My fiance and I had our first experience at Lüke on the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio last night. I thought I would share my thoughts on this new John Besh venture.
Lüke is set on the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio as a part of the Embassy Hotel. It has an old school brasserie feel, complete with belt and pulley ceiling fans. The restaurant features a beautiful bar that was very well stocked. It's very difficult to make a new restaurant feel like an old brasserie, but I enjoyed the atmosphere nonetheless.
Our server was fantastic. He knew and understood the menu, and was able to give some good suggestions. He also was very well versed in the preparation of the food and was able to answer many questions throughout the night about the meal. If ever he didn't know the answer, he checked and immediately returned with the answer. My water glass stayed full, the table stayed clean, and I hardly noticed when he refilled my glass or picked up a chunk of bread that had fallen onto the table. We also had the pleasure of meeting the General Manager and had a long conversation with him regarding the restaurant.
This is the most important part, right? It certainly didn't disappoint. While we weren't able to try as many dishes as we would have liked, we were able to get a good idea of the food. First was the bread, which was a very nice soda bread served with whipped butter. The bread reminded me of paozinho, a hard Brazilian bread. The rest of the dishes we ordered are as follows:
Pâté de campagne of wild boar - The pate was wrapped in caul fat with bay leaves. The texture was on the firmer side (which I liked), and the flavor was really good. It was served with butter crostinis, stone ground mustard, house made cajun pickes, pickled watermelon, and sweet relish. Great way to start the meal.
Pressed cochon de lait sandwich - This is my favorite item from the menu at the original Lüke in New Orleans, and I was extremely happy to see it was included on the menu here. It is served with cherry mustard and french fries that are divine. The pork on the sandwich was extremely tender, with the wonderful flavor of a true cochon de lait.
Red beans and rice with a fried pork chop - My fiance ordered the express dinner special, which included a cup of crab bisque (which was quite good), a huge plate of red beans and rice with a fried pork chop, and bread pudding (all for $23!). The red beans and rice were very spicy and very flavorful. Personally, I prefer a higher ratio of beans to rice, but the taste was great. The pork chop, however, was nothing short of heavenly. The pork itself was so tender, you might be able to convince someone that it was in fact veal. The breading was seasoned very well, and the combination of the chop with the red beans and rice was a wonderful dish to eat on a cold night.
Bread pudding - For me, bread pudding is almost a spiritual experience. It is, without a doubt, one of the most decadent desserts ever concocted. In true Louisiana form, this particular specimen was topped with a bourbon caramel sauce, candied pecans, and vanilla ice cream. The sauce itself was a bit too sweet for me, and the candied pecans pushed it over the edge. I prefer my bread pudding to be on the less sweet side, but we cleaned the bowl out, so it certainly was still quite good. The pudding itself was the perfect consistency.
In summary, Lükeon the Riverwalk is a very unique place with a great menu that offers a wide array of delightful treats. The atmosphere and food are great, but just a tad below the bar set by the original Lüke in New Orleans. The impeccable service made for an enjoyable evening, and I have a feeling we are going to be visiting this place often. If you are in San Antonio around meal time, head down to the Riverwalk and check this one out. 8.5 out of 10