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Sustenio's New Southwestern provides a trip down memory lane

Photo: Photos by Veronica Luna, License: N/A

Photos by Veronica Luna

A new variation of Sustenio's bacon-wrapped wild boar, served with a tamale.

Photo: , License: N/A

Mouth-watering ceviches from Sustenio.


Sustenio's décor, with wood-block floors, massive marble and wooden countertops, and acres of stainless on view in the open kitchen, could sustain almost any style of contemporary cuisine; there is nothing blatantly Southwestern about it. But we fell right into the hit-parade trap by ordering a red snapper tamal with Thai curry masa ($28). If nostalgia is one's goal, this is a lovely trip down memory lane: the masa is subtly spicy, the snapper beautifully integrated. Yet the "salsa Veracruzana" consisted only of black beans and cremita, and I had expected more — something to push the banana leaf envelope. Loved the seriously caramelized banana, however.

In the case of a Texas venison loin ($29), it was the understudy yucca-huitlacoche hash (sound familiar — at least in concept?) that nearly stole the show; the venison, though its CVap (vapor) oven-abetted texture was a revelation, seemed almost too sophisticated, especially in contrast to a lusty chipotle barbecue sauce. Nevertheless, the plate was beautiful, and nothing of it remained to help usher out the last of an exceptional bottle of Belle Gloss 2010 Meiomi pinot noir ($42). For a more full-bore experience, try instead the bacon-wrapped wild boar loin — and a bigger wine.

Just as there are fancy appliances for cooking, there are devices such as the Anti-Griddle for instant freezing. Gilbert has one. But fresh fruit sorbets can easily be done the old-fashioned way, and our three-flavor sampler, special kudos to the carrot-mango, was the perfect way to exit an evening marked by professional service and fully assured cooking. For more thrills, though, we think we would take advantage of an $85 multi-course ceviche-bar tasting menu with paired wines available. You know you'll be getting a ceviche first course, but everything else is chef's wild card, allowing both of you to stretch. A new main menu with less masa and more Gilbert is said to be on its way. •

Sustenio

17103 La Cantera Pkwy
(210) 598-2950
eilanhotel.com

 

The Skinny
The classy restaurant in the somewhat pompous Eilan Hotel & Spa focuses on modern Southwestern cooking — at least for now. Superstar chef Stephan Pyles has set the tone.

 

Best bets
Most ceviches, luxurious pork belly, bacon-wrapped wild boar. Since the menu will change, pick the most local-sounding dishes.

 

Hours
Dinner 6-10pm Sun-Sat

 

Prices
Dinner $26-$39

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