Southern Comfort on the Eastside
Drive any highway in San Antonio today, and you’ll see several new restaurants being built all over town. Our city is exploding right now, and that is great for our economy, but every new restaurant that puts up a sign seems to be just another chain location. So, when I learned that Chef Jeff Wayne White and his wife Jenn were finally going to open their own restaurant, the excitement and anticipation mounted.
A true culinary power couple, Chef Jeff and Jen White have recently opened Eastside Kitchenette, just off I-35 at N. New Braunfels. The restaurant is housed in an old, wooden, historic home facing the access road. Years ago, the location was once a Mexican restaurant but has been vacant for many years. The project was definitely a labor of love for the Whites, and the rehab took just over a year because absolutely everything had to be redone. It has a homey, farmhouse feel, and the service is friendly and attentive, making diners feel at home immediately.
Eastside Kitchenette is open seven days a week. They serve lunch and dinner on Monday through Saturday, and an outstanding brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, with special brunch cocktails and DJ Kung Fu Sound System spinning eclectic weekend vibes to compliment your Huevos Rancheros.
The menu is a modern take on Southern comfort food, and the portions are more than generous. Lunchtime at Eastside Kitchenette brings a diverse crowd which includes personnel from Fort Sam Houston, business professionals from downtown, as well as laborers and blue-collar guests. Everyone is welcomed warmly.
Weekdays offer their “Blue Plate Specials” and run the gamut from Chili to Enchiladas, and Chicken Pot Pie to their incredibly famous Friday Fish & Chips. There are some outstanding starters on the menu to choose from, and two of the favorites include the Pimento & Bacon Hushpuppies and the Cornmeal Dusted Oysters. Always a lunchtime favorite is Chef Jeff’s Chicken & Dumplings. He makes it with brioche dumplings, mushrooms, and English peas, and it is outstanding. Some of the most popular lunch dishes include their Texas-sized, absolutely humongous, hang-over-the-plate Chicken Fried Steak, served with mashed potatoes and Mexican street corn, as well as the BBQ Meatloaf Sando, served with their Red Chili Gravy on Texas Toast.
Eastside Kitchenette will also feed your foodie soul for dinner when the menu offers heartier fare along with their signature dishes. Start with the Bourbon Braised Pork Belly served over Parmesan Potato Purée, or the Charred Octopus Tacos with house-made salsa verde, apple pico and roasted lime mayo. Every condiment, sauce, and pickle is made in house by Chef Jeff and they complement their specific dish perfectly. Come hungry for dinner and dig into a plate of the delicious Dill Brined Fried Chicken, or even the Mr. Pibb Braised Short Ribs. You will not be disappointed.
One of my favorite things is brunch, and Eastside Kitchenette has mastered this subject beautifully. The weekend wait to get in can be daunting, but it is always well worth the time when you are rewarded with their Maple Bacon Glazed Donuts filled with decadent pastry cream and dusted with powdered sugar. Make sure that everyone in your party orders something different so that you get a chance to sample several different plates.
First and foremost, however, needs to be the Huevos Rancheros. It is eye-roll inducing and features chorizo, black beans, avocado, queso fresco, bacon and eggs served over house-made tortillas. I’m a huge fan of Huevos Rancheros, and I can honestly say that this is one of the best renditions that I’ve ever had. For the Southern palate, try the Fried Green Tomato and Crab Benny, served atop a buttermilk biscuit with soft poached eggs and Frank’s Red Hot Hollandaise. If your tastes run more to the sweet side for brunch, then Eastside Kitchenette has you covered with their Apple Cider French Toast. The Brioche French toast is topped with cider glazed apples, candied pecans, cheddar cheese and drizzled with salted caramel. It is a decadent breakfast that will usher you perfectly toward your afternoon nap.
Eastside Kitchenette has it all covered. From brunch to dinner, there is something new to discover for each meal. Chef Jeff and his fiery wife Jenn have created a place that is warm and inviting. The patio is dog-friendly, and they will even be hosting several events throughout the summer, just like their Crawfish Boil Feasts and Cigar Social Dinners.
When asked why they chose this particular location for their first solo venture, Chef White states, “We live in the neighborhood. We call Dignowity Park home, and we wanted to stay in the neighborhood. We want to be your local bistro and your destination dining choice.”
With such a passion for serving their community and producing outstanding food, I have no doubt that Eastside Kitchenette will be feeding the hearts and the bellies of hungry San Antonians for many years to come.
By Meredith Kay
Photography by Janet Rogers