Antlers Lodge Restaurant Combines Fresh Flavors and Hill Country Flair

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May 08, 2015
Texas is known for longhorns:  the stereotypical mounted longhorn skulls or horn sets adorning everything from mantles to cars. Though Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa celebrates all things Texas and Hill Country, there’s nothing stereotypical about the destination resort known for its authentic hospitality and true Texas roots. And stereotypical is definitely not the atmosphere you’ll find in Antlers, a restaurant that’s conveniently located, yet feels a world away.
 
Instead, the restaurant is treated as the trophy that it is, named for the spectacular antler chandeliers featured in both the restaurant’s main and private dining rooms. Made of more than 500 antler racks naturally shed and gathered from mule deer in Oregon and Montana, the main chandelier is 9.5 feet wide and seven feet tall and weighs 750 pounds. The smaller chandelier—if you can call something that weighs 500 pounds “small”—is 7.5 feet wide and five feet tall. The pieces were custom created for the restaurant by Arte de Mexico, whose craftsman forage the antlers from the wild, then individually select and hand assemble their creations.
 
The name and décor are fitting for the restaurant that offers a genuine, refined Texas dining experience to be savored again and again. Antlers is known for its fantastic customer service and unique location, nestled at one end of the resort, providing terrific views of the resort’s scenic, award-winning golf course and Hill Country surroundings. The AAA-Four Star restaurant received OpenTable’s “Diners’ Choice Award” 2015 and has been the recipient of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence every year since 2012.
 
Wrapped in the native Texas beauty of Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa, Antlers is a hidden gem on San Antonio’s culinary scene, giving diners an upscale option on the city’s bustling northwest side. The restaurant features a separate entrance and free parking independent of the resort, making it easily accessible to non-resort guests who are more than welcome to enjoy Antlers’ terrific menu and atmosphere. Featuring locally harvested ingredients and ranch-inspired cuisine with a focus on prime cuts and game, Antlers menu offers options that any rancher, or someone who just enjoys a quality meal in a beautiful setting, will enjoy.
 
Heritage and Heart
At the helm of Antlers is Chef de Cuisine Armando Diaz, an Arizona native with an extensive background in upscale and fine dining. He came to Antlers from San Antonio’s Piatti Restaurant, where he was Executive Chef.  Diaz attended the Scottsdale Culinary Institute following his heart to a culinary career from a successful career in banking. Antlers is the second time that Diaz has been part of a Hyatt culinary team, starting his career as Chef De Partie at Vu, the featured restaurant at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale that made the list for “Best New Restaurant” 2005 by Esquire magazine.
 
Diaz’s culinary experience features a terrific roster of restaurants, including the AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star Award-winning Addison at Grand Del Mar in San Diego, CA, where as Chef Tournant he worked with Chef William Bradley. He also served as Executive Sous Chef at the critically-acclaimed Noca restaurant in Phoenix, AZ. Diaz honed his knowledge and skills through travel and culinary experience across Europe, giving him a old world view to fantastic dining and fabulous flavors.
 
“My love of cooking is rooted in the time I spent watching my grandmother and helping her prepare meals. Her influence is what drew me to the kitchen. The way she cooked—not using recipes, working with ingredients that were fresh, making dishes that had history to them—there’s tradition and flavor there that you can’t replace. My experience in Europe mirrored that—time tested techniques that create natural flavor, with respect for the land and where your ingredients come from,” explains Diaz.
 
His passion for cooking and intense dedication to his craft is evident in the flavor and presentation of his creations. Diaz is also easy to spot in the restaurant’s open kitchen, checking on dishes and putting finishing touches on plates as servers pick them up. He also visits with guests frequently, talking with them about their flavor preferences and making suggestions to help them enjoy the menu. “My favorite meals are the ones I enjoy with family and our guests are here to share a meal with family and friends. Whether it’s a special occasion or not, every meal should be special and I want our guests to feel that, and taste that, when they’re with us,” explains Diaz.
 
Menu Rooted in Natural Flavor
Like the resort it calls home, Antlers holds itself to extremely high standards, using only high quality ingredients that are thoughtfully sourced—meaning that its meat, fish and game come from sustainable sources and are as local as possible. While it might sound high-end to say that you serve salmon that’s flown in fresh, what it really means is that fish was caught in waters far from Texas, then transported here. That may qualify as fresh for some people, but it doesn’t fit the bill for a restaurant that features the best of Texas and prides itself on working with locally, or regionally, sourced ingredients.
 
“The quality of your ingredients equals the ultimate quality of what you produce. While we may not be on the Gulf Coast, it’s just a few hours away. We work with trusted suppliers who are on the coast, delivering sustainable catches to us that are beyond compare. What could be better than fresh Gulf oysters or fresh-off-the-boat Redfish? What we’re serving is the best it can be because we start with the freshest, most flavorful ingredients. When you start with quality food, your preparation and presentation can elevate it to another level and that’s what we work for every day,” explains Diaz.
 
That concept also mirrors the history of the land that Antlers calls home. The resort and restaurant sit on land that was the Rogers-Wiseman Ranch, a working ranch with a rich history. Aunt Mary, the ranch’s first matriarch, was known for her cooking—so much so that she wouldn’t let anyone else in the kitchen. She raised chickens, hogs and cows, as well as a variety of crops, so you can imagine that what she cooked and served was fresh from the land, not flown in. Family lore says that when she saw a buggy approaching the ranch house down the main road, she could prepare a scratch chicken dinner before whoever was calling arrived at her door.
 
While Diaz may not be able to have your dinner ready when you walk through the door, he does follow in Aunt Mary’s footsteps, working with ingredients homegrown in the resort’s backyard. With an on-site herb garden planted and maintained by the Antlers kitchen team, Diaz uses the herbs throughout the restaurant’s menu, often highlighting them in daily specials. Winter greens were prominent through the colder weather, while spring and summer bring new herbs for guests to savor.
 
Additionally, Diaz has explored the resort’s landscape, foraging herbs to garnish some of Antlers’ dishes. The chef, who learned to forage from a Belgian chef while living in Europe, has used naturally grown garlic chives and rosemary to add color and an additional native touch to his creations.
 
If it sounds as if Diaz leaves no stone unturned to ensure Antlers’ offerings are top-notch, you may be on to something. In his quest to round out his culinary skills, he has also studied pastry making and is working with the resort’s pastry team to create seasonal dessert menus that reflect the same care and attention as the main menu offerings, including “Aunt Mary’s Cobbler,” made with the freshest fruit available to fit with Aunt Mary’s strict standards. Whether it’s spring berries or the sweetest Fredericksburg peaches, the cobbler offers a taste of the Hill Country as a sweet, memorable way to end your meal.
 
Are You Game?
The restaurant’s focus on game and prime cuts also ties back to its history. The Rogers-Wiseman family liked to host what they called “big picnics,” with cousins, aunts and uncles invited to enjoy a spread together, digging a fire pit to grill whatever game was in season. Game was a common source of meals for ranchers and ranch hands alike as they hunted the ranch while tending to cattle and other livestock.

The game featured at Antlers comes from Broken Arrow Ranch, an artisanal purveyor of high quality, free-range venison, antelope, and wild boar meat from truly wild animals, located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. Broken Arrow field harvests only truly wild animals by partnering with ranchers in Central and South Texas as an integral part of their population management programs. The practice provides a humane life and harvest for the animals, maintains a sustainable animal population for the rancher, and produces wild game meats of legendary quality, as evidenced by the fresh flavor of the dishes on Antlers menu.
 
Antlers routinely offers antelope, elk and bison, while venison and wild boar may also featured alongside the restaurant’s prime cuts of beef such as New York strip, bone-in ribeye and filet mignon, as well as veal. Gulf Coast redfish is a regular entrée and another sustainably sourced daily catch is always available. A recent dish combined the ribeye with chicken fried oysters for a unique “surf and turf” special, but you don’t have to wait for a special to enjoy the oysters:  they’re a regularly featured appetizer.
 
While some diners shy away from game dishes, Antlers General Manager Shane Tiller encourages everyone to try a dish. “Some people have never had game as fresh as this, or as well prepared, and that starts with how the animal is dressed in the field. That’s why we work with Broken Arrow—they take great care of the animals and are meticulous in how they process the meat. The flavor is incomparable—even guests who are hunters tell us that our game is the best they’ve ever had. We hate to see anyone come here and not try it—I’ve even offered to buy them a steak if they don’t like the game they order and I haven’t had anyone take me up on it yet,” he explains.
 
If you’re not up for a game entrée, the Texas Charcuterie appetizer features a mix of house-made meats that changes depending on what’s in season and what’s cured long enough to share. For instance, bison pastrami cures for a month and the result is unbelievably flavorful. Not familiar with charcuterie? That’s because it relies on old world techniques and patience, so one meat may take a month to prepare.
 
Charcuterie is a culinary specialty that originally referred to the creation of pork products such as salami, sausages, and prosciutto, but now encompasses a vast range of preparations that involve salting, cooking, smoking and drying meat. When done well, it turns preserved food into items of beauty and taste and one glance at Antlers’ charcuterie, served on a slate tablet with a variety of meats along side a mix of pickled vegetables, nuts, fresh cheeses, fresh fruits, crackers and house-made mustards or jellies, and you’ll agree it’s a beauty to behold. Once you’ve tasted it, you’ll agree it is a work of art.
 
In addition to pastrami, Diaz also crafts fresh cured pork belly, antelope sausage, a variety of pâtés—the list is as endless as his imagination. He learned the art of charcuterie in Europe and enjoys experimenting with flavors, then sharing the fruits of his labor. He also handcrafts the featured jellies, preserved fruits or exquisite mustards served with the charcuterie, like a raspberry mustard that is a perfect pair with the pork belly, or a Texas whiskey mustard that he claims is as strong as the state.
 
By the way, if you’re not game for game, or any of the other meat features, the restaurant has fabulous vegetarian options from appetizer to entrée and will customize any dish to accommodate requests or dietary restrictions.
 
The Perfect Pairing
The team at Antlers works to customize every meal, talking with guests to learn their likes and dislikes before recommending dishes. They do the same with the extensive wine list, working with guests to help them find the perfect match for their meal. And since many guests are still exploring the world of game, the restaurant has suggestions for what wine pairs well with everything from antelope to wild boar (a fantastic Malbec and a Cabernet Savignon, in case you’re wondering).
 
“Like any other dish, the right wine can truly enhance game. Venison, for instance, pairs well with red wines that have an earthy taste, as does elk, while wild boar goes with a variety of both reds and whites. We also have wines that pair with our quail dish very well, as well as good suggestions for redfish,” explains Tiller. “We want out guests to enjoy each aspect of their meal and feel our wine list works well to highlight the flavors on our menu.”
 
If a cocktail is more your style, the restaurant features a seasonal drink menu that includes its own twist on the margarita, Bloody Mary and more. So if you think you’re ready to explore the world of game, but want liquid courage to help, Antlers’ flavors include libations you’ll enjoy as much as the game. But don’t worry—with or without a drink, one bite of Diaz’s melt in your mouth antelope tenderloin and you’ll never consider beef to be your first choice of red meat again.
 
With free parking independent of the resort that allows guests direct access to the restaurant, Antlers is located in Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa at 9800 Hyatt Resort Drive. The restaurant offers dinner service Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 to 10PM. Reservations may be made at (210) 520-4001 or via opentable.com.
  
About Hyatt Regency Hill Country
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa is located on 300-scenic acres in the heart of San Antonio. The recently renovated 500-room resort features 54,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and 165,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor event space, as well as enhanced landscaping that further highlights the natural Texas beauty of the resort.
 
Resort amenities include the full-service Windflower-The Hill Country Spa featuring 21-treatment rooms with world-class services, a five-acre water park with a FlowRider® wave machine, 22’ tower waterslide, four swimming pools, Ramblin’ River® and regulation-sized sand volleyball court. With five restaurants, a lounge and tavern, guests can enjoy superb dining or cocktails with colleagues overlooking a lushly landscaped 27-hole Arthur Hills-designed golf course. For reservations or information contact 210-647-1234 or visit us at hillcountry.hyatt.com.
 
About Hyatt Regency
The Hyatt Regency brand is an energizing hotel brand that connects travelers to whom and what matters most to them. More than 140 conveniently located Hyatt Regency urban and resort locations in over 30 countries around the world serve as the go-to gathering space for every occasion – from efficient business meetings to memorable family vacations. The brand offers a one-stop experience that puts everything guests need right at their fingertips. Hyatt Regency hotels and resorts offer a full range of services and amenities, including notable culinary experiences; technology-enabled ways to collaborate; the space to work, engage or relax; and expert planners who take care of every detail. For more information, visit hyattregency.com or facebook.com/HyattRegency.

 
Contact:
Nicole Gravelle, eCommerce Marketing Manager
(210) 520-4022