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Brian West Sends Up Smoke Signals; SpiceSea Gourmet Moves On

Brian West Sends Up Smoke Signals; SpiceSea Gourmet Moves On

A few years back, I ran into chef Brian West at Boardwalk on Bulverde during a festival featuring food trucks from all over the region. It was a hot afternoon, but that wasn’t stopping the crowds from lining up in front of their favorites. The queue was particularly long in front of Davila’s BBQ, visiting from Seguin, proving once again that barbecue, especially in Texas, has an appeal that transcends the venue in which its presented.

It could be a food truck, a sit-down restaurant, a roadside stand or even inside the main Whole Foods in Austin. It doesn’t matter. We’ll eat it.

smoke1That day, however, West was hoping for a little more cutting edge food from the trucks. Pork belly, maybe, he said.

What he didn’t know then was that Davila’s was serving pork belly tacos that day. They just weren’t on the written menu.

West also didn’t realize then that he would one day be running his own barbecue food truck.

Smoke the food truck is coming, and West is going to be offering a few of those cutting edge items he wanted along with the traditional items you expect.

Brisket, pulled pork, Dr Pepper pork ribs, Shiner Bock-brined turkey and house-made bratwurst will all be available by the pound while you can also order Frito pie, guava-glazed crispy pig tails, braised pork belly with apple butter and poutine-style tater tots. Beer-can chicken, brisket sloppy joes on handmade bread and fried catfish will also be on the menu.

West’s barbecue bona fides include teaching it at the Culinary Institute of America during his tenure as an instructor. He also wrote a history of Texas barbecue for Bonnie Walker’s and my book, “Barbecue Lover’s Texas.”

You can try Smoke two different ways: It will be a food truck and it will also be a restaurant at 700 E. Sonterra Blvd., which is a little more than a mile from West’s old restaurant, Cafe Mariposa/Cafe Paladar.

For more information, visit www.smokethetruck.com

Celebrate St. Pat’s at Boardwalk on Bulverde

Boardwalk on Bulverde

Boardwalk on Bulverde

Smoke is planning to be at Boardwalk on Bulverde, 14732 Bulverde Road, during the fourth annual Feast of St. Patrick on March 13-15. Sponsored by George Killian’s, the event is free and open to the public.

Throughout the weekend, Boardwalk on Bulverde will feature a variety of food trucks serving food from all over the world. From Cajun cuisine to Vietnamese and seafood, you’ll find something to satisfy every taste. Trucks include Treats on Streets, Gracie’s Kitchen, Vietnamese Cuisine, Smoke, Kitchen Cabin, Gilbo’s Grill, Mr. Fish and the first food truck built by Cruising Kitchens, Wheelie Gourmet. Adults can get into the St. Patrick’s day spirit by enjoying George Killian’s Irish Red during the Feast.

March 13 entertainment will be provided by DJ Quake, while The Kerosene Drifters will bring live music to Saturday night.

Boardwalk on Bulverde is San Antonio’s first food truck park. Newly remodeled, it features a playscape for kids, a mobile school bus arcade, washers and a basketball hoop.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Susan G. Komen San Antonio. While at the Boardwalk on Bulverde, attendees can register for Race for the Cure, which will take place at the Alamodome on April 11.

The event will run Friday, March 13, from 6 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, March 14, from noon to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, March 15, from noon to 8 p.m. For more information about Boardwalk on Bulverde can be found online at www.boardwalkonbulverde.com or by calling 210-402-2829.

Beer Week at Random

Random Beer Garden, 11 Upper Cibolo Road, Boerne, is jumping on the San Antonio Beer Week bandwagon. The annual celebration runs March 21-28, and Random’s part includes tap takovers on the bookending Saturdays.

On March 21, the lineup will feature Boerne Brewery and two from Austin: Infamous and Uncle Billy’s. On March 28, try beers from Independence (Austin); Wild Bunch (LaGrange) and Pedernales (Fredericksburg).

One of the trucks featured on March 21 will be Chef Bully, the new venture from Cibolo chef David “Bully” Page, a winner on TV’s “Frankenfood.”

spiceseaSpiceSea Gourmet moves on

The SpiceSea Gourmet is moving down the road. The well-loved food truck will serve its last meal in Texas at the Point Park and Eats, 24188 Boerne Stage Road, this Friday evening. Sorry to see this one go.

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Sea Island Creates a New Special for Lent; Cocina Heritage Closes but Continues On

Sea Island Creates a New Special for Lent; Cocina Heritage Closes but Continues On

Sea Island Shrimp House is celebrating its 50th anniversary in part by offering a new fish special for Lent— Texas Fish and Chips — featuring crispy hand-breaded Alaskan whitefish marinated in Shiner Bock beer and served with coleslaw, hush puppies and your choice of fries or handmade potato chips for $8.49 all day throughout the Lenten season.

sea islandLent ends April 4 with Easter on April 5.

Sea Island Shrimp House, a family-owned and operated seafood company, is marking its 50th anniversary this year.

“Our restaurants are always bustling during Lent, and one of our goals as a company is to offer our loyal customers an excellent value on a delicious fish platter throughout this important religious season,” said Barclay Anthony, Sea Island CEO.

Say It Ain’t So, Cocina Heritage

Sometimes we get announcements that leave us bummed out, even when they’re written in the nicest way possible.

Cocina Heritage muffins

Cocina Heritage muffins

This notice from Silvia Alcaraz and Lupita Rivero, the two women behind Cocina Heritage, 118 N. Medina St., is one of those.

“I hope this message finds you in good spirits,” they write. “We are elated to share Cocina’s newest projects.  We have closed our doors to the restaurant due to the recently announced work extension of Medina street.”

Cocina Heritage will still be around, however, and they have these projects in the works:
1. We’ will offer a weekly supper take out service. More information to come, please add us to your contacts to avoid the spam folder (eventually we will use Mail chimp).
2. We will continue to offer catering services. Please keep us in mind for catered events and let us take your guest through the culinary tour just as you experienced it at the restaurant.
3. Lastly, We have an exciting project: we will host monthly long table dinners at Dorcol Distilling Company. (The first dinner is Feb. 20. For more information, click here: https://1stmoonchefdinner.ticketbud.com/firstmoondinner
Cocktail Conference Makes a Difference for Four Charities
Summer Raspberry drinkThe 2015 San Antonio Cocktail Conference was served up 168 different cocktail recipes to nearly 7,000 attendees in just four days.
But even more important was the fact that the SACC served up a $115,000 donation to four San Antonio children’s charities from the event’s profits. On Thursday, The Children’s Shelter, ChildSafe, HeartGift San Antonio and Transplants for Children were on hand to receive the money and celebrate the success of SACC 2015 with a light brunch and morning cocktails courtesy of the St. Anthony Hotel, Bohanan’s and Folc.
“We are thrilled to be able to make a significant contribution to our community through these charitable organizations that work so tirelessly to help save the lives of children,” says Cathy Siegel, executive director of Houston Street Charities, the organization behind the SACC. “It’s been at the heart of SACC since the beginning.
“Offering a beautiful Cocktail Conference to thousands of participants is great, but getting to present these charities with a check is the perfect garnish on the cocktail!”

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Feast on Seafood, Music During Lent at County Line

Feast on Seafood, Music During Lent at County Line

County Line, 10101 I-1o W., is serving up some seafood specials and music during Lent and beyond.

Catfish at County Line.

Catfish at County Line.

The following specials run from Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18, through Easter Saturday, April 4:

Fried Tortilla-Crusted Catfish Sandwich: a fried catfish fillet with a cornmeal-tortilla crust served on a freshly made bun with fries; available at lunch and dinner for $8.99.

Fried Tortilla-Crusted Catfish: a plate full of fried catfish with a cornmeal-tortilla crust served with two sides and whole-wheat house bread, in two portions: “hearty” for $13.99 and “lite” for $11.49.

Grilled Salmon: a grilled 12-ounce boneless Norwegian salmon fillet served with a side salad plus choice of fries, garlic mashed potatoes or baked potato for $19.49; 6-ounce portion priced at $15.49.

Salmon Salad: hand-tossed Caesar salad topped with a grilled 6-ouunce boneless Norwegian salmon fillet for $14.99.

Happy Hour runs Mondays through Fridays from 3 to 7 p.m., except Thursday, when it’s extended until 9 p.m. for open mic night.

If you didn’t give up music for Lent, check out the three free music series, all occurring on the restaurant’s patio with Happy Hour:

Open mic night with local singers/songwriters runs Thursdays from 6 to 9 p.m.’

Friday Night Live returns March 1 with full-service outdoor dining and acoustical music under the stars from 7 to 10 p.m. The lineup includes Joe Moreno (March 6), Kerosene Drifters (March 13), Luke Huggins (March 20), Meyer Anderson (March 27), Will Owen Gage (April 3), Johnny Kiser (April 10), James Pardo (April 17) and Jonathan Garcia (April 24).

Ancira Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram 2014 Live Music Series returns April 1 from 6:30 to 10 p.m. for its 15th season with Texas and national country music stars. It benefits the SA Food Bank.

Call (210) 641-1998 or visit www.countyline.com.

Enjoy these other Lenten offerings

Cantina del Rio, 1299 Gruene Road, Gruene Historic District at New Braunfels, (830) 515-1950 — The Lenten special is available Feb. 18 to April 2 and includes Fish and Shrimp Tacos seasoned and topped with avocado, cilantro, red onion, tomato and lime with your choice of homemade flour or corn tortillas. Fish tacos are also topped with South Texas Slaw. Available a la carte ($4.29) or as a plate served with two tacos, rice and refried beans ($9.99). 

Fried shrimp and fish at Gristmill

Fried shrimp and fish at Gristmill

Gristmill, 1287 Gruene Road, Gruene Historic District at New Braunfels, (830) 606-1287 — The Lenten specials are available Feb. 18 to April 2. The off-menu lunch special Monday through Friday until 4 p.. during Lent is the Shrimp and Fried Fish Platter with handmade hushpuppies and Hill Country Cole Slaw ($12.99). House favorites available all day:  Bronze Catfish, grilled with Cajun seasoning and topped with tequila lime butter ($14.99), Deep Fried Catfish ($13.99), Fresh Ahi Tuna & Fresh Catch at market price. 

Josephine St. Café, 400 E. Josephine St., (210) 224-6169 — The Lenten specials are available Feb. 18 to April 2. Gulf Shrimp Platter ($12.95), Salmon Salad ($13.95), Rainbow Trout ($11.95), Farm Raised Catfish ($10.95) and Fresh Catch at market price, all served the way you like it — fried, grilled, blackened or steamed with your choice of side. Friday’s Lunch Special features Fried Shrimp, a garden salad and choice of side for $8.99 until 4 p.m.

Mozie’s, 1601 Hunter Road, Gruene Historic District at New Braunfels, (830) 515-1281 — The Lenten special is available Feb. 18 to April 2. Fish tacos with fresh marinated tilapia (seasoned and grilled) comes topped with Mozie’s signature slaw, fresh avocado, diced tomato, red onion, roasted salsa, lime juice and a hint of cilantro. Three tacos served on corn tortillas for $11.99.

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Whataburger Beefs Up Its Lineup

Whataburger Beefs Up Its Lineup

Whataburger has been on a roll lately — with fries on the side.

Whataburger's Chicken Strip Monterey Melt

Whataburger’s Chicken Strip Monterey Melt

BuzzFeed.com sang its praises in the list, “30 Reasons Why Whataburger Is the Best Thing Ever.” And Thrillist.com recently declared Texas to be the best state in the nation for fast food in part because of the patty paradise Whataburger.

Now, the burger chain, which is headquartered in SA, has introduced the Chicken Strip Monterey Melt, a sandwich stacked high with three chicken strips, two slices of Monterey Jack cheese, grilled onions, poblano and bell peppers, and topped off with Jalapeño Ranch sauce.

It’s a carb-heavy treat that’s just perfect with a side of onion rings.

The sandwich was inspired by Whataburger’s Monterey Melt and will be available for a limited time. So get yours while it lasts.

You can get Whataburger’s Jalapeño Ranch as well as Honey BBQ and Bold BBQ sauces in H-E-B now. These join Fancy Ketchup, Spicy Ketchup, Original Mayo and Original Mustard as well as Creamy Pepper, Peppercorn Ranch and Honey Mustard sauces and condiments available under the Whataburger label.

In other Whataburger news, eight local stores will be among the 121 to compete in this year’s WhataGames competition, a unique and spirited contest designed to test the skills of Whataburger team members in three categories: operations, corporate history and customer service.

The teams, who beat out their competitors among Whataburger’s more than 760 restaurants in 10 states, will continue to prove their skills through a series of elimination rounds to earn one of the 24 coveted spots at the WhataGames Finals in Dallas in April 2015. Finalists will compete in three days of high-intensity competition for the Gold Medal and the esteemed title of WhataGames 2015 Champion. Whataburger will also award $165,000 in cash prizes to all members of the Gold, Silver and Bronze winning teams, which includes both team members who participated as well as those who stayed back to operate and manage their stores.

“Every two years, this unique competition and training event provides us the opportunity to further improve the ways we serve each other and our customers,” said Rob Rodriguez, senior vice president of operations Whataburger Restaurants LLC. “At Whataburger, our team members take pride in their work and love serving customers, which is why this event is a perfect opportunity to allow them to shine and reward them for their great work.”

The local teams are:

  • Unit 112, 7007 S. Zarzamora St., San Antonio
  • Unit 315, 3202 Wurzbach Road, San Antonio
  • Unit 790, 5760 W. Loop 1604 N., San Antonio
  • Unit 699, 6391 Babcock Road, San Antonio
  • Unit 352, 5075 Rigsby Ave., San Antonio
  • Unit 919, 4125 S. Loop 1604 E., San Antonio
  • Unit 949, 12510 SW Loop 410, San Antonio
  • Unit 1017, 123 Creekside Crossing, New Braunfels

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Joseph’s Storehouse Restaurants Have Closed

The Joseph’s Storehouse Restaurant and Bakery locations in San Antonio have closed, according to the restaurants’ website.

“We are sorry to say that we have closed our stores,” reads the message. No reason was given.

The restaurant and bakery at 3420 N. St. Mary’s St. had been known for a long time for its breakfasts and lunches plus its fine array of baked goods. The breakfast sandwiches, the spinach and strawberry salad and the Texas sheet cake with its near-perfect, nut-filled frosting were among the dishes that had their fans.

The second location was at 2611 Wagon Wheel.

The restaurant had been named after the biblical character Joseph, who used seven years of prosperity to build storehouses that would hold food during seven subsequent years of famine.

 

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Valentine’s Day: Dining Experiences to Love

Valentine’s Day: Dining Experiences to Love

Looking for a great place for the night out on Valentine’s Day? Here are some choices of special meals, offers, wines, flowers and more from San Antonio restaurants. Be sure to get your reservations in soon. The prices on the entries below do not include tax and gratuity.

18 Oaks at the JW Marriott, 23808 Resort Parkway, (210) 491-5825 — The Valentine’s dinner special will be offered 5 to 10 p.m. Feb. 13-14. The menu includes a first course to share: Oyster on the half shell to share and caviar, followed by a second course to share including goat cheese fondue. A petite serving of soup and salad will be followed by a surf and turf of Texas Wagyu Short Rib and Maine Lobster, followed by a dessert duo. Price is $95 a person, or $150 a person with paired wines.

Aldo’s Ristorante Italiano, 8539 Fredericksburg Road, (210) 696-2536 — Valentine’s dining will be from 5 to 11 p.m. Feb. 14 with a special menu for love birds. Appetizer options include a Caprese salad ($10), carpaccio ($14) and escargots ($12) while main course options include lasagna ($21), Pollo Gorgonzola ($28), Scampi di Mario ($29),  Salmone alla Griglia ($29), spring lamb chops ($35) and Filetto alla Griglia ($39). Desserts include Aldo’s famous cheesecake, tiramisu, chocolate cake and spumoni ($9 each). There will be a live piano performance and a festively decorated dining space.

Steak at Josephine Street Cafe -- atmosphere, downtown location.

Steak at Josephine Street Cafe — atmosphere, downtown location.

Antlers Lodge at the Hyatt Hill Country, 9800 Hyatt Resort Drive, (210) 520-4001 — Valentine’s dinner will be served 5:30 to 10 p.m. Feb. 14. The special menu begins with an amuse bouche followed by your choice of open-faced petite lobster rolls or chile-crusted antelope medallions. Prosciutto Wrapped Miniature Greens with Grilled Artichokes and Baked Goat Cheese will be served before your choice of cider-glazed rack of lamb, potato-wrapped grouper, Niman Ranch filet with pan-roasted morels or stuffed poblano chile with asparagus. Dessert is a dark chocolate mousse with almond-chocolate brownie and warm Belgian chocolate sauce. The price is $70 a person.

Arcade Midtown Kitchen, 303 Pearl Parkway, (210) 369-9664 — Arcade will be celebrating Valentine’s Day and more over the course of the weekend. Get the special prix fixe menu in addition to the regular menu on Feb. 12-13. The prix fixe menu is priced at $55 per person, with optional wine and cocktail pairings for an additional $35 per person. It includes dishes such as Spicy Beef Filet and Roasted Garlic Potato Puree, Buttered Up Lobster Tail with sweet potato mash, and Bitter Sweet Chocolate Kisses with sugar.  On Feb. 14, celebrate the restaurant’s second birthday with the prix fixe or dishes that commemorate the restaurant’s birthday. The prix fixe that evening is priced at $65 a person, or $35 extra for wine and cocktail pairings. On Feb. 15, Arcade will host its second annual Lover’s Sunday Brunch, with a prix fixe menu set at $30 per person, with optional wine and mimosa pairings for an extra $25 per person. The prix fixe menu will feature items such as Chocolate Dipped Pancakes with sweet cream and Drunken Love Strawberries, Steak Frites, and Oven Roasted Salmon with lemon and asparagus. 

Backyard Bistro, 167 Panther Ridge, Pipe Creek, (830) 535-4094 The special Valentine’s menu will be the only offering Feb. 12-14. Special dishes include Surf & Turf (Lobster Tail and Sirloin), Heart Shaped Rib-eye for Two, Flounder Stuffed with Jumbo Lump Crab Meat, Red Bird Farm Heart-Shaped Tequila Chicken, Grilled Eggplant Roulades Stuffed with Grilled Vegetables, T-Bone Steak, Red Bird Farm Pecan Chicken with Texas Wildflower Honey on a Bed of Pasta, and California Cioppino.

Biga on the Banks, 203 S. St. Mary’s St., (210) 255-0722 — The Valentine’s menu is offered Feb. 13-15. Reservations are tight for Feb. 14, but you can still get a table Friday or Sunday of that weekend. From the multi-course special menu, you can choose the following for the main course: Grilled beef tenderloin with herby mushroom pudding (foie gras can be added for $15),  seared Texas Gulf coast red snapper with a roasted Mediterranean vegetable terrine, grilled bone-in chicken breast with soft polenta and roasted root vegetables, or butternut squash tortellini with sage and pumpkin seeds. The price is $69 per person, or $89 with paired wines.

Boiler House Texas Grill and Wine Garden, 312 Pearl Parkway, (210) 354-4644 — Valentine’s hours are 5 to 11:30 p.m. Feb. 14. Chef Jeff’s three-course meal will be priced at $59 a person with optional wine pairings at $35 a person.

Bolo’s at the Omni Colonnade, 9821 Colonnade Blvd., (210) 691-8888 The Valentine’s special is available Feb. 13-14. The meal includes an appetizer of butter-poached black cod with wild mushroom ragout, followed by Beef Wellington for two. After an intermezzo of an edible Margarita, dessert will be a twist on strawberry shortcake. The meal is priced at $50 per couple or $25 a person.

The Brooklynite, 516 Brooklyn Ave., (210) 444-0707 — The Brooklynite is holding its second annual Anti-Valentine’s Day party, complete with $8 Whiskey Kiss cocktails and ’90s R&B and slow jams by SA’s own resident ladies’ man, DJ Steven Lee Moya. Nothing says Valentine’s Day Schmalentine’s Day like whiskey and R&B. Reservations recommended. The fun begins at 9 p.m. Feb. 14.

Cantina del Rio, 1299 Gruene Road, Gruene Historic District at New Braunfels, (830) 515-1950 — The Valentine’s fun will be served up Feb. 13-15 with happy hour prices. The chicken or beef fajitas marinated in a fresh squeezed lime marinade, served with beans, rice, real guacamole, fresh pico and your choice of fresh flour or homemade corn tortillas, is priced at $11.99 for one or $20.99 for two. Sip a frozen margarita or sangria or an ice cold beer on the deck tucked into the trees of Gruene Historic District.

Cover 3, 1806 N. Loop 1604 W., (210) 479-9700 — The chef’s special is called the Perfect Filet and includes an 8-ounce filet mignon with bacon goat cheese butter, It is topped with a seared scallop and served with garlic mashed potatoes for $34.95. Pair it with Davis Bynum Pinot Noir for $12 per glass of $48 per bottle.

Crumpets, 3920 Harry Wurzbach, (210) 821-5454 — Celebrate Valentines on Feb. 13-14 with a special menu that includes appetizer, soup, dessert and choice of entree, including Breast of Chicken with Montrachet Sauce or Shrimp Lyonnaise ($44 each); Salmon Fillet, Beef Tenderloin or Veal Scaloppini ($55 each); or Lobster Tail with Garlic Butter, Rack of Lamb Provençal or Beef Tenderloin with Rossini Sauce ($68 each). You can also arrange to have breakfast-in-bed delivered to you for $28.50 a person and includes eggs Benedict, fresh fruit, orange juice, coffee, fresh European pastries and croissants, and a complimentary card and a fresh flower.

Cured, 306 Pearl Parkway, (210) 314.3929 The Feb. 14 special features dinner for two with three courses for $120 per couple, or $180 with wine pairings. The first course includes Sweet Potato Brandade Fritters with Wild Arugula, Grapefruit and Warm Squash Bisque (Bread & Butter Chardonnay, Napa Valley). Next is Wagyu Ribeye for two from nearby Peeler Farms, served with Roasted Brassicas, Beef-Fat Fried Potatoes and three sauces (Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley). For the sweet finale, indulge in Oyster Chocolate Stout Ganache with Hazelnuts, Smoked Caramel Ice Cream & Huckleberries (Graham Beck Brut Rosé, South Africa).

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, 255 E. Basse Road, (210) 824-9463 — Celebrate Valentine’s Day Feb. 13-15  with a three-course prix fixe menu featuring a Filet Mignon paired with a choice of an 8-ounce lobster tail ($69.95) or Pecan Crusted Salmon ($59.95). Pair it with Fleming’s featured cocktail, French 75, for $10, or choose between  of the featured wine bottles, including the Goldeneye Pinot Noir, The Prisoner Red Blend or Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Artemis Cabernet for $85 each. Guests can also choose to end the night with a chef-inspired house-made Toasted Marshmallow S’more Cheesecake with rich dark chocolate marbling, strawberry coulis and chocolate fudge sauce for $9.95.

A Valentine''s dessert at Fogo de Chao.

A Valentine”s dessert at Fogo de Chao.

Fogo de Chao, 849 E. Commerce St., (210) 227-1700 — Guests who dine Friday, Feb. 13 – Sunday, Feb. 15 will receive a gift card entitling them to one complimentary lunch or dinner on their next visit.

Frederick’s Restaurant: 7701 Broadway, 210-828-9050; Frederick’s Bistro: 14439 NW Military Highway, 210-888-1500 — Four-course menu for $90 a person. The meal comes with your choice of appetizer, a salad, a dessert and the following entree options: Grilled Lamb Chops, Beef Tenderloin with Jumbo Shrimp, Parmesan Crusted Red Snapper with Avocado Relish, Sea Bass and Sea Scallops with Champagne Caviar Veloute, and Fresh Half Maine Grilled Lobster & Veal Tenderloin Shiitake Mushroom Sauce and Mushroom Risotto.

The Granary, 602 Avenue A, (210) 228-0124 — The Granary will be serving a special Valentine’s Prix Fixe menu on Feb. 13-14. Seatings will be at 5:30, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. each evening. The menu will be three courses priced at $55 per person. The menu will feature and include items like house-made charcuterie, squab and a special chocolate ganache dessert. The Granary’s brewmaster will also be selecting unique beers that can be paired with the three-course menu for a full dining experience.

Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar, 1287 Gruene Road, Gruene Historic District at New Braunfels, (830) 606-1287 — The Valentine’s special is available Feb. 13-15. Order an 8-ounce New York Strip accompanied by the Gristmill’s award winning bacon-wrapped stuffed Texas gulf jumbo shrimp. It’s served with a wedge salad and mashed potatoes for $24.99. Dessert options include Ultimate Turtle Cheesecake topped with fudge, caramel, pecans, chocolate chips and whipped cream.

Gruene Hall, 1281 Gruene Road, Gruene Historic District at New Braunfels, (830) 606-1281 — No matter when you celebrate with your Valentine, there’s music to be had

    Feb. 8: Sweethearts’ Gospel Brunch
    Feb. 12: Chubby Checker
    Feb. 13: William Clark Green
    Feb. 14: Shinyribs

Josephine St. Café, 400 E. Josephine St., (210) 224-6169 The Valentine’s special is available Feb. 12-14. Start with an iceberg wedge salad, topped with bacon, diced tomatoes the house-made chunky blue cheese dressing. Then order a 7-ounce bacon-wrapped filet. Choose any of the house-made desserts for your finale. The price is $22.95.

Shrimp Cocktail, a classic starter for a LOVEly dinner.

Shrimp Cocktail, a classic starter for a LOVEly dinner.

Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse, 123 N. Loop 1604 E., (210) 404-2221 The four-course special menu for Feb. 14 is priced at $89.95 a person and includes these entree choices: New Zealand Red Buck Chop, Grilled Blue Ribbon Filet, Smoked or Grilled Rosewood Rib-eye, New York Strip, Chardonnay-Poached Atlantic Salmon, Pan-Seared Ahi Tuna and Australian Cold Water Lobster Tail. The dining room opens at 4 p.m. that day and those with reservations for before 5 p.m. will receive a $10 discount.

Las Canarias at the Omni La Mansion del Rio, 112 College St., (210) 518-1063 — A multi-course Valentine’s special will be available in addition to the regular menu on Feb. 12-13 and will be the only offering Feb. 14. The tasting menu begins a choice of numerous starters including parsnip soup, hoisin-glazed short ribs, fried oysters and Parmesan gnocchi. After an heirloom carrot salad, you can choose from pan-seared grouper, roasted organic chicken, filet mignon and three cheese tortilloni. Dessert is a warm chocolate bread pudding. The price is $75 a person.

Las Ramblas at the Hotel Contessa, 306 W. Market St., (210) 298-8040 — Valentine’s dining is from 5 to 10 p.m. Feb. 14. A prix fixe menu begins with guests being offered a shared plate of Spanish cured meats, cheeses and olives, followed by their choice of Spanish Caesar salad with piquillo peppers and cracked olives or a creamy piquillo pepper and shrimp bisque.  Main course choices include a 14-ounce dry-aged prime ribeye steak, a double cut pork chop or a Texas redfish with three-olive salsa. Dessert choices include  a mulled wine-infused molten chocolate torte or “tres leches” cake with three milks, limon sorbet and a lemon berry soup. Price is $80 a person.

The Last Word, 229 E. Houston St., Ste 10, (210) 314-1285 — At The Last Word, lovers are encouraged to make their reservations for two at The Last Word website (http://thelastwordsa.com/reservations/), where they can special order their choice of bubbly from our list. Upon making reservations for one of the plush, stylish nooks, the staff will ensure guests receive their specified brand of bubbly and an unforgettable experience. Each reservation will also ensure a single red rose as part of the table setting- for the member of the couple who had enough foresight to make reservations, but forgot to bring flowers.

Liberty Bar, 1111 S. Alamo St., (210) 227-1187  — A special Valentine’s dinner menu will be available Feb. 13-14 with special items including Poulet Fendu Farci au Four, Pasta Puttanesca, Lamb Shanks with Garlic and Oaxacan Stew. A Valentine’s brunch will be offered 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Feb. 14-15. Brunch menu items include Hotel Waldorf Eggs Benedict, Hobart Ranch Sourdough Waffles with bacon, Hudson Clearwater Breakfast Salad and Triflin’ Fool a la Drew Allen.

Lick Honest Ice Creams and Bakery Lorraine at the Pearl Brewery — Lick Honest Ice Creams has teamed up with Bakery Lorraine to help lovers satisfy their sweet tooth. For the week of Valentine’s Day, Feb. 9-15, any customer who purchases a pint of Lick Honest Ice Creams will receive 10 percent off a box of Bakery Lorraine macaroons. When customers purchase a box of macaroons at Bakery Lorraine, they will receive 10 percent off a pint of Lick ice cream. All customers must present the receipt to receive the promotion.

Little Gretel, 518 River Road, Boerne, (830) 331-1368 — Celebrate Feb. 13-14. The special menu is priced at $49 a person and includes salad, a Chocolate Soup Inspired by Goethe’s Mum, entree choice of rib-eye and shrimp or chicken breast with chocolate-port sauce, and Strawberry Pavlova for dessert.

Luce Ristorante e Enoteca, 11255 Huebner Road, (210) 561-9700 — Celebrate from 4 to 10 p.m. Feb. 13-14. The chef-selected menu is three courses and includes plenty of options, from a soul-warming soup to Grilled Filet Mignon and decadent desserts, such as crème brulee. Price is $44.95 a person.

MAX’s Wine Dive, 340 E. Basse Road, (210) 444-9547 — Max’s Valentine’s dinner hours are 5 to 11:30 p.m. Feb. 14. The special is a three-course It’s Amore special priced at $39 a person with an optional wine pairing for $25 a person. Specials on sparkling wines and Champagnes will be offered all evening, and live music is planned from 8 to 11 p.m.

Mike’s in the Village, 2355-3 Bulverde Road, Bulverde, (830) 438-2747 — Mike’s is offering a four-course special in addition to the regular menu on Feb. 12-13. It will be the only option on Feb. 14. The meal begins with lobster bisque followed by your choice of salad. Main course options include lobster with tarragon butter, pepper-crusted filet mignon with wild mushrooms, seared duck breast or pomegranate, rosemary and garlic marinated grilled lamb chops. Dessert is a choice of flourless chocolate torte or chocolate strawberry crepes. The price is $65 a person. On Valentine’s evening, Jerry Bailey will perform from 6 to 9 p.m.

Morton’s the Steakhouse, 300 E. Crockett St., (210) 228-0700 — Morton’s will be open at 4 p.m. Feb. 13-16. The Valentine’s special is a steak and cold water lobster tail for $55.

Mozie’s, 1601 Hunter Road, Gruene Historic District at New Braunfels, (830) 515-1281 — The Valentine’s specials are available Feb. 13-15. They include a 6-ounce filet and a 16-ounce porterhouse T-bone. Both flat-top grilled, covered in Hoffbrau lemon butter and served with a blue cheese wedge salad and a choice of side ($29.95). To sweeten your dining experience, try specialty martinis, including Strawberry Cheesecake, Godiva Chocolate or Key Lime Pie.

Nao, 312 Pearl Parkway, 554-6484 — Nao will be offering a special Valentine’s menu Feb. 13-14 for $75 per couple, with an additional wine pairing for $20 per person. Additionally, each guest on those two nights will receive a complimentary sweet treat. The special is the Gaucho Kitchen prix-fixe, which with a choice between Chimichurri Octopus or Provoleta Asada and Faina, a chickpea flatbread served with mixed greens and sundried tomatoes. The menu continues with a choice of Ojo de Bife, Rescoldo, and Fritas, a fire-roasted 12-ounce rib-eye steak served with fire-roasted eggplant and peppers and homemade steak fries; or Chorizo and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breast with sweet corn “humita” tamal, grilled asparagus, and preserved lemon sauce. The dinner ends with a Chocolate Exotica dessert.

Oak Valley Vineyards, 27315 Natural Bridge Caverns Road, (830) 980-8033 — The special menu for Feb. 14 begins with a choice of soup or salad, followed by a choice of Smoked Peppercorn Rib-eye, Pine Nut and Herb Crusted Chilean Sea Bass, Pan-seared Beef Tenderloin, Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms or Airline Chicken Breast. Dessert along with champagne will be served on the patio with dancing. The price is $75 a person.

Ostra at the Mokara Hotel & Spa, 212 W. Crockett St., (210) 396-5817 — The special Valentine’s menu will be available in addition to the regular menu on Feb. 12-13, but it will be the only option on Feb. 14. It will be available for both lunch and dinner Feb. 14. It begins with a choice of appetizers that include asparagus salad, Crab Louie, seafood gumbo, New England clam chowder and lobster rangoon. Entree choices include beef tenderloin, Frenched chicken breast, Shrimp Alfredo, blackened redfish, and Togarashi Tuna. Dessert choices include vanilla creme brulee, flourless chocolate cake and red velvet cake. The lunch price is $45 a person plus $15 with wine pairings. Dinner price is $65 a person plus $25 for wine pairings.

Q Kitchen| Bar at the Hyatt Hotel, 123 Losoya St., (210) 510-4477 — From now through Feb. 14, the bar is offering a series of drinks specials made with Casamigos Tequila. The Sweet Amigo with muddled serranos is for the gents. The Casa Bella for the women is also tequila-based but has lime and Champagne to give it a lift. The Casa Amore for singles has reposado tequila with cinnamon and champagne, and the Migos Manhattan features reposado with creme de cacao, mole bitters and more.

Stone Werks, various locations — The Valentine’s special menu will be offered Feb. 13-15 with carnations being handed out on Feb. 14. Appetizer specials include barbecued oysters ($13.95), a Caprese salad ($8.95) and roasted tomato basil soup ($7.95). Main course options include Mongolian Glazed Salmon ($21.95), Slow Roasted Rotisserie Prime Rib ($25.95), Chicken Scallopini Toscana ($20.95) and a surf and turf of center-cut filet with shrimp ($34.95). A mini chocolate ganache cake ($7.95) is the dessert special.

Sustenio at the Eilan Hotel & Spa, 18603 La Cantera Terrace, (210) 598-2950 — A special Valentine’s prix fixe menu will be offered Feb. 13-14. Diners can choose the whole menu or only the dishes they want. The hotel is also offering a special packages for those who want to stay overnight.

Thai Topaz: 2177 NW Military Highway, (210) 290-9833 — Romance is on the menu at Thai Topaz’ Castle Hills location for their Valentine’s Day menu. The fine dining establishment will offer a select menu for $35 per person, highlighted by their famous Hibiscus tea, red curry mussels, and spicy mango delight. Lovers will also be able to select from two dessert options: red ruby water chesnuts or a decadent Godiva chocolate cheesecake with fresh strawberries. In addition to the memorable cuisine, guests will also receive a box of chocolates or commemorative teddy bear, a rose on each table, and candlelight to set the mood. As always, the service and locally owned flair will combine for a evening couples young and old can enjoy. Reservations are encouraged. For more information about Thai Topaz, please visit their website here.

 

 

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Tre Enoteca, Shuck Shack on the Horizon for Dady Group

Tre Enoteca, Shuck Shack on the Horizon for Dady Group

From the Jason Dady Restaurant group come two new concepts geared towards families. Tre Enoteca and the Shuck Shack will be added to the Dady’s list of eateries this spring.

Tre Enoteca, a Tuscan ristorante that will be located at The Alley on Bitters Road, will feature house-made extruded dried pasta entrees, a mozzarella bar, as well as wood-fired pizzas and a bar program that features old- and new-world wines and signature craft cocktails.

Oysters on the half shell.

Oysters on the half shell.

The Shuck Shack, which will be close to downtown on Grayson Street, will offer oysters galore, as well as a great outdoor play area for the kids. With menu items like fish and chips, clam chowder a la minut, lobster rolls and oysters (both raw and baked) and a bar menu that will offer craft beers and carefully selected wines, guests can enjoy fresh, vibrant seafood with expertly paired drinks all in one location.

Both establishments will offer the fresh, creative cuisine the Dady Restaurant Group is known for, while keeping the atmospheres effortlessly balanced between elegant and family friendly.

Tre Enoteca

555 W. Bitters Road

Shuck Shack

520 E Grayson. St.

 

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Tales from Culinaria’s Winter Restaurant Week

Tales from Culinaria’s Winter Restaurant Week

It’s no good feeling less than your best during Restaurant Week.

A Waygu burger with pesto, bacon aioli and fig jam at Tribeca 212.

A Waygu burger with pesto, bacon aioli and fig jam at Tribeca 212.

An overdose of allergies left me feeling blah with one to go on Culinaria’s first winter round of the popular promotion, but I was feeling anything but blah about two specials the week had to offer.

First up was a lunch trip to Tribeca 212.

Promise people a bowl of Champagne-Oyster Bisque with a fried oyster on top, and they’ll show up with an appetite in tow.

That’s  how it seemed Wednesday as a large group filled the spacious bar dining area at the Olmos Park restaurant.

That soup was sublime, with its mix of briny oyster and creamy tart soup base with plenty of black peppercorn stirred in. A garnish of a fried oyster with a touch of caviar just made the whole dish all the more luxurious.

Tribeca's mushroom pizza

Tribeca’s mushroom pizza

A mushroom pizza and a Wagyu burger cooked medium rare as ordered made for a substantial midday meal. The slightly sour taste of the thin pizza crust offered a pleasant complement to the creamy denseness of the cheese and the earthy richness of the mushrooms. The patty arrived with a series of toppings that seemed to reveal themselves in different bites; they included bacon aioli, fig jam and mozzarella.

Dessert was our choice of gelato flavors, so we tried one of each available: vanilla, wild berry and coconut. The vanilla was easily the best, with its creamy texture bursting with flavor. The coconut appear to have been made with coconut milk and had a nice layer of ice crystals adding to the delight of each taste. Whatever worked for the vanilla was missing from the dry, powdery wild berry mixture, which had frozen far too hard and was even a problem to spoon out of the Mason jar in which it had been served.

Thai Topaz's Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Thai Topaz’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Thai Topaz on Northwest Military Highway offered one of the best dishes I sampled during the week, a entree that could stand up with Tribeca’s Champagne Oyster Bisque. It was an entree of Emerald Salmon served in a tamarind-coconut milk sauce with a fan of avocado slices and asparagus on the plate. It was gorgeously plated and tasted every bit as good as it looked.

An appetizer of Thai Lettuce Wraps (Miang Kai) with a touch of fresh ginger on top was welcome, as was a fried banana with coconut ice cream. But I’ll be dreaming of that salmon until the next visit. It was well worth the $25 price for three courses of food.

Tribeca 212
4331 McCullough Ave.
(210) 320-0698
www.tribecadiolmos.com

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

 

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A Day Made for Dining on the River

A Day Made for Dining on the River

The terrace at Zocca Cuisine d'Italia.

The terrace at Zocca Cuisine d’Italia.

Dining on the terrace of Zocca Cuisine d’Italia is one of the most peaceful joys of living in San Antonio — and it almost doesn’t matter what the quality of the food is like.

The antipasti plate

The antipasti plate

As my colleague Bonnie Walker said during our lunch there Tuesday, during Culinaria’s Restaurant Week, it’s the perfect River Walk spot for introverts. That’s because you can be close to a particularly peaceful stretch of the water and not be bothered by throngs of tourists passing by. As we sat there for more than an hour, it seemed as if fewer than a dozen people walked by, and a couple of those were guests looking for the best place to enter the restaurant.

We were richly blessed during our visit, too. The menu was a comfort food feast. The weather was practically perfect. And we found ourselves entertaining several guests who were glad we’d invited them to partake of part of our lunch; I refer to a pair of ducks who gladly scooped up bits of flatbread left over from our antipasti plate.

Italian sausage pizza with wild mushrooms.

Italian sausage pizza with wild mushrooms.

If you head to Zocca this week, you can taste a prix fixe lunch menu for $15 that begins with an attractive array of antipasti, including slivers of prosciutto, salami and other meats, Gouda and a variety of soft and hard cheeses, and giardiniera as well as the ducks’ favorite flatbread.

We complemented the arrangement with a thin-crust pizza from the regular menu. It featured Italian sausage, wild mushrooms, roasted peppers and grilled onions sealed together by a finely melted blend of Italian cheeses, and each bite revealed new and wonderful flavors.

The main course featured fettuccine in an Alfredo sauce filled with peas, mushrooms and pecorino romano. Grilled chicken had also been added, but it was the least interesting of the dish’s treasures, as the meat was just a little too bland and tough to compete with the rest of the sauce’s riches. Thankfully, the portion was not so large as to induce a carb coma later in the afternoon.

Our lunch companions.

Our lunch companions.

That might have resulted if we had finished off the entire dessert instead of taking half of it to go. Here was another pizza, but this time it was made with chocolate. Both white and dark chocolate melted together atop a fairly savory cocoa crust. A sprinkling of irresistible streusel crumbs and a splash of caramel added to our enjoyment, though a sprinkling of fried parsley or something green was a rather odd garnish. After one taste, it was easily removed and no damage was done.

As we were enjoying the last minutes of peace before heading back to the reality of our work day, the pair of ducks came waddling over from the water to seek their fair share of the food being served. After all, we had enjoyed watching them as they swam around the passing boats, why shouldn’t they get a little something in return? I doubt feeding the fowl is encouraged at Zocca, but we sneaked the beautiful, brown lady bird a bite or two while tossing a few other crumbs over to her green-headed mate anyway. It made us feel like tourists in our own hometown, and I’m always grateful for that feeling.

Culinaria’s Restaurant Week continues through Saturday. Zocca is offering a three-course lunch for $15 and dinner for $35.

Zocca Cuisine d’Italia
Westin Riverwalk
420 W. Market St.
(210) 444-6070

Chocolate pizza

Chocolate pizza

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Good Food, Strange Service Mark the Beginning of Restaurant Week

Good Food, Strange Service Mark the Beginning of Restaurant Week

Culinaria’s first winter Restaurant Week began for me with a lunch trip to Mariposa at Nieman Marcus. It had been a while since I’d eaten in the store’s airy, sunlit dining room, so I was glad for any reason to make an overdue return.

White Bean Chicken Chili at Mariposa

White Bean Chicken Chili at Mariposa

I was even happier when our server presented us with an amuse bouche of warm chicken stock with a bright saltiness that went straight to the heart of my comfort zone. Too bad we didn’t see that server for another 15 minutes after that.  Yes, it was a holiday and the restaurant was full of families, shoppers, Restaurant Week diners and even a tiara party for young girls, but it was never seriously overcrowded.

Yet we overheard a manager, in almost exaggerated tones of exhaustion, bemoan to another table about how pressed they were. I’m sure those diners were suitably impressed that they had somehow earned his confidence. Yet they had been seated long after we were and were somehow served long before we were. Or should I say, loooooong before we were.

When we finally got our first course, we dove right in and practically inhaled the smoked duck risotto with strands of meat stirred into the rice, and a white bean chicken chili with a light but welcome touch of spice balanced by plenty of Monterey Jack over the tender bites of chicken.

Smoked Duck Risotto

Smoked Duck Risotto

The kitchen was already out of the red fish featured on the Restaurant Week menu, so I opted for Chicken Paillard served over mashed potatoes, a touch of fennel and a few bits of vegetables. The serving could not have been hotter, which was most welcome, and the breast meat was moist and accented by a chicken jus.

Two of my friends were served their short rib plates while I was presented my chicken. The short rib plate meant for the fourth of our group never appeared and the waiter, of course, was nowhere to be seen. Eat or wait until all were served? Our friend gave us permission to go ahead, but we still felt as if our table had been jinxed.

She finally got the her short rib as our plates were being cleared, and she did enjoy the tender meat atop jalapeño polenta.

At this point, the restaurant had largely cleared out and our service finally turned the corner. I had ordered the chocolate bread pudding, while my friends ordered what was billed as the “Culinaria Chocolate Chip Cookie Box.”

Short Rib with Gremolata

Short Rib with Gremolata

What I received was an attractive slice of warm white (not chocolate) bread pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a drizzle of chocolate sauce and berries, while my friends received, well, a rather sad, dry looking cookie with a smudge of powdered sugar on top. No, they didn’t want that cookie, so our waiter brought them bread pudding instead. They did manage to get the chocolate bread pudding, which they didn’t mind in the least.

After all was said and done, we paid our $15 for our three courses, glad to have helped Culinaria and glad to have been back to Mariposa. If you go, and I would recommend that you do, make reservations first. Then just be glad you won’t be visiting on a holiday.

Mariposa at Nieman Marcus
The Shops at La Cantera
15900 La Cantera Parkway
(210) 694-3550

The not-so-chocolate bread pudding.

The not-so-chocolate bread pudding.

 

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