by Jennifer King
(San Antonio, TX, USA)
The Brasserie Pavil is a wonderfully authentic French bistro on the north side of San Antonio. When you walk in to the restaurant, you'll be immediately charmed by the dark woods and the large mirrors hanging on the wall. A chalkboard by the hostess stand reveals the day's wine, appetizer, and entrée specials. The only thing that makes it obvious that you aren't in a sidewalk café in Paris? Pavil doesn't allow smoking.
The service at Pavil is fantastic -- warm and informational, without being intrusive. Plus, the waiters never so much as smirk at my terrible French accent as I try to pronounce my menu selections.
The word to describe the food at Pavil is luxurious. I adore going there for lunch and having a Croque Madame sandwich, which is a griddled ham and Gruyère cheese concoction that's drizzled with a lush Morney sauce and topped with a fried egg. It comes with your choice of fries, fresh fruit, or the soup of the day. Yum! I also love the hanger steak at Pavil -- served in a red wine marinade, it's incredibly tender and juicy.
If you absolutely must stay on your diet for a visit to Pavil, I recommend a homemade soup and salad pairing -- you'll still get the savory feel of the restaurant, without any meal-ending guilt.
Pavil's food is so indulgent that it's hard to leave room for dessert, but if you wear your belt on the last notch, you should be able to manage. And you'll be glad you did -- the chocolate cake with apricot filling and vanilla sauce is smashing, as is the hot fudge sundae with almond brittle. These desserts aren't sized as massively as most American desserts, but they are so rich you'll want to split them anyway. You can finish up your leisurely meal with a French press of coffee, which is presented at the table with an adorably wee pitcher of cream.
I always make a point of visiting the Pavil Brasserie when I have out-of-town guests, and I buy gift cards to the restaurant for Boss's Day and other gift-giving occasions. I've never met anyone who isn't delighted with this restaurant!
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