Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Sad Day for San Antonio Foodies: The Lodge Restaurant Closing 12/31

Chef Jason Dady (@chefjasondady) tweeted today, “120 more days of awesomeness and kicking ass. The Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills last day of service will be Dec 31st.” That intake of breath you heard around 3:30 this afternoon was collective hyperventilation. San Antonio Express-News dining critic Ed Tijerina (@etij) chatted with Chef Jason this afternoon and posted to the Food Flash blog within a couple of hours.

Shortly after his first post, Chef Jason tweeted, “Fine dining is on life support and I don't want to be here when it dies. We are gonna finish strong and then move on #greatthingsinfuture.” While greatly saddened by the closure of my favorite restaurant, I find my excitement growing at his next venture.

We’ve dined at The Lodge almost since it opened; it impressed from the very first. The wait staff always presents us with one work of art after another; the dishes look as pretty as they taste. Each one features a range of textures; he first delights us with delicate flavors then surprises us with bold ones.

Chef Jason also carefully listens to his customers. After a few visits, I mustered the courage to comment on the hard wooden chairs. The Lodge encourages a relaxing dining experience, and the unforgiving seats didn’t complement the meal. Sure enough, the next time we visited, the seats sported a cushion.

A fabulous artist with food, Chef Jason is always gracious and open, willing to share tips and techniques with us noodlers. A couple of years ago, he offered several Dady’s Underground Kitchen (DUK) events at private homes. We snagged the first one, and it was one of the finest meals that we (and eight of our lucky friends) have ever eaten. Chef Jason brought one helper (who served and washed the copious dishes), and they prepped and presented five courses. In between courses, he invited us into the kitchen to watch him work. Most chefs would bristle at the presence of rank amateurs in their kitchens. But Chef Jason shared his tips and ideas and even sipped a glass of wine as the dishes percolated.

Whenever we see him, he always takes a moment to thank us for coming and explain a little about the dishes we’re eating. He has even invited us back to the kitchen a couple of times!

He’s planning a huge Celebration Dinner on New Year’s Eve, as well as a special dinner in October to commemorate The Lodge’s tenth anniversary. I would recommend making reservations soon.

One thing I know for sure…even after 12/31, Chef Jason will remain one of San Antonio’s leading chefs. Next week, he and other prominent local chefs (including Andrew Weissman and Rebecca Rather) are cooking a benefit dinner for Foodways Texas.

Thanks for all the birthday, anniversary, and special occasion dinners, Chef Jason, and I’ m sure we will see you very soon!

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