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Griffin to Go: Scenes from Restaurant Week

Griffin to Go: Scenes from Restaurant Week

Culinaria’s Restaurant Week continues, so what better reason do you need to go out and eat?

Smoke's Shrimp & Swine

Smoke’s Shrimp & Swine

Nothing, in my book, which is why I headed out to several lunches and a dinner in the past week.

The trips started with a visit to Brian West’s Smoke: The Restaurant and a $10 lunch that was largely wonderful.

It began with a warm pork jowl and shrimp salad, also known as Shrimp & Swine, in which the meats were tossed with cabbage and bacon. One bite convinced us that it was a masterful blending of flavors and textures, and it left us with an appetite for the meaty pleasures to come.

The main course is a three-meat plate. I don’t know if the lineup changes, but we were pleased with our trio of turkey, pork and brisket. A delicate touch of smoke laced the juicy slab of turkey while letting the real flavor of the meat shine through. The brisket was tender, but the salty crust was even more impressive; the thick-cut serving also tasted good with the house chimichurri sauce, thanks to its bright garlicky base. Strands of moist pulled pork filled out the tray and provided a great vehicle to try the six pack of sauces that arrived at the table; I preferred the tangy tomatillo sauce, while you might prefer the sweeter honey mustard. Give them all a shot.

Bolo's Monte Cristo

Bolo’s Monte Cristo

Dessert was a welcome serving of banana pudding that featured firm yet flavorful slices of fruit floating in a creamy base with a vanilla wafer offering a crunchy contrast. I had a hankering for this homespun favorite before the first morsel of food arrived, thanks to a waiter who bore a tray of servings past our table shortly arrived I arrived.

The food in and unto itself made for a great lunch, especially at $10, and we were lucky to have an attentive server even though the restaurant was slammed with diners. Unfortunately, the background music was so loud that it was hard to hear my companions that day. They had asked for the music to be turned down before I arrived a little late, and while their wish was granted, that seemed to last for only a song. By turning the music back up, Smoke lost one of my friends who decided he had no need to return, no matter how good the food is. I’ll opt for the outdoors when the weather isn’t so hot.

Bolo's lemon sorbet with stone fruit

Bolo’s lemon sorbet with stone fruit

My second lunch visit was to Bolo’s Rotisserie Grill at the Omni Colonnade, a short trip from my day job.

The special menu, at $15 for lunch, began with a grilled Caesar made with smoky romaine that had been wilted and slightly charred on the grill. A light taste of oil from the roasted poblano dressing added to the fresh of the lettuce while pearl tomatoes, grown on the hotel’s rooftop garden, added a bright touch. A couple of anchovies would have been even more welcome, but I welcome anchovies with most any dish.

The main course was a Monte Cristo sandwich filled with generous slices of honey-roasted turkey and Hill Country ham as well as plenty of Swiss to help melt it all together. The French toast that surrounded the meats and cheese arrived sizzling to the touch and went from hot and crisp to a welcome warm soft state before the last bite disappeared.

Biga's snapper with pappardelle and bacon

Biga’s snapper with pappardelle and bacon

Dessert that day was a lemon sorbet instead of the advertised mango, and that was perfectly fine with me as it arrived over a medley of plums and peaches in a passion fruit and honey sauce (the honey was also harvested from that rooftop garden). It sent me back to work with a sweet smile.

By Saturday night, I was ready for more, and Biga on the Banks happily delivered.

My friend and I were able to split most of the Restaurant Week options even without quibbling over who would try what.

She wanted the advertised soup choice, a chilled bowl of potato cilantro soup, which was refreshing after a hot day even as it excited with a drizzle of chile oil on top. I opted for a special that evening, a warm soup with roasted mushrooms and cauliflower, which proved earthy and bold; one spoon convinced me it would be hard to top, no matter how good the rest of the meal proved to be.

Biga's mousse bar

Biga’s mousse bar

And it turned out to be quite good indeed.

A Kobe beef burger (with a slab of foie gras for a $15 supplement) was practically perfect, thanks to a juicy slab of meat matched by a bun loaded with the flavor of caramelized onion. The bread overwhelmed the foie, so we merely removed it and enjoyed it by itself. The burger and fries were bolsterd by a robust Simi Cabernet Sauvignon.

I’ve been trying somewhat to increase my seafood intake, so I ordered the seared snapper over pappardelle pasta. The fish was firm and fresh, complemented by the dill in the sauce, and truly satisfying. I just won’t tell my doctor about the bacon that also appeared in the sauce, sending the dish into a whole new realm of texture and flavor.

We finished off the evening with a chocolate-raspberry mousse bar topped with melted orange marshmallow, which was dense and rich, but somehow couldn’t eclipse the brilliance of lemon custard with blueberries and coconut ice cream.

Add in Biga’s always excellent service and inviting ambience, and you have the perfect illustration of why Restaurant Week is such a favorite of diners. I hope your adventures are proving to be as rewarding.

Biga's lemon custard with blueberries and coconut ice cream

Biga’s lemon custard with blueberries and coconut ice cream

Smoke: The Restaurant
700 E Sonterra Blvd.
210-417-0175
http://smoketherestaurant.com/

Omni Colonnade – Bolo’s Rotisserie Grille
9821 Colonnade Blvd
210-699-5864
http://www.omnihotels.com/

Biga on the Banks
203 S. St. Mary’s St., Suite 100
210-225-0722
http://biga.com/

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Griffin to Go: Restaurant Week Brings a Welcome Mix of Old and New

Griffin to Go: Restaurant Week Brings a Welcome Mix of Old and New

Kirby's Angus New York strip

Kirby’s Angus New York strip

Culinaria’s Restaurant Week, which is actually two weeks this summer, offers the chance to see what some old friends are up to while introducing us to new places on the city’s dining scene.

Kirby's braised lamb shank

Kirby’s braised lamb shank

And so it was with visits to the new Alberico Fine Wine and the reliable Kirby’s Steakhouse on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Let’s start with Kirby’s, which has long gotten into the spirit of Restaurant Week by offering a varied menu and by being the first to extend the special an additional week.

This year’s special menu, available for $35, begins with an extra appetizer, available for $7 — and it’s worth every penny. It’s a chorizo-stuffed quail atop a bed of smoky jalapeno coleslaw, both of which are as fine as you can imagine. The spicy sausage offered a nice contrast to the moist fowl while the slaw had the right balance of heat and creaminess to make each of want more.

The menu begins with starters that included your choice of two bacon-wrapped scallops with spinach, fried artichokes or a baked Caprese, a kind of Napoleon of tomato slices topped with a Boursin-stuffed portobello mushroom. All disappeared quickly.

Kirby's baked Caprese

Kirby’s baked Caprese

Then arrived the real star of the evening: a rustic braised lamb shank in a meaty rosemary thyme au jus that was pure comfort food, tender perfection in every bite. A 10-ounce Angus New York strip lacked the velvety nature of prime, but the beef flavor won out. Glazed salmon topped with pecans was a little sweet for my tastes, but one of my friends enjoyed it as well as the red bell pepper risotto that came with it. There’s also a prosciutto-wrapped filet that might call us back for a second visit.

Dessert options included butterscotch chocoflan, which was a little on the dry side, and a strawberry mojito sundae that hit all the right buttons on a sweltering August evening, thanks to a lively combination of berries, whipped cream, mint and a touch of rum.

We forgot that Sunday was half-off wine night at Kirby’s, so imagine our surprise when we got the bill and noticed that our bottle of 2008 Ridge Lytton Springs was listed at $27.50, instead of the usual $55. It was just the right note to end the evening on.

Special mention must be made of the excellent service, which made the visit all the more special.

Alberico Fine Wine's tuna

Alberico Fine Wine’s tuna

We were looking forward to our first visit to Alberico Fine Wine, and we were impressed with the wine program as well as the help we received from the sommelier. The restaurant and wine bar, located in the Yard next to Olmos Perk, offers all of its wines by the glass and at a good price. Plus, you can enjoy it in your choice of environs: a light and cozy bar area; a cool, spacious dining area; or in the inviting wine room.

It’s too bad that the food largely failed to match the wine experience. Dad’s Salad was a single leaf of romaine lettuce topped with diced unripe tomato, a few paltry cubes of avocado and strands of red onion. The watermelon and feta salad with arugula was far better, in fact the refreshing combination was the best dish of the evening.

Duck medallions were served in a sauce that was far too sweet, throwing off the pleasantness of the dry Barolo we’d ordered. Just-seared tuna with grilled vegetables were good, but they were served atop a mound of risotto that was gummy and cold.

Alberico's watermelon and feta salad

Alberico’s watermelon and feta salad

A salt grilled peach struck the right note, but it was atop a nearly flavorless sorbet while a pair of creme brulees were a little too gritty when they should have been silken and creamy.

It didn’t help matters that our waiter was indifferent to his job duties and seemed to avoid our table, one of only three or four occupied in the place.

In the end, it was all a part of what makes Restaurant Week special. Here’s to more adventures in eating.

Kirby’s Steakhouse
123 N. Loop 1604 E.
(210) 404-2221
kirbyssteakhouse.com

Alberico Fine Wine
5221 McCullough Ave.
(210) 320-VINO (8466)
albericofinewine.com

 

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Nectar Wine Bar and Ale House Opens

Nectar Wine Bar and Ale House Opens

nectar3Nectar Wine Bar and Ale House has opened at 214 Broadway.

NectarRob and Rachel Stephens own the establishment, which they say was founded after over 20 years of planning. “It is designed to respect the traditions of wine bars worldwide, while adding a touch of modern charm,” a press release said.

On the menu are wines, beer and gourmet food served in a casual environment.

The opening had been scheduled for earlier, but a HVAC system forced a delay. You’ll now find Nectar open every day but Monday.

“The HVAC delay was just another opportunity to ensure that everything was going to be in place for the enjoyment of our customers,” said Rob Stephens. “We are beyond excited to officially welcome everybody to Nectar and enjoy a glass of fine wine or ale.”

For more information, visit: http://www.nectarsa.com/.

nectar4

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Is Your Appetite Ready for Restaurant Week?

Is Your Appetite Ready for Restaurant Week?

Culinaria’s summer version of Restaurant Week begins Saturday, but unlike year’s past, this year’s celebration goes on for two weeks.

Bliss.

Bliss.

That’s good news because the list of participating restaurants is greater than ever. It comes in two tiers, the first features lunches for $15 and dinners for $35 while the second tier restaurants are presenting $10 lunches and $25 dinners.

If you buy the Restaurant Week special menu, a portion goes to benefit Culinaria’s urban garden, which will be breaking ground on Jan. 1, 2016, according to Suzanne Etheredge, Culinaria’s president and CEO.

Below are the restaurants participating this year, though more were being added as the beginning of the event approached.

TIER 1 RESTAURANTS:

Acenar
146 E Houston Street
210-222-2362
http://acenar.com/mexican/
Acenar Lunch Menu
Acenar Dinner Menu

Boiler House

Boiler House

Alberico Fine Wine
5221 McCullough Ave
210-320-8466
http://www.albericofinewine.com/
Alberico Lunch and Dinner Menu

Bella on the River
106 River Walk
210-404-2355
http://www.bellaontheriver.com/
Bella on the River Dinner Menu

Biga on the Banks
203 S. St. Mary’s St., Suite 100
210-225-0722
http://biga.com/

Bite
1012 S. Presa Street
(210) 532-2551
http://www.biterestaurantsa.com/
Bite Dinner Menu

Bliss
926 S. Presa Street
http://www.foodisbliss.com/

Biga on the Banks

Biga on the Banks

Boardwalk Bistro
4011 Broadway
210-824-0100
http://www.boardwalkbistro.net/

Bob’s Steak and Chop House
5851 Rim Pass Drive
210-222-2627
http://www.bobs-steakandchop.com
Bob’s Dinner Menu

Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden
312 Pearl Pkwy, Building 3
210-354-4644
www.boilerhousesa.com
Boiler House Lunch Menu
Boiler House Dinner Menu
Lunch: Mon-Fri only; Dinner: 5P to close

Boudro’s Texas Bistro
421 E. Commerce St.
210-224-8484
http://www.boudros.com/

Charlie Wants A Burger
223 Losoya Street
210-227-0864
http://charliewantsaburger.com/
Charlie Wants a Burger Menu

Chart House
739 E. Cesar E. Chavez Blvd
210-223-3101
http://www.chart-house.com/

Chez Vatel Bistro
218 E Olmos
210-828-3141
bistrovatel.com
Chez Vatel Bistro Dinner Menu

Cover 3
1806 North Loop 1604 W
210-479-9700
http://cover-3.com/
Cover 3 Lunch Menu
Cover 3 Dinner Menu

Sustenio

Sustenio

Cured at Pearl
306 Pearl Parkway, Suite 101
210-314-3929
https://curedatpearl.com/
Cured Lunch and Dinner Menu

Eilan Hotel – Sustenio
18603 La Cantera Terrace
210-598-2950
http://sustenio.restaurant/
Sustenio Lunch and Dinner

El Machito
7300 Jones Maltsberger
210-314-3971
http://chefjohnnyhernandez.com/elmachito/
El Machito Lunch and Dinner Menu

Esquire Tavern
155 E Commerce Street
210-222-2521
http://www.esquiretavern-sa.com/menu/
Esquire Tavern Dinner Only Menu

Fig Tree
515 Villita Street
210-224-1976
http://dine.figtreerestaurant.com/

Zocca on the River Walk

Zocca on the River Walk

Grey Moss Inn
19010 Scenic Loop Road
210-695-8301
http://www.grey-moss-inn.com
Dinner Menu

Hotel Contessa – Las Ramblas
306 W Market Street
210-298-8040
http://thehotelcontessa.com/
Las Ramblas Dinner Only Menu

Hotel Valenica – Citrus
150 E Houston Street
http://hotelvalencia-riverwalk.com/
Citrus Lunch Menu
Citrus Dinner Menu

Houlihans
938 North Loop 1604 W
http://houlihans.com/

Houlihans
14601 IH 35 N
210- 651-4744
http://houlihans.com/

Hyatt Hill Country Resort – Antlers Lodge
9800 Hyatt Resort Drive
210-520-4001
www.antlerslodgerestaurant.com
Antlers Lodge Dinner Menu

Kimura Ramen Shop
152 E Pecan Street, Suite 150
210-444-0702
KimuraSA.com

Kirby’s Steakhouse
123 N. Loop 1604 E.
210-404-2221
http://kirbyssteakhouse.com/locations/san-antonio/
Kirby’s Dinner Menu

La Cantera Resort – Primero
16641 La Cantera Parkway
210-558-6500
https://www.destinationhotels.com/la-cantera-resort-and-spa
Primero Lunch and Dinner Menu

La Cantera Resort – SweetFire
16641 La Cantera Parkway
https://www.destinationhotels.com/la-cantera-resort-and-spa
SweetFire Lunch and Dinner Menu

La Frite Belgian Bistro
728 S Alamo St
210-224-7555
http://www.lafritesa.com/

La Gloria's

La Gloria’s

La Gloria
100 E Grayson Street
210-267-9040
http://chefjohnnyhernandez.com/lagloria/
La Gloria Lunch and Dinner Menu

Landry’s Seafood
517 N Presa St
210-229-1010
http://www.landrysseafood.com/

Liberty Bar
1111 S Alamo
210-227-1187
http://liberty-bar.com/

Luke San Antonio
125 E. Houston Street
210-227-5853
http://www.lukesanantonio.com/
Luke Menu

Mariposa at Neiman Marcus
15900 La Cantera Parkway
210-694-3550
http://neimanmarcus.com/

Market on Houston – Sheraton Gunter
205 E Houston St
210-554-1721
http://www.marketonhouston.com/

Max’s Wine Dive
340 E Basse Road, Suite 101
210-444-9547
http://maxswinedive.com/
Lunch: 11A – 3P Mon-Fri only; Dinner: 4P – close, daily

Morton’s Steakhouse
300 E Crockett
210-228-0700
http://mortons.com/
Morton’s Dinner Only Menu

Nao

Nao

Nao at the Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio
312 Pearl Parkway
210-554-6484
http://www.naorestaurant.com/
Nao Dinner Menu

Omni Colonnade – Bolo’s Rotisserie Grille
9821 Colonnade Blvd
210-699-5864
http://www.omnihotels.com/
Bolo’s Lunch Menu
Bolo’s Dinner Menu

Omni La Mansion del Rio – Las Canarias
112 College St.
210-518-1063
http://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/san-antonio-la-mansion-del-rio/dining/las-canarias
Las Canarias Lunch and Dinner Menu

Ostra at Mokara
212 W Crockett Street
210-396-5817
dining.html
Ostra Lunch and Dinner Menu

Paesanos Riverwalk
111 W Crockett St
210-227-2782
http://paesanosriverwalk.com/
Paesanos Lunch and Dinner Menu
Paesanos Riverwalk Location Only

Palm Restaurant
233 E Houston Street
210-226-7256
http://thepalm.com/san-antonio
Palm Restaurant Dinner Menu

Perry's

Perry’s

Perry’s Steak House
15900 La Cantera Pkwy #2200
210-558-6161
la-cantera
Perry’s Dinner Menu

Restaurant Gwendolyn
152 E Pecan Street, #100
210-222-1849
http://restaurantgwendolyn.com/

Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Jones Maltsberger
7720 Jones Maltsberger
210- 821-5051
http://ruthchris.com/
Ruth’s Chris Dinner Only Menu

Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Riverwalk
1170 East Commerce St
210 227-8847
http://www.ruthschris.com/
Ruth’s Chris Lunch Menu
Ruth’s Chris Dinner Menu

Shuck Shack

Shuck Shack

Shuck Shack
520 E. Grayson Street
210-236-7422

Southerleigh
136 E. Grayson, Suite 120
210-455-5701
http://southerleigh.com/

Stella Public House
1414 S Alamo Street #103
210-277-7047
www.stellapublichouse.com

Tacos and Tequila
1915 Broadway St
210-314-8226
http://tacos-and-tequila.com/
Tacos and Tequila Lunch and Dinner Menu

Texas de Brazil
313 E Houston
210-299-1600
http://www.texasdebrazil.com/
Dinner Menu

The Granary

The Granary

The Granary Cue & Brew
302 Avenue A
210-228-0124
http://thegranarysa.com/

The Hoppy Monk
1010 N Loop 1604 E
210-545-3330
http://www.thehoppymonk.com/
The Hoppy Monk Dinner Menu

Tiu Steppi’s Osteria
9910 W Loop 1604 N
210-688-9885
http://www.tiusteppis.com/
Tiu Steppis Lunch and Dinner Menu

Tre Enoteca
555 W Bitters Road
210-496-0555

Tre Trattoria
4003 Broadway
210-805-0333
http://tretrattoria.com/

Tribeca

Tribeca

Tribeca di Olmos
4331 McCullough Ave
210-320-0698
http://www.tribecadiolmos.com/

Two Step Restaurant & Cantina
9840 West Loop 1604 N
210-688-2686
http://www.twosteprestaurant.com/
Two Step Lunch and Dinner Menu

Werner’s Prime Steak & Seafood
16111 San Pedro Ave., Suite 119
210-490-2295
http://www.wernersprime.com/
Werner’s Dinner Menu

Westin Riverwalk – Zocca Cusine de Italia
420 W. Market St.
210-444-6070
http://www.zoccariverwalk.com/

WildFish Seafood Grille
1834 N. Loop 1604 W.
210-493-1600
https://www.wildfishseafoodgrille.com/

Zinc
207 N. Presa
210-224-2900
http://zincwine.com/

TIER 2 RESTAURANTS:

Bavarian Brauhaus
300 W. Bitters Road
210-396-7170
http://www.bavarianbrauhaus.com/
Bavarian Brauhaus Lunch and Dinner Menu

Thai Topaz

Thai Topaz

La Botanica
2911 N. St. Mary’s
http://vivalabotanica.com
La Botanica Dinner Only Menu

Orderup
999 E. Basse Road
210-824-9600
http://orderup-sa.com/

Paloma Blanca
5800 Broadway
210-822-6151
http://www.palomablanca.net/

Smoke: The Restaurant
700 E. Sonterra Blvd.
210-417-0175
http://smoketherestaurant.com/

Thai Topaz
2177 N.W. Military Hwy.
210-290-9833
http://thaitopaz-sat.com/

Urban Taco
290 E. Basse Road, Ste 105
210-332-5149
http://dinedsrg.com/ut/quarry.html
Urban Taco Lunch and Dinner Menu

 

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Big Easy Cafe Is Closing

Big Easy Cafe Is Closing

Big Easy Cafe, 4822 Walzem Road, has been a haven of Cajun favorites for the past eight years. But all good things come to an end.

The Big Easy is closing.

The Big Easy is closing.

According to an email from the restaurant:

After eight years in business, Big Easy Cafe has decided to close our doors on Walzem. We can’t fully express our deep gratitude for your business and support.. Feeding and getting to know”has been nothing but an absolute pleasure.

Our last effective day of business will be Saturday, August 8, 2015. Until that date, we will continue to feed you!

If that comes as sad news, then there is a silver lining. The email also said, “There is a great blessing in the works for Big Easy Cafe! We are seeking another location, now! More news to come as we work out the details!”

In the meantime, you only have a couple of days to get another one of those po’boys or some more jambalaya

.

 

 

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Morton’s Shows Off Its Renovations

Morton’s Shows Off Its Renovations

The main dining area at Morton's

The main dining area at Morton’s

Morton’s the Steakhouse, 300 E. Crockett St., has recently completed a renovation of its interior. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then let these images tell you stories of the new look the restaurant is sporting in its main dining area, secondary dining room and bar. Oh, and a photo of Morton’s Hot Chocolate Cake, just to remind you of a happy ending there.

The bar area at Morton's

The bar area at Morton’s

A dining area at Morton's

A dining area at Morton’s

Morton's Hot Chocolate Cake

Morton’s Hot Chocolate Cake

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Thirsting for a Fine Wine? Bob’s Has the Award to Show It Has What You’re Looking For

Thirsting for a Fine Wine? Bob’s Has the Award to Show It Has What You’re Looking For

For the second consecutive year, Bob’s Steak & Chop House has been recognized by Wine Spectator with a Best of Award of Excellence in the magazine’s 2015 awards. The restaurant, located at 5815 Rim Pass Drive, at The Rim is one of only two establishments in San Antonio to win this award and one of 31 in Texas.

Bob's Steak & Chop House

Bob’s Steak & Chop House

“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized for the second year in a row,” said general manager Patrick Bean.  “This award shines a spotlight on our commitment to running the best wine program in San Antonio.  Having an amazing wine list is an important part of creating special dining experiences for our guests.”

Wine Spectator’s Restaurant Wine List Awards recognize restaurants whose wine lists offer interesting selections, are appropriate to their cuisine and appeal to a wide range of wine lovers. To qualify for an award, the list must present complete, accurate wine information. It must include vintages and appellations for all selections, including wines available by the glass. Complete producer names and correct spellings are mandatory, while the overall presentation and appearance of the list is also taken into consideration.

The Best of Award of Excellence honors restaurants whose wine lists typically offer 350 or more selections along with superior presentation, and display either vintage depth with several vertical offerings of top wines or excellent breadth across several wine regions. Bob’s Steak & Chop House has a list of more than 550 wines.

Bob’s Steak & Chop House is a traditional American Prime Steakhouse with drinks, fine wines and large cuts of the prime steaks, chops and seafood. For more information, visit www.bobs-steakandchop.com/locations/san-antonio or call (210) 222-2627.

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David Gilbert New Chef at Hotel Valencia Riverwalk

David Gilbert New Chef at Hotel Valencia Riverwalk

David Gilbert of Tuk Tuk Taproom

David Gilbert of Tuk Tuk Taproom

The Hotel Valencia Riverwalk has announced a change to the hotel’s culinary program and its signature restaurant, Citrus. David Gilbert, a StarChefs.com “Rising Star,” has been named the executive chef, and will supervise all culinary operations.

Gilbert brings with him a wide array of culinary works, including international tenure at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Vermeer in Amsterdam. Gilbert has worked in the kitchens of the The Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead, Atlanta, and the The Ritz-Carlton in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Other pursuits include time as the executive sous at the Inn at Perry Cabin by Orient-Express, where Gilbert initiated a fresh farmers market menu that gleaned national recognition. He was named chef de cuisine at St. Louis’ Eau Bistro in Missouri and executive chef of the Beverly Hilton’s landmark restaurant.

In Texas, Gilbert was at Luqa in Dallas, and at Sustenio at Eilan Hotel Resort & Spa in San Antonio. For his work at Eilan, he was recognized by the James Beard Foundation as a 2013 Best Chef Southwest Semi-Finalist. Most recently, he pursued his passion of Southeast Asian cookery and in the same year opened Tuk Tuk Taproom.

Gilbert’s addition will usher in a new restaurant concept and menu, which will be formally announced in the coming weeks. “We could not be happier as we add Chef Gilbert to our Valencia family and can hardly wait to see what he has in store for our guests,” says Chad Taylor, Hotel Valencia general manager.

Gilbert replaces Robbie Nowlin, former head chef, who recently stepped down to focus on his philanthropic efforts within in the community.

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A Hive of Activity on the Roof

A Hive of Activity on the Roof

A ride to the roof

A ride to the roof

Thyme grows in an irrigated wall.

Thyme grows in an irrigated wall.

It was a truly unique way of getting to lunch. You had to ride a cherry picker up to the roof over a portion of the Omni Colonnade, 9821 Colonnade Blvd. alongside I-10.

The jaunty trip above the pavement was long enough to give you time to take in the view, which included the verdant USAA campus to one side and subdivisions to the other.

Once you stepped out of the cage, the hotel’s executive chef, Sam Boisjoly, could be found serving up an array of treats. He stood surrounded by pots bearing everything from assorted herbs and peppers to tomatoes and edible flowers.

Those ingredients from the rooftop garden were then used in the chef’s menu for the day, which included jalapeño cornbread Caprese salad, lemongrass chicken satay and honey-roasted opa alongside a pitcher of cilantro watermelon lemonade.

Boisjoly’s pride was in evidence. In addition to being charge of food at the hotel, he’s also in charge of the garden, which he has tended with care, despite the unrelenting heat and exposure.

Jalapeños ripening in the sun.

Jalapeños ripening in the sun.

Also on the roof were the hotel’s bee boxes, filled with about 400,000 bees who have been busy making honey. During the press conference, the first harvest occurred with a suited beekeeper removing the honey-filled slats while exposed but interested visitors kept a respectful distance. The hotel plans on drawing honey twice a year, once in the summer and again in late fall.

All of this was to promote the hotel’s new approach of bringing a farm-to-table approach to the food being served. The farm of potted plants and  on the roof is being used in Bolo’s, the hotel restaurant, while the honey, which was extracted back on the ground, will be bottled and sold at the hotel.

And you don’t have to ride a cherry picker to taste the bounty that the hotel is harvesting.

Executive chef Sam Boisjoly (right) cooks with the foods he's grown.

Executive chef Sam Boisjoly (right) cooks with the foods he’s grown.

The hives are home to about 400,000 bees.

The hives are home to about 400,000 bees.

The view from the roof

The view from the roof

Posted in Restaurants0 Comments

Bruce Auden’s Cooking Up a Storm at the Gage This Weekend

Bruce Auden’s Cooking Up a Storm at the Gage This Weekend

The Gage Hotel

The Gage Hotel

No other time of the year lends itself to a road trip like summer. And what better destination than the Gage Hotel?

Located in Marathon, Texas (where it is usually about 10 degrees cooler than San Antonio temperatures) near Big Bend National Park, The Gage is a historic, mission-style hotel that will be hosting chef Bruce Auden of Biga on the Banks on Saturday as a part of the “Grilling at the Gage” series.

Auden and his right hand man, chef Martin Stembera, will be cooking up a storm in the Gage’s kitchen and will be joined by Auden’s wife, Debra, who will be baking bread for the event. After dinner will be a performance from singer/songwriter Kelley Mickwee.

Auden’s menu is as follows:

–Hill Country wild boar cooked with Asian spices wrapped in lettuces with bean sprouts, cashews and spicy sauces

–Jerk Scallop with Texas cheesy grits and pineapple rum relish

–Bandera Quail and grapefruit salad with avocado, walnut and bleu cheese

–Axis Venison and Lamb on corn pudding with “massaged” kale, fig relish and juniper sauce

–Sticky Toffee Pudding with bourbon fruit and English Custard

For  more information, visit gagehotel.com or call 800-884-GAGE.

Posted in Daily Dish, Restaurants0 Comments

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