PHARM TABLE - APOTHECARY KITCHEN
by Andrew Chalk
As its name suggests, Pharm Table views food as medicine. To founder and owner Elizabeth Johnson that means a plant-forward approach to the menu, sourcing from small local farms, and minimizing waste. “Pharm Table is a lifestyle, not a diet.” she says on the restaurant website, and encourages community tables and “breaking bread with like-minded people”.
Such a culture around food is so far divorced from the buy cheap, eat fast, process as desired, philosophy that dominates life it takes a little contemplation to fully appreciate. The closest I could come up with is the Italian idea of the whole family gathering as one for a meal that takes a whole evening. Johnson replaces Italian ingredients with San Antonio’s and emphasizes plants.
A meal at Pharm Table is a meal powered by a point of view and unlike a meal anywhere else in town. It also happens to be very visual with the dishes speaking through their images.
At our media event we started from the Lunch menu with a single serving spoon on a plate bearing an orange liquid that turned out to be citrus pickled ginger. Ginger Meal Starter ($3) is an amuse bouche “to kindle the digestive fire”. That the ginger definitely did.
Plant Based Soup ($6 cup) was a telegenic purple-red soup of beets peppered with nuts and herbs. The beet flavors were deep and lasting but olive oil assured everything remained smooth to the mouth. The Sargasso Sea of nuts provided the whirl of flavors and multifaceted texture.
An Ensalada Tres Hermanas ($16) was light and inviting, consisting of sweet potato escabeche, blistered corn, black bean, calabacita squash, avocado, drizzled with chile pequin vinaigrette.
It was on to brunch dishes with Huevos Maya ($16). Two farm eggs cooked on chaya leaves, black bean paste, avocado, habanero salsa, pepita seeds, heirloom Non-GMO corn tortillas. A synergistic combination to mix together on the fork.
Just to show that Pharm Table could do meat, Wagyu Beef Short Rib ($10) was the filling for our Heirloom Corn Taco. This dish will remind you why you love meat.
The beverage selection is hugely interesting whether you want wine, beer, or cocktails - or tea or coffee. There is even a selection of tinctures to add to any beverage.
Every city should have a Pharm Table but not every city can have a Pharm Table, because it is so individualistic. San Antonio is very lucky and appears to be an appreciative host judging by the crowds that thronged for Saturday lunch. Situated in historic Southtown, it is an easy ride from downtown and even walkable for the active. Visitors to the city should not miss the opportunity for a visit.