I have been wanting to try RoMo’s for a while now, ever since my friend Jessica recommended it. Last night, Jessica and I finally managed to coordinate our calendars and meet at RoMo’s for dinner.
Located on Culebra Road outside of Loop 410, just past the Ingram intersection, RoMo’s is located in a strip mall that looks like hundreds of strip malls in San Antonio and the rest of the US. But what is going on inside RoMo’s is anything but usual.
Once inside, the decor is clean and modern, with the work of local artists tastefully displayed on the walls. Culinarily speaking, Chef Rob has a clear vision for his food and a firm hand on the kitchen.
We began with the soup of the day, chicken slider soup. This is a version of chicken dumpling soup, with shreds of tasty chicken and sliced carrots accompanying small rectangles of dumpling dough that, after, cooking, had more of the consistency of good pasta. The soup was really good and perfectly seasoned. The broth had an excellent chicken flavor slightly sweetened by the carrots and was neither too thick or too salty, both flaws often found in chicken soups. Here Chef Rob managed to bring the chicken taste to the fore.
Next came a couple of selections from the appetizer offerings. The first was the truffle fries, hand cut with black truffle salt and grated parmesan.
The fries were crisp, and the truffle salt and parmesan were nice touches. Overall, this was a good value at $2.95. I was happy to see a dish that uses truffle salt as seasoning (rather than the white truffle oil that many restaurants keep using, even those it’s the culinary equivalent of the butter-flavored salad oil you get on your popcorn at the movies. Ugh.)
My favorite item of the night was the RoMo’s version of arancini. For some reason, I hadn’t previously been able to find good arancini in San Antonio; an arancini should be crisp on the outside and moist and flavorful on the inside, and many of the versions I have sampled in San Antonio and elsewhere are either too heavily breaded or too hard fried, and/or the insides are too dry. Now I know where to go for good arancini. At RoMo’s, risotto balls with mozzarella are panko breaded and fried, then served with red pepper coulis. The risotto was perfect, and the breading crisp and light. The coulis was the perfect accompaniment to bring out the flavors of the risotto and mozzarella. At $8, this was a steal. For some reason, the arancini appears on the online menu, but not on the printed one you get handed to you at the restaurant, so you need to ask for them.
As an entree, the country fried chicken with Cajun gravy is very good. Served with really good, fresh-tasting mashed potatoes, this dish is substantial and very well prepared.
While I liked the dish overall, I do wish the Cajun gravy had come with a bit more zing. I like spicy food, and I don’t think that a spicier gravy would overpower the chicken and mash, but rather bring out the flavors even more.
For dessert, we shared a slice of RoMo’s pastel impossible. The RoMo version differs from other versions I have had, which if I remember correctly were usually composed of chocolate cake and vanilla flan.
The RoMo’s version features a date cake that reminds me, in its consistency, more of a cooked English pudding. I was hesitant to order it, as I have been on the sampling end of several culinary offenses that included cheap or chewy or miscooked dates. But this cake was really good. The vanilla flan custard was creamy and delicious, and the date cake was moist and really, really good. A toffee sauce complemented all of the other flavors. This very, very rich dessert was a terrific end to an excellent meal. I would have paid a good bit more for it than the $4.95 charged.
Overall, the dining experience was excellent. Nothing felt rushed, the service was top-notch, each course came out reasonably quickly, and the food was excellent.
RoMo’s has a website (http://www.romoscafe.com) and is also on Facebook, and the daily specials are usually posted on the Facebook site. If you haven’t tried RoMo’s yet, I suggest you do so soon, because the prices are really reasonable for the quality of the food and service, and because one day this place will probably make a successful move to downtown or Alamo Heights, and you will end up paying more. So go now, and remember to try the arancini.