Imagine a place where Peruvian and Asian flavors sing a delicate duet resulting in a wonderfully whimsical palate parade of fascinating flavors (so much alliteration). If you can imagine this place, then you are probably eating at Botika.
Botika is located at the Pearl Brewery complex near downtown San Antonio, TX. For those of you not familiar with the the Pearl, it used to be one of the largest breweries in San Antonio before it closed down. Over the last couple of years, the area has been revitalized into one of the hot spots of culture and food for the city. Geronimo Lopez, the Executive Chef, has experience working in restaurants around the world and, recently, was the Executive Chef and an instructor at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) in San Antonio. Suffice it to say, he knows what he is doing.
My wife and I landed there after getting a kid-free night and decided that Botika would be a great spot to spend the evening. When we arrived, I decided that we would get some food, I would do a wine review, and life would be good. Luckily, we were able to enjoy the last weekend of Culinaria in San Antonio, so this will be a wine and restaurant review today.
We ended up sitting at the bar because we didn’t want to wait for some of the other people to clear out. By we didn’t want to wait, I mean that I was starving and was about 13.7 seconds away from eating my coat by the time we walked in the door. When the hostess asked where we wanted to sit, I’m pretty sure that my wife had to translate the grunting noises that were coming from me. Once seated, we decided to just go with the recommended event menu:
Ceviche Levante: Gulf fish, ginger, garlic, aji amarillo, beet & potato “causa”
Bon-Lai Salad: Green papaya, cucumber, tomato, carrot, and cashew salad.
Wine Pairing: Junmai Sake
I started with the Ceviche. Oh…dear…God. That was probably the best Ceviche I have had in my life. The ginger and the garlic snapped together, the beet and potato “causa” added a great earthiness to the dish, and the fish was firm, flavorful, and not overly acidic. My wife (who hates ceviche) said that it might have converted her. The Bon-Lai salad was also amazing. As an avid vegetable eater, this is a perfect appetizer for anyone who wants a vegetarian alternative to their appetizer. My wife, actually took the bowl away from me after a few bites and didn’t let me pick off of it for the rest of the course. That’s okay though, because I got my revenge with the rest of the ceviche!
Unfortunately, I was not able to get the name or details of the Junmai. Junmai sake are rice wines made without adding additional alcohol to the wine. There are three different kinds of Junmai, which increase in quality depending on the type. If you’re interested in learning more about the different kinds, then stop by Sake World to see their quick guide. I can say that I’m not a fan of sweet Sake or ones with a heavy melon taste. This Sake was balanced, not too dry, and paired well with both of the dishes.
Chancho Frito & Chaufa: crispy cubed pork, edamame, nappa cabbage, green onion, corn nuts, anticuchero aioli
Tacu Tacu & Tonkatsu: Beef tenderloin milanese Japanese style, rice & beans cake, katzu glaze, salsa criolla
Wine Pairing: 2015 Butter Chardonnay, California & 2014 Tilia Bonarda, Uruguay
I started with the Tacu Tacu & Tonkatsu. The beef was like butter. It fell apart on my fork and I would have been happy if that was all they gave me on the plate. The rice and bean cake was something that I had never had before and was also fabulous. The outsides were nice and crisp and, when combined with all the other ingredients, balanced out the fattiness of the beef and the acid in the salsa.
The Tilia Bornada paired brilliantly with this meal. The dark red of the wine looked like it could have been part of the glaze on the dish. I got red cherry, slight red apple, and oak notes on the nose. The tasting confirmed the cherry and alluded to raspberry. It was dry, the finish was tailing towards medium length, and it was perfect with the meal.
Next I tried the Chanco Frito & Chaufa. The pork was very well done and the vegetables blended very well together. I had forgotten about the inclusion of corn nuts by this time but was very happy with the textural contrast and flavor that they provided to the dish. The only thing I can criticize about this dish was the aioli. Don’t get me wrong, it was very good. I just think there might have been too much. My wife thought it was the perfect amount. I’ve been married long enough to know I’m probably wrong here.
However, I can’t be wrong about the wine (because my wife won’t argue on this topic) so I tried the Butter Chardonnay (by JaM Cellars). It looked like your average Chardonnay and had great clarity. I smelled citrus as the dominant aromatics (lemon, maybe peach), which was confirmed when I tasted it. It was dryer than I expected and had a short, vanilla-esque finish. Once again, Botika hit a home run with pairing this wine to this dish.
House Made Sorbets: Amazonian fruits, ginger lace tuile
Coconut Sticky Rice: Jack fruit syrup, compressed melons
Wine Pairing: Late Harvest Torrontes
I started with the sorbet…I tried to finish with the sorbet…my wife smacked me in the middle of Botika. That’s the greatness of this sorbet. The best of the three types was the passion fruit and I’m sure I could have eaten that all day. The ginger tuile added a great way to cleanse the palate when switching between flavors and provided a way to cut the tartness of the sorbets. The coconut sticky rice was also very good. However, if I had to choose a weak dish for the night, I would say that it is this one. Mostly, because I’m not really into very sweet things and this was near the edge of my spectrum. The flavors were very good and the melons gave a nice contrast to the rice but, overall, it was a little too sweet for me.
This is also a course where I didn’t get the specifics on the wine. The Torrontes was smooth and had good peach and floral notes and a medium finish. It was a great choice for these desserts. It’s just me failing as a wine blogger to get specifics. Lessons learned for the next restaurant review.
Whatever the hell Sake they paired with the appetizers: Enjoy Again!
Tilia Bornada: Enjoy Again!
Butter Chardonnay: Enjoy Again!
Whatever the hell Torrontes they paired with the appetizers: Enjoy Again!
Botika: ENJOY AGAIN!!!
Seriously though, this place was great. I highly recommend you stop by for a meal if you have the time. Trust what the Chefs recommend and you can’t go wrong. Botika, if you read this, I will be more than happy to stop by again and sample another menu. (I know this is a shameless ask…I don’t care. The food’s that good.)
So, have you tried Botika? Any fusion restaurants that everyone should know about in your area? Have any ideas for other places that I should try? Let me know below in the comments!