Biga on the Banks – San Antonio

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March 1, 2007
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Southwestern, Asian

203 S Saint Marys St # 100
San Antonio, TX 78205

Phone: 210-271-7603
Website: http://www.biga.com/

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Sesame, corn, and white bread (complimentary)

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Espresso Martini ($8.50)

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Appetizer I: Chicken-fried Gulf oysters, squid ink linguine, Swiss Chard, pancetta, mustard hollandaise ($13)

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Appetizer II: Sweet potato, tomatillo and tortilla soup, cilantro sour cream and corn crisps

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Entree I: Seared natural scallops, on riso pasta with gruyere, crispy pancetta, hydroponic basil, citrus butter sauce ($32)

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Entree II: Roasted beef hanger steak, boulangère potatoes, jammy tomato, broccolini, house-made steak sauce, béarnaise

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Dessert: Toasty Chocolate Nib Waffle with Mexican hot chocolate, orange-vanilla marshmallows, strawberry compote, sweet cream

Prior to my visit to San Antonio for business, I consulted Gayot for restaurant advice. Biga on the Banks received a highly respectable score of 16 and was not overly pricey to expense so I went ahead and made a reservation. My colleague and I were seated at a table for four overlooking the famed Riverwalk, which is a cross between the Venetian in Las Vegas and Disneyland.

My colleague relaxed before dinner with an Espresso Martini. She is a boozehound and Starbucks addict so this drink rocked her world. In fact, she raved about the martini for the rest of our stay in San Antonio. Since I do not drink my calories, I sampled the breads. The cornbread was the best of the bunch, but would have been much tastier warm; bread ought to be toasty for the butter to melt. The sesame and white breads were so-so.

I ordered the Chicken-fried Gulf Oysters for my appetizer. Each oyster was deep-fried to a golden crisp and sat atop a bed of squid ink linguine, Swiss Chard and pancetta. A creamy mustard hollandaise topped the oysters and thick balsamic vinegar was drizzled on the plate. The squid ink added a somewhat sweet and salty flavor to the pasta. I liked how the savory pancetta contrasted beautifully with the pasta and oysters, but the hollandaise was too rich for my taste.

Whereas I ordered a la carte, my colleague chose the three-course Winter Fare menu for $35. Her appetizer was the sweet potato soup. Even though she is not a fan of sweet potato, she finished the entire bowl. She was glad the soup was more tortilla soup than sweet potato bisque.

For my entree I settled on the seared scallops. Each scallop was placed on a slice of sweet grilled tomatoes and garnished with a strip of fried bacon. The scallops were huge and delicate, but a bit over-salted, especially with the bacon. The citrus butter sauce was excellent, but not strong enough to cut the dish’s overall saltiness. The accompanying risotto was simple and delicious.

My colleague enjoyed her entree immensely. She loved the rare meat coupled with the oven-baked potatoes. She sadly avoids carbohydrates in her everyday diet, so this meal was a special treat.

For dessert we shared the Toasty Chocolate Nib Waffle with Mexican hot chocolate, orange-vanilla marshmallows, strawberry compote, sweet cream. The waffle with strawberry compote reminded me of Sunday brunch at Swarthmore, which is not a good thing. The marshmallow was tough, but good once I was able to bite all the way through–the orange flavor was subdued. The highlight was definitely the hot chocolate. It was intensely rich and absolutely decadent. I enthusiastically drank every last drop.

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