I wasn’t expecting any tangible rewards from writing this blog so I was surprised to be invited last week to a restaurant preview party for bloggers. The preview was for a new Riverwalk restaurant named Lüke. The restaurant, described as a Franco-German brasserie, is under construction in a Embassy Suites hotel building on Houston Street across from the Book Building and Acenar. This is a really pretty part of the Riverwalk with lovely views.
I was hesitant to attend the event by myself since I didn’t know anyone. Fortunately a friend was able to come with me and we had a lot of fun. We ate a sampler plate of food and then toured the restaurant space. The food included several types of sausage, fried quail, and shrimp with grits. Dessert was bread pudding. The sausage included Texas wild boar sausage, bratwurst, garlic sausage and bockwurst. The chef said the boar came from Lockhart. The quail was fried in a batter made with blue sage honey.
The menus we were given had dinner entrees ranging in price from $10 for bockwurst to $26 for jaeger schnitzel. The shrimp and grits was priced at $22. An express dinner is $23 for soup, entree and bread pudding. The lunch menu included an express lunch of soup and entree for $15.
Although all the food was good my favorite dishes were the grits and the bread pudding. My friend and I couldn’t stop talking about the delicious grits. They gave us a recipe for the Shrimp & Grits but it doesn’t look like something I would actually attempt at home. (I lean more toward the 5 ingredients or less style of cooking.) The grits were made with mascarpone cheese and the shrimp was seasoned with Creole spices and andouille. A large selection of bottled beer accompanied the food. I’m not a beer drinker so Bennie, the sommelier, recommended a Monchhof Riesling from Germany that I really liked.
The most enjoyable part of the evening was talking to the restaurant staff. The names were easy to remember since three of the five were named Steve. The staff all seemed to really enjoy their jobs and also seemed to really love their employer. Chef Steven McHugh was assisted by sous chef Stephen (Estaban) Rodriguez. Stephen Jeffcoat was the bar manager and beer expert.
After eating we donned hard hats and Victor Cervantes, the general manager, took us on a tour of the restaurant. Construction has taken several months longer than expected and they still had a long way to go. Zars Pools is building a $2 million water feature that will be inside and outside the building on the Riverwalk side. A 40 foot seafood bar will be constructed on the Houston Street side of the restaurant. Floor to ceiling windows showcase the River and nearby buildings. Victor noted that he had purchased 370 chairs for the restaurant. The Embassy Suites’ interior wasn’t the usual soaring atrium but a lower ceiling version Victor called the Waldorf model.
The owner of Lüke is John Besh. The chef currently owns six restaurants in New Orleans including the original Lüke. The company has plans to open additional restaurants in San Antonio and other large Texas cities.
I am looking forward to seeing the finished restaurant and the water feature. And I am excited about having a new German restaurant in town for my husband’s relatives to try when they visit during the Christmas holidays.