Brussels sprouts are all over restaurant menus these days. Who in San Antonio gets them right?

click to enlarge Universal City's Gather Brewing pulls well-loved Texas flavors into their brussels offering. - NINA RANGEL
Nina Rangel
Universal City's Gather Brewing pulls well-loved Texas flavors into their brussels offering.
It’s finally feeling like winter in San Antonio, and a quest to use food to combat cold and flu season yielded a fun fact. Namely, that Brussels sprouts, beyond their recent star status on menus, are a fiber-rich, cold-weather superfood packed with immunity-boosting vitamins C and A as well as folates, phytochemical and natural antioxidants.

The cruciferous, cabbage-like orbs are having a moment in San Antonio, whether for health reasons or the fact that people have finally realized that they’re not the gross things we thought they were as kids. Either way, it seems like time to get familiar with the iterations offered in and around the Alamo City.

A multitude of local eateries are offering their takes on the veg — and they aren’t the mushy, bitter Brussels from childhood.

Of course, avoiding that nastiness means getting the equation correct: perfectly crispy leaves with a tender center. Further, it helps to play up the complexity of le petit chou chou by generously seasoning them and tossing them with complimentary ingredients.
The iconic Brussels from now-defunct Lüke — with sliced green apple, almonds, honey and queso fresco — and longtime sherry haven The Monterey’s version, with sweet chili paste and crushed peanuts, come to mind.

Brussels lovers may delight in the news that even with those two exemplary restaurants gone, others in SA are treating Brussels with the respect and care they deserve. As an ingredient, are they a flash in the pan or a lasting addition to the dining scene?

Either way, we’re here for the mini-cabbage renaissance that’s taken hold of the culinary scene, and we’re happy to highlight three local spots that get them right.

Gather Brewing Co.
Many items on this new brewery’s food menu feature Asian flavors, but the Brussels are quintessentially Texan. Balsamic vinegar and pomegranate glaze, smoky bacon, goat cheese, and Texas pecans makes for a well-loved — yet multi-faceted — bite that satisfies.

The generously seasoned sprouts are part of the new Universal City-area brewery’s “small plates and shareables” menu, but we’ve yet to share anytime an order has come to the table.

Bar Loretta
Southtown’s Bar Loretta’s entire menu is a direct reflection of chef Paul Petersen’s personality: fun, a little bit quirky and a little bit rock ’n’ roll. Since opening the eatery last summer, Petersen’s Brussels have boasted two separate amalgamations of flavors — both successful and memorable.

For summer, Bar Loretta tossed its fried sprouts with bright chili-lime seasonings and chamoy — a popular Mexican seasoning made of dried chilies, salt, sugar, citrus and stone fruit such as apricot. The chamoy lent an explosion of complementary flavors to the nutty veg. For fall, the restaurant’s demure combination of maple glaze, toasted pecans and queso fresco wholly delivered on flavor, playing up the sprouts’ earthiness.
“I love Brussels sprouts. They’re so fun, versatile and shareable,” Petersen said. “Their earthy characteristic lends to pairing with a lot of different flavor profiles.”

Back Unturned Brewing
For those who take their veggies with a hefty application of sugar and spice, near-downtown suds factory Back Unturned Brewing offers herb-roasted sprouts tossed in spicy honey mustard.

The addition of crispy, thick-cut bacon adds a saltiness, balancing the flavors of the Brussels and heightening the flavors of the beers they’re meant to accompany.
Spicy honey mustard may not seem an obvious dressing for such an earthy ingredient — that’s a lot of flavors being brought together — but this spot does it right.

Editor's note: an earlier version of this story noted a now-changed menu item for Gather Brewing's Brussels.

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