Dinner at NAO

After a hot summer we are finally being treated to cool mornings and beautiful evenings. This is the best time of year in San Antonio, it’s energizing and inspiring. I love having my window open as I write and just being outside without feeling like I’m going to melt. It made the weekend really enjoyable.

Saturday my husband and I went to NAO, a new restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America. Yes we are lucky enough to have a CIA campus in our city. The restaurant is still in its “soft opening” phase so they are offering a three course prix fixed menu for only $24.00. What I loved most about this deal is that it was three real courses of food. I am not a fan of the three course meal that includes dessert as one of its courses. I like dessert, but I don’t have to have it. I am much happier having one bite of dessert than ordering my own or just getting a dessert wine.

We enjoyed drinks as we looked over the menu

I love watching chefs at work

They were very busy that night, in fact we had to have dinner at 6:00. So it was more of a late lunch really.

For my first course I ordered yellow ceviche “Tiradito”

 It had a sweet potato puree under it and was a bit brothy. The ceviche was fresh and bright and the broth, or “tiger’s milk”was delicious. It was a fantastic choice and set my expectations high.

Lately my diet has undergone some pretty dramatic changes. The fish is nothing new. I rotate between vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian. however I have been eating birds lately. Just to warn you guys I did have duck as one of my courses so look away if you don’t want to see it.

For my second course I had octopus mojo isleno. The octopus was marinated and char-grilled. Now I am not a fan of charred or grilled food, but this was lightly char-grilled and it really worked with the dish. It was served with hearts of palm, arugula and a cilantro pesto. The arugula was a little bit bitter so it went nicely with the cilantro and the hearts of palm.

Back to the part about me eating birds. The reason is not really important since the end result is the same. I am surprised that I wanted to eat birds myself, but I don’t believe in depriving myself of something that I want so I started eating chicken and wild game. I would not normally eat these foods in a restaurant since the portions are usually really big. I ordered the duck in this case because it was a small portion.

Duck confit with dried fruit tamal and mole castellano.

The duck was tender and the mole was very fruity. I like moles but I didn’t like this one very much, I found it a little bit too fruity. As Far as I am concerned Jesse Perez, a local chef, is the mole king. I still enjoyed the dish I just didn’t dip into the mole as I ate.

Dessert

I wish I could remember what this was. I know it had bananas in it and that it tasted really good.

 The unique thing about NAO, as opposed to the other two CIA restaurants, is that the food showcases the flavors of Latin America. I am so happy that we have an exciting new restaurant in our city. If you have not had the chance to eat there yet do yourself a favor and go before they stop doing this tasting menu.

  • wow – what a meal! so fancy and bold. 🙂

    • The flavors were so delicious. Can’t wait to go back.