Supper at Hotel Emma with Chef John Brand

Supper at Hotel Emma

I have not so patiently been waiting for Supper to open for a while now! Although the restaurant has been open for probably more than a month this is the first chance we had to go in and visit. No longer can San Antonio foodies depends on making same-day reservations even on a Monday night! For those that like a special culinary treat. I recommend asking to be seated at the chefs’ table a beautiful row of bar stools that overlook the kitchen. If that’s too warm though there’s plenty of seating in the dining room as well as a private dining room that seats 24 of your closest friends and family.


Supper, the Hotel Emma restaurant led by Chef John Brand, will focus on comforting and seasonally fresh greenmarket cuisine. The eatery will embody the sensibilities of both the farm table and bistro table. The cuisine will represent Brand’s elemental Midwestern approach in the kitchen peppered with South Texas’ multicultural food ways and the unique bounty of San Antonio’s year-round producers. Supper is open for breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m.; lunch, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and dinner, 5 to 10 p.m. For reservations, call (210) 448-8351.

Here’s a quick video so you can know what you have to look forward to!

Reasons to Love Chef John Brand

When I started to write this blog post, I realized that to truly appreciate your Supper experience, it helps to know a little bit about the chef.

Chef John Brand grew up in the Midwest spending most of his time on a farm in the Nebraska. He began his career washing dishes as a teenager in Green Bay Wisconsin and progressed to stay in the kitchen for the past 25+ years. Mr. Brand has cooked his way around the country for fine dining restaurants and resorts, most notably in Beaver Creek Colorado, Scottsdale Arizona, The Little Nell in Aspen Colorado, Keswick Hall in Charlottesville Virginia, and the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs Colorado. In 2008, he arrived in San Antonio Texas as Executive Chef La Mansion del Rio and Mokara Hotel and Spa. In 2011, he was also asked to be the Area Executive Chef for Omni Hotels and Resorts.

People who know me personally know that I take my chef fandom to rockstar groupie levels.  In October 2011 (had to check emails from Culinaria to remember the date/event)…was when I met Chef John Brand for the first time. He was quietly nestled in a slight corner at the Quarry Golf Clubhouse. On the table were slightly tiered trays of some kind of mousse or pate jarred in miniature glass containers. (Looking for picture.) It was Culinaria’s Golf Tournament and I’m not embarrassed to admit I ate several. Over the years his attendance to community events is an expected pleasure. I seek his tables out. Sometimes his son helps him (like at Culinaria’s Burgers and Beer event or at the Becker Luncheon.) I’ll also never forget the braised lamb neck he did at the first SA Chef Coalition dinner!

Here’s a great article Chef Brand wrote for what Chef looks for in hiring candidates. Some favorite quotes:

  • A chef that exudes themselves outside of the kitchen will most often be respected in the community and will have a well trained staff to support the operation.
  • …active in the community and has a sense of giving time, talent and treasure.
  • Look up the chef, know their back story and their menus as well as food philosophy. Every restaurant has an identity…
  • If you can research the chef’s history and their previous experience you can also understand their management style. Is this a mercenary operation or a healthy sustainable place with loyal and local people working there?
  • Cooking should be your oxygen, food your religion. There must be a pursuit of excellence, as you apply for this job whichever one it is, have a goal to reach

Another article that demonstrates the type of chef he is is about in-room dining exceeding customers expectation:

  • Cook – It is a verb, chef is an attitude, a goal, a direction, a purpose.
  • Treat room service food without respect and your career will follow the same path.
  • Seasonal vegetables – This is the responsibility of the chef to determine the fresh market vegetables for the day, a minimum of three and describe them for the service team and dispatcher. Hopefully, armed with the knowledge of the vegetable, farmer, seasonality and possibly nutrient value, the guest can be informed by the dispatcher.
  • We should be able to provide the best the season and markets have to offer for that moment. We cannot underestimate the guest experience.
  • The guest loves to hear and see the smile in the voice of the person servicing them.
  • Food brings closure to those that travel, and closure to the day, hence the pedestrian items on the menu. We appeal to all those who want comfort food.
  • I am still trying to find the love in this food, the warm, crispy, fresh flavors that will make me feel good as I go to sleep in this strange place.
  • let us think of the guest and the guest experience and build a lasting relationship on the tools we have to create a loyal customer.

So what I hear is I need to stay at Hotel Emma and order room service!

Our Supper at Supper

With help from many chefs from his former restaurant Las Canarias, Supper dinner service was tight and well paced. We enjoyed the Sorghum and Rosemary Roasted Carrots with Pomegranate and Goat Cheese and the White Anchovy Beignets with Dandelion Salsa Verde as a special treat from the kitchen. Both of them savory and warm on a cold winter day (actually I think it was in the 70s but we were pretending.) After staring at the menu for a long time, I finally committed to the Bronzini with Crispy Potato Salad and Poppyseed Crema which had a wonderful taste and textures. My husband ordered the Venison Loin with Juniper Parsnip Mousse and Blueberry Mustard and we watched it prepared on their custom made grill.  While we were there the grill fire began to die down and we watched someone hoist the grill up so that wood could be added below.  Plenty of non-meat options, we also tasted the Brussels Sprouts which we enjoyed the complimentary flavors of salt and vinegar!

Other can’t miss items on the menu:

  • Smoked Crispy Quail, Pickled Corn Relish and Gold Potato Puree – below our minds the flavors coaxed from the corn with the quail!
  • Braised Oxtail Stew with Mushrooms, Cipollini and Walnuts – rich, savory broth, exactly what you want.

Wow, working on this post, I’m unsurprisingly hungry to try lunch next time at Supper!

More posts about Supper:

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