It’s hard to find a true farm-to-table restaurant in any city — and to find one in a city with such a taste for national chains is especially impressive. Gwendolyn was an amazing experience start to finish — and it even beat my Houston farm-to-table fave, Haven. The restaurant strives to go back to the time when food was honest. They did it .. and it’s delicious.
The concept of the restaurant is to do everything “old school,” using what they had and doing as they did before the industrial revolution. They have no motorized cooking appliances, no fryers.. not even a freezer. And, every perishable ingredient served comes from local farmers and was raised the old-fashioned way.. not in a factory farm environment. There is a true commitment to purchasing from local farms and ranches because, as Gwendolyn’s website says, “money spent in your community stays in your community.” I love that! And, I love that the place is named after the owner/chef’s Grandma. She sounds like one tough cookie.
J and I were the first ones in the restaurant (we got there at 5:30 pm basically as the doors opened since we had to be at a concert later) as we waited for our friends who were visiting town. The waitstaff is really friendly and conversational. We started off with a glass of wine and tried the homemade milk bread while we waited. The butter was, of course, fresh made and was artfully decorated with a little green sprig and rolled in poppy seeds.
Our friends arrived and we all decided on the 3-course meal. Two of us began with the creamy polenta with crispy kale and demi-glace, and the other two of us had bacalaitos with shredded cabbage. Do you know what bacalaitos are? I had no idea, actually I didn’t know until I started writing this blog entry. I just ordered it because I like cabbage. Bacalaitos are crispy cod fillets. This is something I would NEVER order (if I knew what it was), but I am so glad I did! They were fabulous!
For the main course, the group was divided with two of us choosing the braised venison and sweet potato gnocci and two of us selecting the seared quail and lentils. I love lentils and I have never been able to make them properly, so I frequently order lentil dishes when we are out. The entire dish was wonderful. I had some of J’s venison. Usually, I just don’t like venison because it’s a bit gamey and tough… I don’t know what they did to this venison! It had a delicate flavor and was oh-so-tender. Actually, I was so distracted by the delicious meals that I forgot to take pictures!! So unlike me, I know. I did get this photo of my friend’s empty plate, proving that, indeed, this meal was delicious.
And lastly, the third course. My favorite – dessert! The two options were almond tangerine savoir with tangerine ice cream and a dark dark chocolate tart. Again, the party was split and of course I got the chocolate tart. It was the perfect little sliver of a tart. The tangering savoir and ice cream was also very tasty.
We had to run to the Mariachi Vargas concert, but I could have stayed and enjoyed the lovely Gwendolyn all evening. Lovely staff, cozy restaurant – and fabulous food! And, the owner/chef did say hello to us and even held the door for us as we left. I guess at Gwendolyn (ahem… unlike other restaurants we’ve recently visited) you don’t have to look important to get great service . The menu changes daily and we are looking forward to visiting again!
I can’t say enough good things about Gwendolyn.
152 E. Pecan, #100
San Antonio, TX 78205