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Daily Dish: Francesca’s New Look, New Direction

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dscf6413This has been a year of changes for Francesca’s at Sunset, Westin La Cantera Resort’s upscale dining venue with a view.

The restaurant’s formal relationship with chef and author Mark Miller ended earlier this year, said Donna Butler, spokeswoman for Westin La Cantera. Miller had been the consulting chef and worked with local chefs over the years to imbue the menus with his trademark Southwestern flavors.  The addition of fresh chiles, gourmet tamales and other items added an interesting new dimension to typical fine dining fare at that time.

Miller is still available as a consulting chef for possible future collaboration, Butler said. “We had a great relationship with Mark Miller over the years. Now, our chefs are going their own direction.”

This new approach includes building relationships with growers for buying locally and seasonally to produce what the culinary team calls “South Texas with Southwestern Flair.”

The resort’s executive chef, John Armstrong, and sous chef of Francesca’s, Eric Estrada, are planning to source 80 percent of their meat and produce from South Texas growers this year. Toward that goal, Armstrong has been working with Bob Mishler of Uncertain Farms in Seguin.

To go with the new (and evolving) Farm-to-Table prix fixe menu, hotel sommelier Stephen Krueger has bolstered the Texas-supported dining experience by featuring eight Texas vintners on his list of more than 170 wines. The dining room decor also has been refreshed, with new colors and eye-catching table glassware by San Antonio artist Gini Garcia.

The restaurant, noted for its romantic ambience and sunset views over the Texas Hill Country, is now open seven days a week for dinner.  The Farm-to-Table prix fixe menu, now available, offers a choice of one appetizer and one entrée, $39; paired with sommelier-recommended wine, $52.  Parking is free.  Francesca’s is at 16641 La Cantera Parkway. Call (210) 558-6500.

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