t the biggest or most cavernous out there, but it does offer variety by using its digs effectively. Cozy up to the long bar, grab a seat on the patio or get a group together in the dining area with booths and tables for four. Tall faux barrels are also available for groups for a better view of the joint.

On the drink side of things, Lost Bar covers its ground with nine house cocktails that use Texas-made spirits and mixers, including a Ruby Red Cosmo made with Deep Eddy Ruby Red vodka, the T1 Margarita and Texas Honey Tea with Deep Eddy Sweet Tea vodka. I stopped by on a recent Tuesday night with discounts on all Texas spirits and brews. I ordered a pint of Bombshell Blonde ($4), as it was the only Texan brew on tap, as suggested by bartender Michelle.

Regulars, there for Michelle’s birthday and likely because the bar is geared as a chill hang spot, sat along the well-lit bar. Other than the suspect musical selections (although I am partial to Iggy Azalea’s banger “Work” there is no reason for it to play twice in one evening), the crowd was animated but tame, a great combination, which only grew in size as the night progressed.

A visit to Lost Bar wouldn’t be complete without a gander at the snack and full-on meal options. Although the order of individual nachos ($11 with chicken) was tasty, the kitchen should consider a sturdier chip to hold the beans, cheese, olives and tomato, but that really is my only quibble when it comes to the rather extensive menu of insane bar food and flat-out delicious sandwiches. The Pub Club (usually served on toasted sourdough, but Michelle convinced us to go with wheat) was fresh and filling at $10 with fries, but the signature Chubby Melt was as impressive on paper as when placed in front of our group.

Although an engineering degree is probably not required to assemble this sammie, there is something to be said for keeping this beast together, considering so many parts of it could literally go wrong. Here’s the selling point, and no, there’s nothing diet-friendly about it: “Two grilled cheese sandwiches on sourdough married by a half-pound ground Angus patty with secret sauce and grilled onions and mushrooms in the middle!” There’s even a warning on the sammie’s addictiveness, and an option to up the ante with jalapeños and spicy aioli. I ordered mine medium (because they do ask how you’d like it prepared, bonus points for that), and was pleasantly surprised. It’s manageable, it’s buttery, it uses fresh onions and mushrooms, and it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. I had a few bites before it was packed away to become dinner later on in the week. It’s that rich.

We burned off a few of those excess calories with some Crown cornhole, and a very brief game of giant Jenga (note: sandals and blocks of falling wood don’t mix), as more patrons milled about. My second Bombshell helped cleanse the palate of the Chubby and the tunes (streaming from the internet jukebox in the wall by the entrance) got a bit louder. This isn’t your buddy’s couch, but you won’t have to deal with yappy dogs, bitchy significant others or cramped quarters. Add Lost Bar & Grill to your football rotation this fall and work up an appetite to tackle that Chubby Melt.

Lost Bar & Grill

12730 NW Military Hwy
(210) 437-4873
thelostbar.com

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