I am sitting at the counter at small Cullum’s Attaboy, attempting not to weep while Christopher Cullum, the affable chef and owner, contemplates the fate of my omelet. The hollandaise sauce predestined to be its crowning splendor has actually broken, and the cook in charge appears on the edge of misery. Cullum looks my method. “It’s going to be a bit,” he states. Yeah, I figured. Ten minutes later on, however, the cook is all smiles as she moves a new omelet topped with just-made lemony hollandaise onto a plate. I take a bite. The texture is someplace in between outrageous and celestial, a wonder of completely set egg and God understands just how much butter. My eyes close involuntarily. I have actually had extremely couple of omelets as great as this one, and never ever one I took pleasure in more.
The dining establishment where this landmark occasion took place is not in Paris or Provence and even Périgord. It remains in San Antonio, simply 2 miles north of the Alamo, in an area of small companies and modest houses, on a narrow street beleaguered by relatively everlasting roadway building and construction. At 44 years of ages, Cullum, a self-taught chef and San Antonio native, has actually owned or been associated with a number of dining establishments, consisting of Tucker’s Kozy Korner; a dynamic fried-chicken dining establishment called Cullum’s Attagirl, which is still going strong; and an earlier, burger-oriented variation ofAttaboy Five months old, today Attaboy combines his double enthusiasms for the Alamo City and French fare and is his most enthusiastic and individual effort to date. As for the name, Cullum’s late dad, Jim, created it some 3 years back, when he discovered that his fifteen-year-old child wished to enter into the dining establishment organization.
To discover Attaboy, you need to look out. The just indication is a sandwich board on the deck of a little transformed home. Just inside the door is a deli case filled with attracting offerings: plump escargots in butter-filled shells, mason containers of velvety chocolate mousse, fat pieces of cheesecake. On task outdoors kitchen area and prepared to take your breakfast or lunch order is Cullum, in a soda jerk– design hat, plus 3 or 4 cooks who function as servers. (Initially the dining establishment used supper, and Cullum is intending to restore it when organization chooses back up after the normal summertime downturn.)
Scan the menu with your phone, make your options, and pay (the last tab consists of a 20 percent personnel gratuity). Then sit, either at the counter along with the kitchen area or in the comfortable dining-room. As you await your food– maybe with a traditional mixed drink, beer, or glass of white wine from a list of some thirty options from California, France, and Germany– appreciate the ornamental touches that perk up the easy area: a remarkable antique brass lighting fixture over the front door, a 1980 map of San Antonio that came from the respected Texas designer O’Neil Ford Sit back and delight in music playing quietly in the background– dynamic conventional jazz numbers that originate from old radio broadcasts that frequently include Cullum’s dad, who was a distinguished cornetist. For years atrioventricular bundle remained in routine rotation at locations on theSan Antonio River Walk In reality, the brass light over the door was saved from among those areas, and on a close-by wall there’s a poster-size picture of jazz fantastic Louis Armstrong with Cullum’s dad and grandpa, who was likewise an artist.
If you come in for breakfast, eggs are the draw. Actually, eggs are the star of the menu (“We utilize these substantial, brown, pasture-raised eggs,” Cullum informs me). You can have a great eggs Benedict, in addition to wonderfully damp rushed eggs on a buttery piece of toasted brioche with a sophisticated topping such as shaved truffles or maybe house-made crema with a smidge of caviar. If you desire something sweet, you can choose pancakes with genuine maple syrup or, even much better, Attaboy’s contemporary variation of a midcentury American cooking fad:Spudnuts For a number of years, this now-defunct nationwide chain gave billions of the wonderful potato-enriched doughnuts. Here the delicious beignet-doughnut hybrids show up in the kind of neat spheres under a snowfall of powdered sugar.
If you appear at lunch, you may desire a sandwich (egg and bacon, egg and cheese, egg and smoked brisket– you might find a pattern here). Or you may desire a hamburger. The latter is a great option if you delight in an easy meat and cheese combination with a tart home sauce (me, I likewise desire some mayo, lettuce, and tomato). Unfortunately, my hamburger patty ended up medium-well, an unfortunate fate for great hamburger from Peeler Farms, a venerated purveyor situated in Floresville, thirty miles southeast ofSan Antonio
If you remain in an especially great state of mind or have an unforeseen factor to commemorate– possibly you simply landed a task, possibly you simply gave up a task–Cullum’s is prepared with traditional mixed drinks, bubbles, and itty-bitty fish eggs. Prices start at $1.50 a gram for smoked trout roe and peak at $6 a gram for royal osetra caviar. A “caviar setup” of blini, chives, and crema is simply $7. The costs are low since, Cullum states, “I desire this community to consume truffles and caviar! I wish to debunk all these components.”
My individual option for indulgent dining at Attaboy, however, is not caviar however an order of those escargots from the deli case, baked till their shells overflow with a substance butter that consists of Scotch, garlic, and parsley. I likewise assisted my buddies wolf down an order of Greek- influenced taramasalata, the traditional lemony dip, here made with treated carp roe mixed with French bread, lemon, scallions, and olive oil till it’s light and fluffy. Cullum states he discovered to make it from a lady he referred to as Miss Salazar at La Louisiane, then the premier French dining establishment in San Antonio: “It’s generally their dish.”
What Attaboy considers breakfast is when the kitchen area buckles down about protein, both terrestrial and oceanic. My fragile Southern go to pieces meunière showed up sautéed in butter and kicked up with Cullum’s outstanding additions of champagne and juniper-and-thyme-cured lemon peel. Diver scallops came deftly scorched. I liked the set of scary-big prawns much more, adrift in a heady egg-enriched butter sauce reinforced with a deeply tasty, extremely minimized fish stock, or glace de poisson. If you remain in the state of mind for red meat, the option is easy: the bavette steak, a cut that originates from near the bottom sirloin and is fairly tender. Mine was great and rosy-centered, however next time I’m investing an additional $5 for a shot of the glace de viande, a beef-bone decrease that resembles demi-glace on steroids.
Should you by some wonder have space for dessert, there’s a fluffy chocolate mousse or a thick New York– design cheesecake, based upon Cullum’s mom’s dish (“We kids constantly got cheesecake on our birthdays”). But you’ll kick yourself if you do not buy the drifting islands (îles flottantes), trembling scoops of meringue adrift on vanilla-scented crème anglaise concealing a dab of blueberry compote. If clouds were edible, they would be îles flottantes.
As I left the door on my last check out, dabbing blueberry compote from my sleeve, I feared of Cullum’s happily contrarian principle. There’s no car park and even much of an indication. It’s counter service, and there’s an automated gratuity. Yet he’s serving major French food, not simply casual restaurant fare boosted with a huge bar program. It’s non-traditional and it’s uncompromising. If I resided in San Antonio, I ‘d appear for that omelet a minimum of when a week.
This post initially appeared in the November 2022 concern of Texas Monthly with the heading “French Revolution” Subscribe today.