Chef Andrew Weissman, known for his restaurants Le Rêve, Osteria Il Sogno and The Sandbar Fish House and Market, has created a restaurant experience that transports diners to a refined French auberge set firmly in the Texas Hill Country.
Plan to arrive at the La Cantera Resort and Spa before dusk, if possible, to enjoy Weissman’s newest restaurant Signature. Surrounded by a lush landscape and illuminated by the golden light of the setting sun, the restored building that houses Signature has been transformed with white plastered walls, reclaimed wood, limestone, antiques and wagon-wheel chandeliers, mounted animal heads, and a posh bar that together convey a rustic mansion in the countryside.
Signature’s reclaimed wood came from Joske’s, a bygone department store here in San Antonio, while its limestone fireplace mantle was salvaged from an old property in France. The eclectically elegant ambiance reflects Signature’s cuisine, rooted in French traditions with South Texas accents to appeal to a variety of diners. Chef Weissman is a four-time James Beard Award finalist who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park in 1996. He uses seasonal South Texas ingredients for his New American food, including quail, pheasant and house-made charcuterie. The highlights of the new summer dinner menu include Diver sea scallops, charred baby octopus, great northern white beans, littleneck clam broth, roasted Branzino, crab cake, and crispy skin snapper. The restaurant’s kitchen garden supplies fresh tomatoes, herbs, and other fresh vegetables beautifully composed with each dish.
“Inspiration for the summer menu is totally weather-driven” Weissman said. “It’s difficult to imagine eating heavily when it is so hot outside.”
One refreshing option on Weissman’s menu is the Strawberry Smash, an aptly-named cocktail made up of strawberry-infused Buffalo Trace Bourbon with cool hints of lemon and basil, making it perfect for a warm summer day. Infused strawberries allow the drinker to discover different flavors with each sip, and the award-winning bourbon speaks for itself.
Feel free to pair the summertime beverage with a delicious appetizer, such as the lobster and snapper spring rolls. Stuffed with julienned vegetables, mint, and basil, and topped with tahini sauce and grilled lemon, this is sure to become a favorite among Signature frequenters. Other new appetizers include the Chip ‘N’ Dip, with ahi tuna, crushed avocado, soy wasabi and eel sauce, which Weissman said is an excellent divergence from traditional South Texas fair.
“I recommend that people try our ‘Chip ‘N’ Dip’ on their next visit as it is a really great play on the standard format of chips and salsa in San Antonio,” Weissman said. “It is similar to an extremely popular dish that we had on the menu at Sandbar.”
For dinner, one of the most appetizing offerings from Weissman’s kitchen is his Black Tea-Smoked Pekin Duck Breast, a crispy, tender entrée served with black Chinese rice, Asian cabbage, and a refreshing daikon slaw. There is nothing quite like the unique flavors Weissman is able to blend together in his entrées, and this one is truly no exception.
Together with executive chef Laurent Rea, formerly of L’Etoile and the Fig Tree, and new general manager and hospitality veteran Michael McClellan, who came to Signature from Hotel Emma’s Supper, Weissman ensures the restaurant offers both the fine dining experience of a one-star Michelin restaurant, yet offer flexible options for more casual experiences.
Since its launch in 2016, Signature has introduced a weekend brunch and weekday happy hour service. Brunch is offered Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 am to 2 pm and includes French-style omelets, Southern-inspired tenderloin chipped beef on a biscuit, New England-style lobster rolls, and even a dressed up breakfast burger for a varied brunch menu.
Tuesday through Saturday from 4:30 to 6 p.m, the “Signature Hour” offers a choice of $5 select beers and $7 glasses of wine and cocktails that changes weekly. Happy hour menu items available during the new Signature Hour include charcuterie, Prince Edward Island mussels,
petite burgers and venison carpaccio, priced anywhere from $5 to $15.
“The brunch and Signature Hour have definitely expanded our demographics to include a younger segment of the population, especially at brunch,” Weissman said. “The Signature Hour has created a situation where people can have fun with the menu without having to commit to a full meal or extended dining experience.”
Signature was nominated for Best New Restaurant in the 2016 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, and Texas Monthly listed Signature as one of the best new restaurants of 2016. Signature serves dinner Tuesday through Sunday; reservations are suggested.
By Iris Gonzalez
Photography by Janet Rogers