No denying that the dining epicenter of San Antonio is at Pearl – many of the city’s top, trendy and acclaimed chefs have spots there.
The newest addition to this culinary mecca is Cured, a hip spot that features house-made charcuterie, salumi and some delish farm-to-table choices, all under the skillful guidance of Chef-Owner Steve McHugh.
Cured’s freestanding building at Pearl dates back to 1904 and was the original Administration Building that included the president of Pearl’s office. The inviting restaurant sports beautiful, high, tin-embossed ceilings, plenty of picture windows all bordered by limestone walls. The space is airy but cozy, contemporary but old world – a welcoming spot that invites you to spend some serious time. And, it’s an invitation you should accept because Cured offers some serious food.
At first glance, the menu appears fairly straightforward – a Daily Soup, a Blue Ribbon Burger, Shrimp and Grits and a Pig Cheek “Poutine,” for example. Sounds like a meat lover’s dream. It is. And for some, that might be a bit daunting, but live a little! Jump out there and try some of Cured’s over the top delish dishes. You’ll be so glad you did.
On my first visit (and second), I ordered the beautiful crab cake which is served cold with very little filler and delicately garnished with avocado, seasonal fruits and tiny beets. On this most recent visit though, I dove into the menu with all it’s guilty pleasures and never regretted one single bite!
For starters, a tasty flash fried gnocchi with a dab of aioli…a perfect amuse bouche. The next two dishes came together—each served in a large, piping hot cast iron pot. One with the Pig Cheek ‘Poutine” and the other with the Shrimp and Grits.
The menu doesn’t go into great detail about either of these dishes. For instance, on the Pig Cheek ‘Poutine’ the only description is ‘nuff said.’
Well, I beg to differ. This incredible dish deserves its own paragraph!
Unless your appetite is quite large, the Pig Cheek Poutine is a great dish to share. Its fork tender pork cheeks are surrounded in a delicious brown gravy that is topped with melted cheese, seasonal pickled veggie bits… all sitting atop a bed of French fries. If it sounds outrageous, it is – outrageously delicious!
The shrimp and grits takes the Cajun classic to a new place. Gone are the traditional shrimp placed around the perimeter of a dome of grits. This creation features roasted piquillo peppers stuffed with marscapone and goat cheese in a hearty sauce chock-full of Tasso ham, diced tomatoes, onions and shrimp.
Yes, the shrimp are diced and in the sauce, not sitting atop the grits. A beautiful variation of a southern classic.
The bar menu is enticing like the signature ‘Cured’…made with Lemon Thyme Moonshine and Cava, and there’s a nice selection of craft beers. The wine list is extensive and creative. No predictable brand names here, and I love that! With a trusted chef like McHugh, I had no doubt the wine choices on that list were carefully made to compliment his food. Our request for a dry rosé was met with a very affordable choice from Provence that paired perfectly with our rich entrees.
My only regret is that I didn’t save room for dessert. McHugh’s Beet Winkie with red beet cake, whipped meringue, Meyer lemon curd and chocolate ‘soil’ sounded pretty darn good. Next time!