SAN ANTONIO — Chef Jeff White is essentially over whipping up and working in fine dining experience. He and his wife have opened a new cuisine experience called the Eastside Kitchenette.
The property at 2119 I-35 was a real fixer-upper. White and wife Jenn saw past the mess. They envisioned an American Southern comfort food restaurant, and just two months ago, their dream came to fruition.
"We just wanted a nice comfortable neighborhood restaurant," White said.
They put in a new kitchen, bathroom, tabletops, and a bar. The result is a cozy, homelike venue complete with a stove to add to the decor.
"We wanted everybody to be able to come in here and feel welcome," White said.
White channeled his 33 years of experience at other restaurants like the Boiler House and Tucker's Kozy Korner into the Eastside Kitchenette.
"We're not fine dining. We're not fancy," He said. "We make meatloaf, fried chicken, and chicken fried steak."
White may be oversimplifying his offering. Yes, there are "meat and potato"-style options. There's also the blue crab stuffed on top of fried green tomatoes and creamed leeks. Or customers could have the county fried duck on collard greens and cheesy grits.
The Eastside Kitchenette serves lunch, dinner, happy hour, and brunch. The chicken and waffles are the marquis offering during brunch. The delectable dish features bone-in fried chicken brined in dill and hot sauce over pumpkin waffles with fresh berries, powdered sugar, and syrup.
"I just want to cook what people want to eat now," he said. "I think I've earned that right."
Neighborhood Eats wanted in on his American Southern comfort cuisine, starting with the massive chicken fried steak.
White's version is baptized in flour and batter, and then deep fried. The meat comes slathered in gravy, paired with mash potatoes and Mexican corn. White bastes the corn in butter, chars it on the grill; the corn is then covered in sauce, chile, and chives. The result is a hearty plate that is worth every bite.
"This is what people like to eat three to four times a week," He said.
According to the chef, the "Grandma's Meatloaf" sandwich is a recipe from the 1935 Better Homes and Gardens cookbook; it has White's twist, of course. He cooks the meatloaf in bacon fat and tops it with melted cheese, mashed potatoes, and red chili gravy. The monster sandwich comes with fresh cut fries. Both are sprinkled with Parmesan cheese - messy in the most fatalistic way!
The Kozy Double Double is a great burger featuring two nice sized beef patties with two pieces of cheese on each, dressed down on a bun.
White' mussels are simply worth standing by the stove for a whiff. The dish is cooked in bacon fat, garlic, shallots, chicken stock, and Lone Star beer. He throws in chorizo to amp up the taste.
The mussel mix is served in a bowl topped with bacon, ground chicharrones, cilantro, and feta cheese. Buttered toast sprinkled with salt and pepper crown this dish perfectly, as well as gives the patron a sensational dipping privilege. Neighborhood Eats loves!
Overall: The Eastside Kitchenette is a bright star in the revitalization of the Government Hills community. Chef White and his wife gave up their past ventures to gain a restaurant that packs the power of Southern food with a few delicious detours. Definitely worth the stop for Neighborhood Eats.
Give Marvin your review of the Eastside Kitchenette. If you have a suggestion for Marvin send him an email (Mhurst@kens5.com), tweet (@Mhurstkens5) or post it on his Facebook page.