I’M JUST MAD ABOUT SAFFRON I know I’m in the company of grown-ups when I can say “tapas bar” and nobody feels compelled to crack, “What? You ate at a topless bar?” At the moment, my favorite tapas bar is San Antonio’s Saffron, a casual, three-month-old spot done up in rich autumnal reds and browns. I like owner Josh Duncan and chef Tito Aybar’s menu not just for its global scope but also because it makes astute wine recommendations for many selections. (By the way, tapa means “lid” and comes from the practice, in pre-air-conditioned Spain, of putting a piece of bread or other food on top of a glass of wine or beer to keep flies from plunging to a boozy death.) At Saffron—where there are no flies—most people choose an array of appetizer-size dishes, perhaps a sampler of pâtés (bottom: chicken and sun-dried tomato, chunky duck-pistachio, and brandied rabbit with raisins), a bit of meltingly tender lamb cassoulet made with navy beans and Spanish chorizo, and a small bowl of Saffron’s irresistible salty tapenade with toasted baguette slices. Then they sit there transfixed, trying to decide which one to sample first. Daily entrée specials like grilled white salmon with caviar beurre blanc satisfy folks who want a “real” meal. Me, I’m still toying with the tapas.
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