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Review: Meadow Eatery salutes the South at former Tre Enoteca

September 28, 2018

Note: This is a Just a Taste review, which the Express-News does soon after a restaurant or bar opens to give our first impressions.

The life of Meadow Neighborhood Eatery + Bar can be measured in days. But its history can be measured in years.

Owners Lindsey and PJ Edwards met at Meadow at The Alley on Bitters eight years ago. Except it wasn’t Meadow then. It was Bin 555, where they worked together for chef Jason Dady.

They went on to get married. Dady went on to open and close two more restaurants in the space, most recently Tre Enoteca, which shuttered in June.

Meadow opened Sept. 22 with fresh paint and floors, a lounge framed in reclaimed wood and a broad new Southern accent. PJ Edwards works the kitchen as he has for places like McCrady’s Tavern in South Carolina. Lindsey Edwards runs the front, drawing on her past life as Dady’s general manager.

Together, they’ve forged an intriguing union of Texan and Southern influences.

On the menu: Of all the kitchen arts, pickling is among the least appreciated and the most effective. Tart, sweet, crunchy and colorful, pickles energize everything they touch. And they touch a lot of the menu at Meadow.

Forget fried green tomatoes. Let’s get behind pickled green tomatoes, which made cameos in a brisk housemade pickle sampler with cucumbers, green beans and mushrooms ($4) and in a freewheeling grilled okra plate with fried shallots, pecans and jalapeños ($8).

Pickled peppers worked their way like parade confetti into an earth-tone dish of shrimp with creamer peas and cabbage ($12) that struck a robust alliance between land and sea. Those peppers also joined a hallelujah chorus of shaved fennel, roasted peppers, pickled butternut squash and more in a lively 10-vegetable salad with cornbread croutons ($10).

Even collard stems got the pickle memo, forming the base of a chow chow relish over properly twangy braised greens. Those greens were just the opening act on a plate with something even better: fried chicken with whorls of chile-dusted batter, three pieces with armor like pleated tempura and centers cooked clean and juicy ($16).

Fried chicken skin played unwitting accomplice to the only hitch in this early foray to Meadow, tucked inside a toasted country biscuit with the barest schmear of pepper jelly that left the whole thing high and dry ($4). The brunch menu forecasts more biscuit action, with the promise of gravy.

Meadow hit key points on the Southern food roadmap with studied ease: moist cornbread and honeyed lard with pimento cheese ($4), a perfectly broiled grouper with creamy grits ($22), a solid chess pie with smoked coca nibs ($9) and crunchy cornmeal fritters as playful as state fair food with hearts of creamed corn and indulgently sweet marmalade spiked with ’nduja salami ($7).

The bar, overseen by Nick Martinez, came through with a bittersweet — in all the right ways — aperitif called 281+Bitters with gin, Aperol and bitters ($9). A double-rum La Piña ($12) could have gone the way of the tiki but dialed back the pineapple sweetness with cold coconut water and lemongrass.

Either one — or both — would make a suitable toast to this address’s storied past and its potential to become one of the strongest players in San Antonio’s ongoing Southern revival.

Location: 555 W. Bitters Road at The Alley, 210-281-4214, meadowsantonio.com

Hours: 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday

Mike Sutter is a food and drink reporter and restaurant critic. Read more of his stories on mysanantonio.com and ExpressNews.com, our subscriber site. | msutter@express-news.net | Twitter: @fedmanwalking | Instagram: @fedmanwalking

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