Thursday, March 11, 2010

Napkin Notes: A Toast to Tost

Posted on Thu, Mar 11, 2010 at 5:18 PM

Jean Francois Poujol's re-imaging of the once-and -former Soleil Bistro & Wine Bar is now complete. We think. To get there, he took the "a" out of Toast to arrive at Tost. Tost Bistro Bar, to be precise. That was the easy part, assuming the name catches on. ("'Soleil' was intimidating to some as a name," says Poujol, reinforcing, perhaps, the trend started by Pavil when it 86'd the term "Brasserie" from its marquee.)

Poujol also began the transformation by contemplating a French-Asian fusion concept but now says "the execution was not there." Au revoir French altogether, then; hello "Creative American" cuisine--but with "European execution." We do not think he means burgers with foie gras, however.

In another change from the previous format, Poujol has also applied for a full liquor license, intending to play up the bar/lounge aspect of theplace. New lighting and sound system, new furnishings...more sex appeal, in other words. Though not quite as high-amp as Coco, he implied. A new pastry chef, with previous experience working with the ex-pastry chef of Thomas Keller's French Laundry and Bouchon, has also been hired to add allure to the menu. So far only dinner, but lunch is contemplated.

Lunch is still off the table at Poujol's downtown restaurant, Le Midi--at least for the time being. Just as San Antonians seem to be francophobes, they are also notorious tightwads at lunch, and there's accordingly some "restructuring" going on. "Nicolas `Lebas, the chef` needs to know downtown better," offered Pujol. He assures us that they're surviving on theater and convention trade, plus the occasional local brave enough to venture downtown in the evening for dinner. Consider this a plea for more brave locals. Oh, and for more downtown housing.

Ron Bechtol

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