Starfish's crab cake — Photo courtesy of Kimberly Suta
Starfish is one of the newest restaurants to open its doors in San Antonio's popular arts district, Southtown, which is a bourgeoning foodie district as well. While it can sometimes be difficult finding fresh, delicious seafood in the Alamo city, it doesn't seem to be a problem for Starfish, which is owned and operated by a father and son team.
Chef Rene Fernandez also owns a Latin cuisine restaurant called Azuca, conveniently located next door; it's been a staple in Southtown for over a decade.
“Starfish is really Diego’s vision," explains Rene. Rene's son and partner, Chef Diego runs the kitchen at Starfish.
Chef Rene Fernandez with son, Chef Diego Fernandez — Photo courtesy of Kimberly Suta
Diego, who grew up in the food industry, is clearly inspired by his father's passion for cooking.
“When I was seven years old, we lived in Aruba," says Diego. "My first memory in the kitchen is of seeing my Dad fabricating a six-foot-long marlin. It drew me in because I had never seen anything like that before."
When Diego was 16, he started his career as a busboy at Azuca and worked his way up the ranks, learning to be a server, a bartender, a cook and even a manager.
“What started as a job became a trade, then a hobby and eventually a passion,” explains Diego.
After graduating in the first class at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in San Antonio in 2007, Diego left Texas to complete his studies at the CIA in Hyde Park, N.Y., then took a position at the Ritz Cartlon Hotel in Orlando, Fla.
After three years honing his craft, he received a call from his dad, who wanted to know if he was ready to return to San Antonio and transform the building he’d been using for storage.
Inside Starfish restaurant — Photo courtesy of Kimberly Suta
Interestingly, Starfish looks like it was plucked from the streets of New York City, and the cuisine could easily compete with any of the seafood restaurants found in "The Big Apple."
The “boundless cuisine” of Starfish focuses on seasonal, fresh ingredients, particularly seafood and ingredients unique to Texas. For those wanting something a bit heartier, Starfish makes sure to offer some excellent alternatives, such as their pork chop, aged flat iron steak and duck pot pie.
Although seafood lovers should most definitely explore the ocean's bounty, artfully prepared by Chef Diego and his stellar team.
From the steamed halibut with toasted couscous ratatouille to the striped bass with dirty rice; savory bouillabaisse; or sea scallops with celery root and apple puree, beet gel and orange thyme velouté, each dish is an edible masterpiece.
Starfish also features unique craft cocktails and specialty brews, best enjoyed on the expansive patio. Live music can also be found on weekends.
Food enthusiasts wishing to enjoy a special treat should keep their eye out for Starfish's underground prix fixe dinners happening on Sundays.
To inquire, or for more information, visit Starfish's website.