[[PRINTED WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE ALPINE AVALANCHE]]
Last Saturday, we visited the Saddle Club in Alpine for the first time. It was my birthday and we wanted to try something different out here in West Texas. I’ve heard great things about the place, and didn’t really know much other than it was a full-service bar that served tapas and small plates.
The atmosphere was nice and comfortable, with seating similar to a large living room. Sofas and tables were interspersed throughout, across from the extensive bar. We opted for a table in the back, out of the ever-growing crowd, where we could sit and people-watch.
The menu is relatively small, and appears to change often. Personally, I appreciate a small menu where every item can be crafted to perfection. We decided to try the Cheesy Saddle Balls, the Bolognese Lasagna, and the Burger of the Week.
My cocktail of choice was the Stampede – Zubreska Vodka with Bishop Nectar Cider. YUM. I drank it before I could take a picture, but it was fantastic – trust me on that!
The Cheesy Saddle Balls, handmade fried mozzarella balls, were served on a bed of micro-greens with marinara sauce for dipping. They were crisp and creamy, and the micro-greens added a peppery crunch that made me feel like I was being healthy while eating fried cheese.
The Bolognese Lasagna was served in a small cast-iron skillet, and was still bubbling when it arrived to our table. I could be wrong, but I think the lasagna noodles were homemade because they were delicate yet sturdy enough to warmly snuggle the hearty sauce, fresh mozzarella and mascarpone cheese.
The Burger of the Week was a little intimidating when our server described it, and she even said, “I know it sounds weird but everyone loves it!” A Spicy PB&J Bacon Burger?! Whoever came up with the idea of mixing sriracha with peanut butter and smearing it on one bun, dark berry jelly smeared on the other bun, putting a thick beef patty topped with provolone cheese and bacon between those buns, was a genius. The beer battered fries completed the unusual and flavorful burger plate.
Don’t let the small menu fool you, the tapas and small plates deliver huge on flavor and uniqueness. The classically trained French chefs at the Saddle Club are on top of their game.
The Saddle Club is right next door to the Granada Theater in Alpine, sharing a cozy courtyard. The Granada Theater can be rented for large events, and the Saddle Club caters them. The upstairs of the Saddle Club can easily serve 60 people for private parties. Typically open from 4 p.m. to midnight, the Saddle Club is located at 211 E. Holland Avenue in Alpine. For menu and other information, check out www.saddleclubalpine.com
Fried Mozzarella Cheese Balls
(inspired by the Cheesy Saddle Balls at the Saddle Club)
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
16 ounces fresh Mozzarella Balls (cherry size)
oil for frying
Drain fresh mozzarella and dry with paper towels. Beat two eggs in a shallow bowl.
Pour breadcrumbs into another shallow bowl and mix well.
Working in batches, toss fresh mozzarella balls in egg and drip excess off into dish. Coat with breadcrumbs and place on a clean plate. Repeat with remaining mozzarella.
Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a deep-sided pan over medium-high heat. Once hot add a few of the breaded mozzarella balls and fry for 15 to 20 seconds before flipping and repeating. Transfer to a paper towel lined platter and repeat. Adjust the oil so the mozzarella bites do not burn.
Serve immediately with your favorite marinara or other dipping sauce.