Monday, April 5, 2010

Tuesday, 3/23/10 - Boudro's on the Riverwalk

Date: 3/23/10
Restaurant: Boudro's on the Riverwalk
Location: On...the...Riverwalk? 421 E Commerce, which means nothing when it comes to finding it. Their website gives directions as follows: "The closest access from downtown is via the east side of Presa Street: enter through the Kangaroo Court Building 'alley' or through the 'Pasaje Flores.' Take the stairs to river level."
Executive Chef: Unknown.

Well, after the decadence at Las Canarias, we hoped our second Riverwalk dining experience of the week would also live up to the hype (and the pricetag). We left feeling somewhat ambivalent, and somewhat like tourists in our own town. Though very little was done poorly, I didn't get a huge WOW either. But maybe you'll disagree. Let's revisit the night, shall we?

Boudro's is tucked snugly away. I suggest following the directions above. And then I suggest throwing up your hands in frustration when you still overlook it. And then I suggest asking one of the friendly and omnipresent Riverwalk guides, and they'll tell you how to really get there.

Restaurant sweet restaurant. (If you are walking up and down the Riverwalk searching for a big red circle over the restaurant, please stop. That was just my mad MS Paint skillz in action!)

We were seated inside, to my somewhat relief, although claustrophobics are not recommended either way. The menu is pretty extensive and focuses on seafood and steaks with a Cajun flair. Assume everything on the menu is spicier than it indicates and you'll be okay.

Service fail! Our waiter started out attentive and helpful, but got progressively more absent and unconcerned as the night went on, barely saying a word of parting as he dropped off our bill. Perhaps we didn't seem like a big tipping demographic? Regardless, his change in demeanor was a big reason why we left feeling unappreciated and unenthusiastic to return.

But on to the food.

Our drinks, their signature prickly pear margarita and a strawberry caipirinha for me. I liked both at first sip; the margarita was tangy if not groundbreaking and the caipirinha had an interesting infusion of serrano pepper to give some heat along with the strawberries, basil and lime. Pleasant burn. It just got old after a bit, and getting a spicy drink with a spicy meal wasn't very well-thought-through on my part.

My appetizer, a bowl of duck and Hill Country jalapeno sausage gumbo. I enjoyed this, as one who has tried and failed to make a tasty gumbo. The flavor was deep and rich, just barely avoiding the bitter aftertaste of a ruined roux.

Tavis's appetizer, wild field mushrooms with polenta and goat cheese. He gobbled this with great enthusiasm. It was a nice blend of flavors.

We decided to get one seafood and one steak entree, since those are the house specialties. I enjoyed my black angus filet; it had a spicy, tangy bordelaise sauce that worked well. The corn pudding was delicious as well, much drier than I expected (I was gritting my teeth for grits, a pleasant surprise). However, the vegetable medley tasted as if it had been chopped, steamed, and presented unseasoned. No flavor development. Snoozey, back to the meat!

Tavis's seafood bonanza, the "grilled seafood platter." Almost everything here was very well done and flavorful. The scallop especially was juicy and sweet and perfect. The exception was the crawfish fricassee, which I expected to like and unfortunately found far too salty. It was unpleasant to say the least. But the rest was a great-tasting and healthy sampler of some of the better seafood in San Antonio, including lobster and shrimp as well as the aforementioned two items.

My dessert, bread pudding with a whiskey sauce. Dense, sweet, rich, delicious. I still have not met a bread pudding I didn't like.

Tavis's disappointing duo of sorbets. Skip this, barely worth status as a palate cleanser, let alone the last note of the meal.

Returnability: I have to say, I doubt we'll ever be back. We enjoyed most of the food, even though it was all borderline too spicy for Tavis. But between the crowded entrance and ambiance and the increasingly-lackluster service, I will be just fine taking my money elsewhere for steaks and seafood. Your experience may vary, and I hope it does. Oh well, the quest for separating Riverwalk diamonds from the rough continues.


Anonymous said...

Boudro's stands head and shoulders above the local competition.

If you find better flavor within 100 miles, please do share!

Megan and Tavis said...

Anon - That's a big blanket statement. Do you want better Cajun flavor, or just what I consider better flavor? I haven't been to any other Cajun-influenced restaurants in San Antonio, so I'm not at all qualified to offer a rebuttal there.

But out of the places in San Antonio we've found more pleasure in our meals, Citrus was the first place I thought of. Also Silo, Bin 555 and Tre Trattoria. And I'm barely into the year--I have 39 restaurants on my list still to compare!

Regardless, if you'd read my blog, you'd know that my complaint with Boudro's was not in fact with its cuisine but with its lackluster service. We felt like unappreciated tourists, plain and simple. A good example of how a poor FOH experience can overpower even a tasty meal.