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Fearless Critic restaurant review
San Antonio
Casual restaurant

Sun 5:00pm–9:00pm
Tue 11:30am–2:00pm
Tue 5:30pm–9:00pm
Wed–Fri 11:30am–2:00pm
Wed–Fri 5:30pm–10:00pm
Sat 5:30pm–10:00pm

Features Date-friendly, good wines, outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


Uptown Central
218 E. Olmos Dr.
San Antonio, TX
(210) 828-3141
Bistro Vatel
When the owner’s at the stove, there’s no better unfussy French around—usually

San Antonians, accustomed to tacos and cheap Mexican plates, are reluctant to part with pesos at lunch; one topping out over $50 had better be bueno. Or très bien, given the location at Bistro Vatel.

For example, at a recent visit, a bacon-wrapped country pâté served with two mustards and cornichons; a daily special of “bluenose” bass with lemon risotto; a pear and almond tart; one glass of Domaine Ott rosé. The pâté? Pitch-perfect. The poisson? Beautifully plated but sturdy and without distinction—as was the risotto. The tarte may have been yesterday’s as the crust was limp…no, not $50.

Yet when chef-owner Damien Watel is in the open kitchen of this quirky boîte, embellished with the chef’s exuberant interpretations of contemporary paintings, there is usually no better classic French cuisine in town. (Recent reports suggest a little slippage, however.) Dover sole, the real thing, is superb; duck confit reminds us how good this now-knee-jerk staple can be. Coq au vin? Mais oui. Service from long-time servers, down to the busboy, is attentive and discreet. And the wine list, French almost to a fault, has some older vintage Bordeaux that might merit the consideration of connoisseurs—especially as the corkage fee is punishingly, and purposefully, steep.

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