Will Travel for Food

Texas Restaurants Worth Visiting on the Road This Summer

Silo
Silo (Photo By John Anderson)

Silo

In San Antonio

1133 Austin Highway

210/824-8686

Mon-Thu, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11:30am-2pm, 5:30-11pm

Chef Mark Bliss consistently offers some of the best and most creative food in Texas from his small and inviting restaurant. Located on the old Austin Highway just outside of Alamo Heights, Silo's building has been a gas station, a farmer's market, and for the past few years Bliss' restaurant. The interior designers have come up with an entrance that is just right. The second you step out of the elevator running up the silo, you feel comfortable and coddled. Directly in front of you is an open kitchen allowing you full view of the goings-on. The 30 or so tables provide modern, comfortable seating. Staff are friendly and very knowledgeable. As a pleasant plus, Mark really knows wine and how to marry it with his food.

Silo's cuisine defies a simple label. Suffice it to say that you will experience imaginative food that, while resolutely American, is also fresh and idiosyncratic. One of my favorite dishes is the Chicken-Fried Oysters on the Half Shell with spinach, applewood-smoked bacon, tart apples, and mustard hollandaise ($8.50). The oysters are cooked perfectly -- plump and juicy -- and the accoutrements blend beautifully. The restaurant recommends Tattinger champagne ($30 for a half bottle) as an accompaniment, but I prefer the Zardetto Prosecco ($6.50/glass, $24 per bottle), an Italian sparkling wine with more acid to stand up to the fried oysters. The best wine combo for this dish is the Grand Regnard Chablis ($58), a bracing, almost electric, chardonnay from the Chablis area of France that makes a perfect, if expensive, mate to the food.

Another great dish is the scallops ô la plancha on roasted-garlic mashed potatoes with saffron ($20). This is a showcase for Bliss' ability to procure the best ingredients from the best purveyors. The scallops are big and tasty and come on a heavenly batch of potatoes. The Zilliliken Riesling Halbtrocken ($7/glass, $24 per bottle) from Germany is very fruity and delicate with only the slightest hint of sweetness. If you want a bigger wine to match with this dish, consider the Trimbach Gewurztraminer ($7.25 per glass, $29 per bottle), a beautiful wine with an aroma of roses and lychees and a long, exotic, fruit-filled finish.

One of my favorite day trips from Austin is to combine a visit to the McNay Art Museum (6000 North New Braunfels Rd., 210/824-5368) with a meal at Silo. The museum is one of the best small art museums in the U.S. with a particularly beautiful impressionist collection. Both restaurant and museum can be visited in nice casual attire. And they are only five minutes apart. Feed your soul and your stomach.

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