Friday, July 4, 2008

The best meal ever!!!!

Really, I can't imagine any food ever tasting good ever again in comparison. I had wanted to get something flambe ever since I was a kid. I'd always seen it done in movies and on TV and always wanted to be the one with the flambe dessert. But the problem with that was that all the restaurants in town that do that are fairly expensive. So I told Dad that what I really wanted for my birthday was the dessert. We didn't even have to get food if we couldn't afford it. But Dad surprised me and got me dinner at Bohanan's. It's this steak place here in San Antonio, downtown and across from the Majestic Theatre. Dad said he'd fixed machines in the area and always smelled Bohanan's and thought it smelled really good. But it's one of the pricier restaurants in San Antonio, so we've never been there before. Well, when we first got there, they asked if we had a reservation and I have to admit that I'd wondered if we should get one, but then decided against it. I guess Dad thought the same thing. But we were there just shortly after 5:00, so it was still early. They said they had a table upstairs for us, but we had to go around a corner and up the elevator to the second floor. The guy also said something that neither Dad nor I could make out. I have no idea why. He didn't have that strong of an accent, and the accent he had a was a Hispanic one and one I've heard everywhere around town, so it's not like it's one I'm unfamiliar with. But he was talking really fast and kind-of slurring his words, like he'd given the directions so many times that he barely knew what he was saying anymore. Dad couldn't make it out either, but we understood, "elevator" and "second floor", so we walked down to the elevator and pushed the button for the second floor. When it stopped, we got out and we were in this really elegant room that looked like it was for private parties or something. There was no staff in there whatsoever, even though we walked around and snooped a little trying to find someone. But Dad thought he saw a button on the elevator that was for rear doors, so we got back on and pushed the button and sure enough, rear doors opened and there was a restaurant there! We stepped out and they asked if we had a reservation. We said no. They said it wasn't a problem, but took our last name and asked if it was a special occasion. I said no, but I must have hesitated because they didn't believe me. So I just specified that I didn't want anyone to come and sing to us or anything to embarrass us. They said they didn't do that, which was a huge relief. But they escorted us to a small table for 2, where the guy seating us sprinkled rose petals on the table. Well, I'm guessing that in addition to it being very pretty and elegant, that it's also a signal to the staff that there's a birthday as everyone would come by and say "happy birthday" to me. How they knew it was me and not Dad, I don't know! But they were very nice and gave us a couple of books that we thought were the menus. In fact, they were the wine list, which was pretty extensive. If I liked wine, I'm sure I'd be thrilled. But then this man came by who was dressed like all the waiters in Paris, with the slacks, white shirt and apron, and he wanted to take our drink order. Both of us just wanted water, so he left and brought back our drinks. Then, this guy came by in a suit that we assumed was the manager, which was really nice as we were getting a lot of personal attention. He brought by the menus and a starting course of candied jalapenos in cream cheese (way creamier and softer than any cream cheese I've ever had) with those crisp bread slices that are for bruschetta. The bread was so light and buttery that I could have eaten it by itself. It was just a bonus to have the cream cheese, which was better than any other cream cheese I've ever had. They must make it themselves as I can't imagine any store selling anything that good. Really, candied jalapenos sounded really disgusting. I mean, I'd heard of candied peppers and didn't think anything of that. I guess I just didn't think of jalapenos as a possible dessert pepper, but it was surprisingly good and we at it all way too quickly. The manager came by and asked if we wanted more, which I did, but Dad didn't want to fill up before the meal and he wanted us to save room for dessert. Really, it was so good I was thinking about it all that night as I tried to sleep and all the next day.

The manager then came by and told us about the daily specials, which included escargot, which he said was so good that even people who don't like escargot will like theirs. Some of it sounded really good and I wouldn't have minded trying it, but I was set on getting something small, like soup, so that I'd have room for dessert. Then, the guy came back later with a tray full of steaks, when he described their "premium" steaks that aren't available all the time. Well, I thought they sounded fantastic, but the cheaper ones were $79, whereas the better ones were $95. I'm sure they're wonderful, but the cheaper steaks were $35 and I thought that was high enough. At that, though, Dad thought the steaks on the menu were cheaper than he expected and he wanted to get a steak. Well, they're famous for their steaks. How could we pass that up? So we both decided on steak. I felt I needed to let Dad know that you had to buy the side dishes separately, to which he seemed to understand, until he asked me what came with the steak, when I had to tell him that nothing came with them. You ordered the side dishes separately. Oh. The side dishes all sounded great, but none of them were anything intimidating. In fact, it was all basically fancified versions of "comfort food". By then, we had decided what we wanted and the manager came back, by which time we realized that he wasn't the manager, but our waiter. He was just wearing a really nice suit, so we assumed he was a manager, but all the waitstaff were dressed the same, somehow elegantly carrying those huge serving trays in one hand above the tables, even the women who had to do it all in high heels. The restaurant itself was beautiful, too. We were very impressed by them.

Anyway, as we waited for our steaks, they also brought by a small basket of 3 different types of bread along with a dish of the creamiest and lightest butter I've ever had. It was amazing. Of course, we chatted for a while before our steaks came. That took a while as it's a nice restaurant and they take their time to prepare the food. When the steaks arrived, we realized there was no salt or pepper on the table, and I didn't want to ask for it, afraid that was just something that people there just didn't do. So I tasted the steak and found it to be somehow perfectly seasoned and amazingly good. It needed nothing at all. I've had some really good steaks before, too, especially in Paris. In fact, when I got back from Paris, I didn't like the steaks in America as no one seemed to prepare them properly. But this one was the best steak I'd ever eaten. It was perfectly juicy and cooked perfectly all the way through, no dry spots or anything. Really, if their cheap steaks were that good, I can't imagine how the $95 ones must taste. The side dishes were amazing, too. We got potatoes au gratin, which was mine and Dad's favorite. Also, the waiter recommended the mac and cheese, which was really good. I'm not sure what kinds of cheeses were in there, but I'm sure there were some good French cheeses in there somewhere. It was really good. AND, the steaks were humongous. The side dishes were very filling and very rich. It was just wonderful.

Of course, the highlight of the meal had to be the dessert. I wanted cherries jubilee. I mean, I've always loved cherries. I wanted a dessert with cherries. It took a while to set up, but the waiter came out with a cart that had a burner on it. He had all the ingredients set to the side in little dishes, that he added to the saute pan one at a time. First, it was butter, which he melted. Then, it was a little brown sugar. Then, he squeezed what looked like lemon juice into it. He drained the cherries, which had been marinating, and poured them in. There were 2 liquids that he poured into one container before adding to the pan. Then he stirred it and dipped the pan and it caught fire. It was a pretty big fire and very flashy. He calmly stirred it, which I'd have been afraid to do as I'd be afraid I'd burn myself. He said, "The bananas touch the ceiling. Scared me the first time I did it!". Well, those were pretty high ceilings, too. Can't imagine that. Then, he stirred it until the fire went out, then spooned it over a couple of small scoops of ice cream. He gave us 2 spoons so we could share. I mean, the ice cream itself was just plain vanilla, but was the best ice cream I've ever had. I mean, it blows everything else out of the water. No comparison at all. I could have had that all by itself. But with the cherries, it was just heavenly. Dad and I were there trying to spoon all the melted ice cream out of the bottom of the dish when we were done. All in all, it was the best meal I've ever had by far. I never imagined there could be food that good ever, even though I've had some pretty good food living here in San Antonio and also in my travels. I never knew what I was missing. Nothing can ever taste that good ever again I don't imagine. I can only hope I can go there again and try some of their other food as everything sounded fantastic. They even had "Valrhona chocolate cake". I'm sure I spelled that wrong, but I'd love to try it sometime. All in all, it was just a perfect evening. It was so relaxed as they served it all out in courses, so we could take our time. They were very friendly and not snooty at all. They made it very easy and fun to be there. The service was the best. I think every time I even took 2 sips of water it was refilled. All in all, it's a really great place to celebrate a special occasion as they do their best to make it as memorable as possible. I'd go again in a heartbeat.