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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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Food & Drink

Olmos Park’s Latest Cocktail Bar

Photo: Jessica Elizarraras, License: N/A

Jessica Elizarraras

Get familiar with Park Social boss David Naylor


Sure, there are plenty of ways to get your drink on around Olmos Park. Grab a brew at Bharmacy, a mixed drink or two at the Thirsty Camel, sangria and ’tinis at Tribeca, margs at Panchito’s and Marylou’s, and vino galore at Chez Vatel, but the area’s been dry in one respect—classic cocktails. But that will change very soon as the folks behind Folc roll out Park Social, the next phase of their three-joint project inside the former Ciao Lavanderia, within the next few weeks. And it’s 26-year-old David Naylor’s turn at this cocktail lounge’s well.

Naylor, who met his Folc/Park Social/Alumina partners through the Texas Cooks’ Co-Op, a chef’s collaborative dining group, will man the bar’s program solo at least to start. But he’s bringing more than five years at the shaker to Park Social, an intimate space that still holds a few remnants of its Ciao days, where he’ll serve classic cocktails with a twist.

Naylor’s bartending history starts at age 20, when the San Antonio native catered to dance-happy Stone Oakers at Coco Chocolate Lounge & Bistro. After a year there, he made his way inside Loop 410 and worked under Olaf Harmel at Bar Du Mon Ami. This helped reel Naylor into bartending as an art form.

“It all kind of started with a drink made by Olaf … I had stumbled into Mon Ami after going through the telephone booth and the very first drink he made for me was a Vieux Carre,” Naylor says of the New Orleans classic made with equal parts whiskey, cognac and sweet vermouth, along with Benedictine, Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters. “I never really knew cocktails could be so layered and complex—it opened my eyes.”

Naylor later made his way to Sustenio inside Eilan where he’s spent the last two years, while also doing occasional stints at Dorçol Distilling. The self-described six-year sophomore (Naylor still hopes to earn his bachelor’s in business from University of Texas–San Antonio someday) is the consummate student, taking on stage shifts or internships locally at area faves such as Jeret Peña’s Brooklynite and elsewhere. He recently completed a brief stage at Chicago’s Aviary, where he worked with sous chef Micah Melton and ice chef (yes, an ice chef) Hope Clarke. The bar’s beverage director, Charles Joly, was named the Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year this summer. It’s a pretty BFD.

“Going to the Aviary taught me how to streamline [my process],” Naylor says of the lounge, where tasting menus are encouraged, and it’s not uncommon to find a $30 cocktail.

As for what Park Social’s program will look like, patrons can expect a healthy mix of cocktails that draw inspiration from his previous experience and other local joints.

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4 Ways to Get Your Drink/Grub on This Week

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Saturday, September 20: Open the Taps, an organization that supports all things craft beer in the Lone Star State, will host a bottle share and fundraiser at catering outfit and restaurant Cruzan’s. Bring that vertical stash (the same brew via the same brewer from different years) you’ve been dying to try, or that rare bottle you’d been saving for a special occasion, and discuss Texas beer laws with Open the Taps members as they gear up for the next legislative session. $5 suggested donation, 6pm, 1320 Guadalupe, (210) 712-3064, openthetaps.org.

Saturday, September 20: Cured’s Young Gun series continues with its second Midnight Family Feast as sous chefs William Rivera and Ashby Cowart present two suckling pigs, two ways. Sides include huitlacoche mac and cheese with grilled bok choy salad, crudité of micro veggies, corn, borracho beans and Benton’s bacon-fat tortillas, and asparagus with Maggi aioli. Wash it all down with Jester King Brewing pairings. $100, midnight, 306 Pearl Pkwy, Ste 101, (210) 314-3929, curedatpearl.com.

Sunday, September 21: Inspired Occasions hosts the second of five fall events for the collaborative dinner series known as Alamo City Provisions, with chefs John Russ (Lüke San Antonio), Pieter Sypesteyn (The Cookhouse, Where Y’at Food Truck), Michael Sohocki (Restaurant Gwendolyn, Kimura), Rico Torres (Mixtli) and Elise Broz (Biga on the Banks), plus cocktails and wine pairings by Jesse Torres (Mixtli). Stop in for a champagne reception, followed by a four-course dinner, and a dessert buffet of profiteroles, chocolate and pistachio cream cookies, tropical mousse and more. The dinner also includes music by Ignacio Gallego and Marissa Bushman of the San Antonio Symphony. $110, 6pm, The Inn at Craig Place, 117 W Craig Place, alamocityprovisions.com.

Tuesday, September 23: Master the art of hand pies, savory and sweet, with Hannah Smith, Central Market cooking school instructor. The hands-on class will feature recipes for gouda apple hand pies, chicken chimichurri empanadas, eggplant parmesan calzones and cherry pop tarts with icing. $60, 6:30-9pm, 4821 Broadway, (210) 368-8617, centralmarket.com.

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

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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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