Clear Springs Restaurant

Great

Pretty Good ***

OK

No Thanks

I have not done a review in a bit so here we go.

I heard about this little seafood place called Clear Springs Restaurant from a friend on Facebook and immediately went online to check out the menu. Well on the home page was this picture of a giant stack of home-made onion rings, so that made me decide to go and try it all by itself. For those of you that read my blog you know I am a sucker for a good onion ring. I checked to see where they were located and was happy to see that there are several locations and one was not to far from me out 1604 near the Stone Oak area in a little place called Afton Oaks. There is also one in the New Braunfels area but this one was closer to me and I was feeling a little to lazy to do any extra driving (it was Sunday after all).

When you walk in the door you can tell that these people are all about their fish. The inside is a neat mix of fishing cabin and antique store. They have old antique toys, fishing polls, and mounted fish scattered around the rafters and old west movie and TV posters hanging on the walls. The floors, tables and chairs are all wood to give it that rustic feel and it is a relatively spacious place inside.

The menu of course has many seafood items from catfish to fried oysters but also has a few steak selections for the non fish eaters of the world. To start out I of course ordered the onion rings to sample. The waitress was nice enough to suggest a small order so I wouldn’t fill up on them, but to my surprise a small order was huge. I have had some great onion rings in my time and I would count these among them. I would have to rank them in the top five best onion rings I have ever tried. The breading was flaky and crunchy and the onions themselves were easy to bite through and melted in your mouth. They were perfectly seasoned and to be honest I probably could have made a meal off just them but I did come here for fish after all so I placed my order for the main course. I ordered a 3 combo platter where you can choose between several different entree’s. I chose catfish, fried oysters, and fried crawfish.  The platter also came with borracho beans, hush puppies, french fries and cole slaw which to my surprise actually tasted like cole slaw and not that typical bland cabbage with a little vinegar tossed on it that you usually find in Texas. This was creamy and actually pretty tasty. The fries were your standard french fries, nothing special but not bad overall. I guess after those onion rings I would have a hard time judging anyone’s fries. The beans were good and tasted like every other borracho bean you can get in San Antonio, so nothing special. I cant really comment on the hush puppies as my dining companion stole those from me but they looked good. When it came to the three entrees I tried the crawfish first. While I have had better these were pretty good. My only complaint was that they were a tad on the chewy side but it is pretty hard to avoid that. Next I moved on to the oysters and was pleasantly surprised. The breading was crunchy and the oysters were flavorful and melted in your mouth. Now on to the main event, the catfish. Being a southern boy from Florida I have to tell you that I am kind of a fried catfish snob. I have had it cooked many different ways and even cook it myself so it is hard to impress me with catfish. Well I will say that this catfish is pretty good. It has a nice flavor and is seasoned good. It also has a crunchy breading while leaving the fish nice a flaky on the inside. I would not say it is the best I have ever had but it was far from the worst too. I would rate it around a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10 and would definitely go back again. Overall it was a pretty good meal but the onion rings are the clear winner this round. If nothing else I recommend going just to try them.


So if you are in the mood for good seafood in a down home type of settings this is the place to go.

Thanks for reading

JMW

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Max’s Wine Dive

Great

Pretty Good

OK

No Thanks ***

A few months back I went to the annual San Antonio Tamale festival and found a booth for Max’s Wine Dive that had a pretty unique tasting spiced beef with a green chili sauce instead of the mounds of tamales that surrounded me, so I decided to give the actual restaurant a try. Max’s is located behind the Quarry Market just off of 281. When you walk in you don’t really get the “this is a restaurant” feel to it. It looks more like a wine or martini bar. It also looks like it is trying to be a little more upscale than it actually is. The decor and overall feel of the place is slightly pretentious which was a bit of a letdown after reading the menu and seeing things like fried chicken, burgers and fries and Shrimp and grits. I was expecting more of a home comfort food type of feel to the restaurant. Putting that aside I sat down and ordered the fried chicken and mashed potatoes and decided to try some of their French fries while I was waiting. Now you would think that it would be hard to mess up French fries but they somehow managed to get it wrong on several levels. First the person adding the special seasoning was pretty heavy handed and second it seemed like they dropped them in the oil to cook, took them out and let them sit for a few minutes and then dropped them back in the oil to cook again creating a completely oil saturated mess that sat very heavy on my usually very cast iron stomach.
Now comes the main course that I have been waiting for and from the looks of it, it is going to be great. The waitress sits down a plate of beautifully fried chicken with a side of mashed potatoes and a side of collard greens. Who could ask for anything more? The first thing I tried was the mashed potatoes and to my surprise they were very thick and I am pretty sure that they came from a box. So I moved to the collard greens and again was shocked to taste that familiar tinny taste that comes from most canned goods. Now I am starting to get worried because so far two of the three components on the plate have been major let downs. Well I put the two sides behind me and started digging in to the chicken. First off I notice that it is very crunchy which is a good thing and the meat is very tender and juicy which is another good thing. But… the flavor is off. I take another couple of bites and finally place it. It has that cafeteria/ buffet taste to it. Not the advertised famous buttermilk jalapeno breading flavor that I was hoping for. For a fifteen dollar a plate meal I was hoping for much more than 2 pieces of cafeteria chicken and canned or boxed sides.
Overall Max’s Wine Dive was a huge let down and even though I have heard that they have great burgers I doubt I will ever be making a return trip to test them out. With average food and high prices (for what you get) along with the somewhat snooty vibe of the restaurant I will put this on the no return list for SA Dining.

Thanks for reading,
JMW