Tag Archive | "Culinaria"

Hot: Burgers, BBQ Sizzle for Crowd at Culinaria Finale

Culinaria 2014 Girls in line BBBThe sizzle of burgers, pits smoking, and the merciful existence of ice cold beer, water and lemonade gratified the hundreds of folks, who turned out for Culinaria’s Burgers, BBQ & Beer on Sunday.

Set with the backdrop of the historic Pearl Brewery building, the final event for Culinaria festival week showcased the works of cooks, chefs, helpers and beverage pourers and offered everything from spicy chicken wings and spicy  crawfish to grilled sliced Spam on burgers, brisket burgers and brisket quesadillas.

Chef Jason Dady and his crew from Two Bros. BBQ Market were serving up portions of brisket — and it was classic, with salty, peppery crust and luscious, tender meaty interior. No sauce for me, thanks — the beefy flavor on that ever-more-pricy cut of meat should not be muffled in any way!

Jesse chorizo burger Culinaria 2014

Arcade Midtown Kitchen’s triple-heat Green Chile and Chorizo Burger.

One really hot burger, courtesy of chef Jesse Perez from Arcade Midtown Kitchen was the chorizo burger topped with green chiles, dressed with a spicy sauce and salty crumbles of cotija cheese. I’d have eaten two, yes, but there was quite a bit more to come.

I was impressed with Green Vegetarian’s Earth Burger — my first taste. Once upon a time, a veggie burger was made with cooked, mashed soybeans, topped with slivers of onion and carrot and alfalfa sprouts. They were edible.  The Earth Burger has a good springy (I won’t say meaty) texture and flavor, and are a major leap above those we “enjoyed” back in the day.

Kiolbassa, it ain’t burger, but sausage is quite a classic barbecue item here in Texas. Far be it from me to pass up a bite or two of their good jalapeño or garlic sausage.

Brisket Burgers

Brisket Burgers

The Grand Hyatt put out brisket burgers, a using the flavorful brisket (85 percent) with a leaner cut (like strip loin) ground together after a little while in the smoker, then shaped and slapped on the grill over more smoke. I thought it was one of the most flavorful bites to be had.

Alamo Cafe brought brisket, for which we thank them. Not a purist’s version of Texas ‘cue, but a nice pair-up with Tex-Mex.  They served brisket quesadillas, cut into wedges and served with a refreshing spoonful of sour cream. They get two solid  “noms” for that dish.


After the event ended, the winners were in for popular votes for barbecue and burgers: Magnolia Pancake Haus and Jesse Perez for his Chorizo and Green Chile Burger. It was a great ending for an event that director Suzanne Taranto Etheredge said was the “best ever.”

Spicy crawfish from Luke sizzled with flavor.

Spicy crawfish from Luke sizzled with flavor.




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Keep on Food Truckin’

Messina Hof was one Texas winery pouring at Culinaria's food truck event.

Messina Hof was one Texas winery pouring at Culinaria’s food truck event.

A ham crepe filled with rosemary-scented Israeli couscous. A BLT crowned with a deep-fried soft shell crab. Beignets hot out of the fryer with a generous dusting of powdered sugar on top.

The line at Say.She.Ate waits patiently to eat.

The line at Say.She.Ate waits patiently to eat.

These were but three of the delectable treats people could sample during Culinaria’s third annual food truck event, which was held Thursday evening in the parking lot of the Alon Market off Northwest Military Highway. The event is part of this year’s Festival Week, which continues through Sunday.

A large crowd of people of all ages could be found strolling from truck to truck or from table to table in order to sample wines from Texas, California, Oregon, Italy, Portugal and other corners of the world. H-E-B also offered samples of charcuterie, fresh fruit, guacamole and more to pair with their wines.

There were plenty of activities for children, too, but the trucks were the main feature of the evening, as people stood in lengthy lines to try dishes such as the duck fat fries from Say.She.Ate and the duck confit tacos from Duk Truck.

Want sriracha in your Whoopie Pie?

Want sriracha in your Whoopie Pie?

SpiceSea Gourmet, Cheezy Jane’s, Crazy Carl’s, Slider Provider, YAO, Bite Street Bistro, Where Y’At, Crepe Nation, Rickshaw Stop, Stout’s Pizza, Dixieland BBQ, K Hill BBQ Company and Saweet Cupcakes were among the other trucks vying for people’s attention. The Whoopie Pie truck handed out samples of its sriracha-laced desserts.

A breeze made the temperate day even more enjoyable, aided by a refreshing beer or samples of well-chilled white wine, such as the Vermentino from Bending Branch Winery in Comfort  or the Chardonnay from Oregon’s A to Z Wineworks (also known as Gregg Popovich’s winery).

Culinaria continues Friday at 7 p.m. with the Best of Mexico at the Shops at La Cantera, 15900 La Cantera Parkway. For more information on this year’s festival, click here

Bite Street Bistro offers a soft-shell crab BLT.

Bite Street Bistro offers a soft-shell crab BLT.

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Spring Fun: Culinaria, Soul Food Festival, Crawfish and More!

Bluebonnets early 2014Spring in Texas is like no other: The bluebonnets and other wildflowers paint the fields and we enjoy our outdoor barbecues and brisket without breaking a sweat. It’s the time of year before we Texans hibernate and run for the AC.

Fortunately, it turns out that spring is also the season for eating and drinking, plus picking peaches and enjoying the outdoors. Get out your calenders and save these dates.

Culinaria Festival Week

Culinaria Pork Boudain and pickled shrimpOne of our favorite festivals of the year is, Culinaria’s festival week. This popular favorite encompasses a week full of wine dinners, food truck parties, tastes from Mexico and of course two of our favorites, The Grand Tasting and Burgers BBQ and Beer.

Culinaria prides itself on an “Eat. Drink. Give.” philosophy and being the city’s only nonprofit food and drink collaborative — eating, drinking and giving is exactly what they do. Being at the helm of the Chefs 4 Chefs brunch, Restaurant Week, the 5k Wine and Beer run and coming May 14-18, Culinaria Festival Week, are the main yearly events. Proceeds of help support those in need, whether it be scholarship’s to the Culinary Institute of America or food and drink industry employees and families in need of medical assistance.

Get your tickets by clicking here

Gospel and Soul Food Festival

The African American heritage of South Texas is rich and vibrant encompassing music, food, cultural celebration community, and family.  The La Villita Heritage Society held the first Soul Food Festival in 1999 and brought together all of these elements. Since then, the event has become an annual tradition.

Peach cobblerThe food part of this festival is all about foods we all love, from collards to cobbler. The Soul Food Festival will be at Maverick Plaza at La Villita, downtown, 6 p.m. – midnight May 16 and noon – midnight May 17.

More good eats, such as barbecue, fried fish, collard greens, and peach cobbler will be served by local food vendors throughout the festival — and everyone knows that “festival” doesn’t really happen in San Antonio without the “feast” to go with it.

The event is free to the public.  The public is encouraged to bring canned food items that will be donated to the  San Antonio Food Bank. Proceeds benefit the Eastside Boys and Girls Club. For more information, check out the details by clicking here.

Head to Fredericksburg, Hill Country for these!

Becker Vineyards Lavender Festival — It’s a beautiful time in the Hill Country and the Becker Lavender Festival is one of the prettiest places to have lunch and enjoy the many uses of this lovely herb — from culinary to craft, medicinal to decorative. See more on SavorSA at this link!

Crawfish Festival — On May 23-25 chef John Russ of Luke will be hosting a crawfish brunch. Menu items include: broiled crawfish salad, grillads and grits and Bananas Foster. Tickets are $55. For lots more information on this lively festival, find by  clicking here.

Looking ahead to peaches

Pick your own, shop roadside stands -- or attend the jamboree in Stonewall.

Pick your own, shop roadside stands — or attend the jamboree in Stonewall.

Remember peaches begin to come into season in May and there is nothing like a bite of Fredricksburg peach cobbler. Head up to the Hill Country to check out some of the peachy stands, orchards that allow you to pick peaches.

Stonewall Chamber of Commerce Hall, 250 Peach St., celebrates Texas Hill Country and its peaches June 20 and 21. with the Stonewall Peach JAMboree and Rodeo. Activities include a community parade the rodeo Friday night and dance Saturday night. Plus there will be great food, a baking contest and music.

Find more about the jamboree by clicking here.



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It’s a Lively, Laid-Back Picnic for Chefs 4 Chefs

Waiting for the event to start: Culinaria CEO Suzanne Taranto Etheredge (from left), Daniel Durmeier and Bruce Auden of Biga on the Banks and Jason Dady of Two Bros. BBQ Market and other restaurants.

Waiting for the event to start: Culinaria CEO Suzanne Taranto Etheredge (from left), Daniel Durmeier and Bruce Auden of Biga on the Banks and Jason Dady of Two Bros. BBQ Market and other restaurants.

Chefs 4 Chefs, the local organization of chefs helping other chefs in a time of need, staged a pop-up picnic Monday night in the sprawling patio area at Two Bros. BBQ Market.

Jesse Perez and his staff from Arcade Midtown Kitchen get chicken ready for the smoker.

Jesse Perez and his staff from Arcade Midtown Kitchen get chicken ready for the smoker.

Though the throngs filled out three stretches of picnic tables stocked with plastic ware, disposable plates and paper boats, the menu was not like most picnics you’ve probably been to in the past.

Texas Shrimp with Chile-Lime Rice Noodles.

Texas Shrimp with Chile-Lime Rice Noodles.

Instead of cold fried chicken, Jesse Perez of Arcade Midtown Kitchen offered Marinated Smoked Chicken. The watermelon was there, but Mark Bliss’ team from Bliss featured it in a salad with crab meat and a crackling sprinkle of salt. Robbie Nowlin from Las Canarias offered deviled eggs with touch of curry and a piece of crispy fish skin on top.

Curried Deviled Eggs with Crispy Skin

Curried Deviled Eggs with Crispy Skin

Stefan Bowers of Feast spiced up corn on the cob with green onion-chile butter, while Jorge Hernandez of Qui in Austin offered a Spanish potato salad complete with fish roe on top. Steve McHugh offered some of his  Cured charcuterie while Mark Weaver of Tre Trattoria was in charge of an artisanal cheese plate.

Crawfish Boil

Crawfish Boil

Bruce Auden of Biga on the Banks offered a summer rice noodle bowl spike with chile and lime before being tossed with Texas shrimp, cilantro and peanuts. The evening’s host, Jason Dady, offered a crawfish boil with sausage, mushrooms and potatoes. Emilio Soliz of Two Bros. closed out the savory dishes with cherry-glazed baby back ribs and mustard-smoked pork butt.

For those with a sweet tooth, John Russ of Luke offered Ms. Cora’s Strawberries with rum-soaked pound cake and whipped cream, while Johnny Hernandez sent along Fruteria fruit cups, which many of the attendees were planning on having Tuesday morning for breakfast.

The money raised from the event will go to help a local chef who is dealing with cancer and, as a result, unexpected medical bills. Culinaria helped organize the event, which featured Branchline beers and numerous wine selections.

Happy, hungry patrons.

Happy, hungry patrons.

The Chefs 4 Chefs

The Chefs 4 Chefs


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Culinaria Gets Wrapped Up in Cashmere and Cocktails

Culinaria helped shoppers get into the spirit of the season Thursday with its first Cashmere and Cocktails fundraiser at Saks Fifth Avenue in North Star Mall.

An evening o cashmere, cocktails and fun.

An evening o cashmere, cocktails and fun.

While shoppers browsed the store’s extensive selections from clothes to jewelry and from perfume to purses, they were able to sip handcrafted cocktails and spirits and sample tastes from several area restaurants and caterers.

James Moore from TBA on North St. Mary’s Street served up a Christmas cocktail made with San Antonio’s Cinco Vodka, lime and cranberry bitters as well as a potent potable made with gin, lime and rhubarb bitters.

Jeret Peña from the Brooklynite on Brooklyn Avenue offered a cereal milk cocktail flavored with applejack and a fresh nutmeg grating. Another favorite was a combination of Prosecco with Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur.

Caprese snacks from the St. Anthony.

Caprese snacks from the St. Anthony.

Food included a black bean soup from Max’s Wine Dive, a quinoa salad from Charlie Wants a Burger, and Caprese salad on a skewer from the St. Anthony Hotel. Cocina Heritage Catering offered meaty sliders with a fiery habanero salada as well as a fresh salad with nuts and mandarin oranges.

Also on hand was designer Rebecca Minkoff, who appeared for a reception and handbag signing. The line to meet and greet her was long, as fans lined up to talk fashion.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Culinaria’s Education Center and Garden program.

The St. Anthony staff prepares snacks.

The St. Anthony staff prepares snacks.

The caterers from Cocina Heritage.

The caterers from Cocina Heritage.

Jeret Pena shakes up some spirits.

Jeret Pena shakes up some spirits.


Rebecca Minkoff (right) with a fan.

Rebecca Minkoff (right) with a fan.

James Moore from TBA.

James Moore from TBA.

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Welcome Fall with La Cantera Art Fest, Culinaria Brunch, Demos

The weather is cool and what better time to head to the Shops at La Cantera for art, wine tastings, chef demos and brunch.

LaCanteraArtFestThe Shops at La Cantera Art Festival is Oct. 18-20. This free event at the Shops, on Main Street, is a juried, open-air art festival featuring national fine arts and craftsmen displaying handmade ceramics, glass, jewelry, metal, work, mixed-media, paintings, sculpture, photography, textiles, wood and more.

Friday, Oct. 18: 5 – 9 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 19: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

In conjunction with the Art Festival, Culinaria will also host informative, fun and tasty opportunities for you to support the Culinaria Center & Gardens featuring music, chef demonstrations, wine tasting, and a Garden Brunch.

Culinaria Events

Chef Demo and Wine Tastings: $20 cash bar from 12 p.m. – 9 p.m. Oct. 19

The Garden Brunch:  $30  11-a.m. – 2 p.m. Oct. 20.

For tickets to Culinaria events, click here.


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A Winning Combination: Chefs & Cellars

Chefs and Cellars wine glass

San Antonio chefs paired up with cellar masters Sunday night for an event staged by Culinaria every year near the beginning of the fall season.

This winning combination invites wine collectors to bring out rare and wonderful bottles to share while chefs and their crews do some pretty fancy footwork marrying food to wine.

This event, at $300 per ticket, is one of Culinaria’s most sought-after and usually sells out early. Surprisingly, it doesn’t call for dressing up — business casual is the stated attire. But there’s nothing casual about the expectations of the guests who gathered in the skills kitchen of the Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio.

Our table had high expectations of (as well as confidence in) our cellar master, wine expert and Vintages 2.0 owner Fernando “Woody” de Luna, a longtime wine writer and certified wine educator as well as wine retailer who recently marked 35 years in the wine business in central Texas.

Ceviche of Clams and Mexican Bay Scallops

Ceviche of Clams and Mexican Bay Scallops

De Luna is respected especially for his great knowledge and appreciation of Old World wines, especially the Rieslings of Germany, Alsace and Austria, the wines of France — especially Burgundy and  Champagne — as well as Spanish Rioja and Sherry and Italy’s Tuscany and Piedmont.

Our chef, Jesse Perez, is the chef and owner of Arcade Midtown Kitchen at the Pearl. His menu reflected his love of Southwest and interior Mexican flavors and spices, locally sourced ingredients, such as Bandera quail, Mexican sea scallops, lamb and more. His starter was a Ceviche of Clams and Mexican Bay Scallops, a cool but crisply flavored mélange of tender, marinated scallops with a chamomile and green-apple sauce, brioche crouton and citrus.

While one might expect that the chef and cellar master had put their heads together over many tastings and discussions to come up with the pairings, Perez simply asked for the wine list, brief explanations of what de Luna planned to bring — then did some footwork on his own.

“There are two ways to pair wines with food — you can contrast the flavors or match them,” Perez said at the beginning of the meal. His decision was to match them. Hence, the chamomile and green-apple flavors in the ceviche, which echoed the bright, crisp flavors of the Pierre Gimonnet Brut NV Blanc de Blancs Cuis 1er Cru Magnum.

Lineup of wine from Woody del Luna of Vingates 2.0

Lineup of wine from Woody de Luna of Vintages 2.0. Photo courtesy Vintages 2.0

De Luna’s first offering for the evening and was not one of the big-name brands of the Champagne region. Rather it was a grower Champagne, which means it is a product of the men and women on their own estates, growing their own grapes, as de Luna described. This was a beautiful, balanced sparkler well-suited as an aperitif all by itself, as well as a worthy companion to the bright colors and fresh seafood in the appetizer.

Fernando "Woody" de Luna

Fernando “Woody” de Luna

The courses continued with similar success. Bandera Texas Quail with Smoked Chile was served with a spectacular and rare 2010 Schloss Gobelsburg Riesling Tradition Kamtal Magnum, from Austria. The wine was dry, yet the fruit gave an impression of sweetness that was a good foil for the dark chile sauce as well as the spicy bite of a white bean hummus.  The food was well thought out — and a delicate little chicken-fried quail leg-quarter was a table favorite. But in this case, the wine was the wonder: Its complexity of flavor, acidity, vinous characteristics and more cascaded over the palate and unfolded “like a waterfall” as de Luna described it. “I love the purity of wines in the Old World,” he said. It was sheer gold in a glass.

Butter Poached Cold Water Lobster and Prawns

Butter Poached Cold Water Lobster and Prawns

In the next course, Perez came back with a lovely Butter Poached Cold Water Lobster and Prawns, an excellent choice for the 2006 Chablis Grand Cru Vaudesir Domaine Billaud Simon Chablis, France Magnum.

Chablis is a wine that, for me and most other Old World wine enthusiasts, is one of the best expressions of the Chardonnay grape. (The other being blanc de blancs Champagne.) The elegance of this Grand Cru wine, dry yet so full in character, vibrant minerality and other expressions of the famous terroir, showed that a Chardonnay doesn’t have to sparkle to be a classic accompaniment lobster.

Also, as de Luna pointed out, this wine, which comes from vineyards at the northern limit of the region, is one of only seven vineyards allowed to carry the Grand Cru designation.

While the lobster in this dish was sweet and tender, even this classy crustacean was nearly upstaged by Perez’s inspiring (as in, let’s go home and make some now) Gazpacho Blanco and Toasted Almonds that provide the brothy foundation for the dish. The “untraditional garnishes” included some unusual grapes that Perez had picked up at Central Market that day, called ‘witches fingers.” Dark and purple they were — and elongated. But their witchy presence was an artful addition to the white gazpacho.

Perez chose lamb — barbacoa, chop, loin and belly — for his third course. The rich meat was surrounded with an array of grilled and roasted vegetables that added color and tamed the fattiness of the course. The tender and flavorful barbacoa seemed to be a table favorite — “I’d buy a couple of pounds of this and take it home for breakfast tacos,” said one approving guest.

Chef Jesse Perez

Chef Jesse Perez

Spain was the Old World region from which De Luna chose his wine. A 1998 Gran Reserva 904 La Rioja Alta, Haro, Spain, Magnum was the kind of red wine that lamb wants — as the Spaniards know so well. The wine was a sleek version of this famed Spanish red, robust and smooth and was compatible with each of the versions of lamb on the plate.

We ended this culinary cruise with a cheese board, Sweet and Savory, which ranged from an excellent ricotta cheesecake brownie to the chef’s selection of cheeses, fruits and nuts. A fun surprise was to find a bit of dark, fragrant honey in the comb that was provided by one of our table mates, Robert H. Holliday. His longtime hobby of beekeeping added an intensely sweet ending to this meal.

With the cheese board came de Luna’s second Riesling of the evening, the 2001 Erdener Pralat Riesling Auslese Gold Kapsule Weingut Monchoff, Mosel, Germany. The “Auslese’ in the name lets you know that this is one of the sweeter styles of the wine, and with the rich cheeses and nuts, it was a fine match.

As the evening drew to an end, the various tables, set up throughout the kitchen and dining areas, each  custom  decorated by the hosts, gave out with loud cheers for their wines, chefs and crews. It was praise well-deserved.

Other chef/cellar master teams included chef/restaurateur Jason Dady with Phil Seelig and Hien Nguyen; John Brand, chef of Omni Hotels restaurants Las Canarias and Ostra with Gabriel Guajardo; chefs James Moore and Jeff White with Dr. Richard Becker of Becker Vineyards and Geronimo Lopez-Monascal, executive chef at NAO, with Dr. Joe Becker, Becker Vineyards.

Tipperary Cocktail, from Arcade Midtown Kitchen, a barrel-aged concoction with a supersized, hand-hewn ice cube.

Tipperary Cocktail, from Arcade Midtown Kitchen, a barrel-aged concoction with a supersized, hand-hewn ice cube.

To reach Fernando de Luna at Vintages 2.0, call 210-410-0296.


Photos by Bonnie Walker

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Tre Trattoria Dishes Up Four Courses of Flavor During Restaurant Week

As the extension of Culinaria’s Restaurant Week nears its end, wonderful flavors keep pouring forth from participating kitchens. On Thursday night, several friends and I settled in to Jason Dady’s Tre Trattoria Alamo Heights location for four courses of welcome rustic Italian dishes, priced at $35.

Tre Trattoria's Caesar Salad

Tre Trattoria’s Caesar Salad

We started with a pair of favorites, an old-fashioned Caesar with plenty of garlic and a punch of anchovy in the dressing, not to mention a fried Parmesan wafer perched on top, and a trio of antipasti that included silky golden beets, a refreshing white bean salad and the delightful crunch of farro salad.

As generous as these starters were, we were surprised at the size of the pasta dishes that followed. A heaping serving of handmade tagliatelli was tossed with earthy oyster mushrooms and pecorino to create a dish with an almost meaty intensity. Deftly made gnocchi seemed both light and substantial with a gorgonzola cream sauce adding a rich tang.

Tagliatelli with oyster mushrooms

Tagliatelli with oyster mushrooms

Our main course choices included a 5-ounce salmon fillet with orzo as well as a delicate rainbow trout with a parsley-caper salsa on top. One of my favorite dishes, roasted organic chicken, was served just the way I like it, with crisp skin and succulent meat down to the bone. A touch of chile rubbed into the skin made it even better, while the caponata on the side won raves all around. (A Tuscan ribeye for $20 extra is also available.)

For dessert, the popular choice was the signature Nutella x 3, with its airy mousse alongside a dense tart with ganache, all filled with that one-of-a-kind chocolate-hazelnut combination. But the other option, ricotta cake with mascarpone, was a welcome surprise to my friends, who had not tasted it last year on the same menu. The name might lead you to think of cheesecake, but it was more like a warm, rustic yellow cake (like a rum cake without the rum, as our server described it). A chiffonade of basil and slivers of orange on top worked together to create an equal to the mighty Nutella dish that left us all satisfied.

Roasted Organic Chicken with Caponata and Charred Lemon

Roasted Organic Chicken with Caponata and Charred Lemon

As good as the food was, special mention must be made of the service. One of my friends, who was using a cane, needed a little assistance navigating the restaurant and its environs. Dady’s staff went out of their way to accommodate her. It’s what any good restaurant should do, though not enough follow through.  That attention to a patron’s needs earns a lot of respect, Restaurant Week or not.

Culinaria’s Restaurant Week continues through Saturday at the following places:  Azuca, Biga on the Banks, Bin 555, Boardwalk Bistro, the Boiler House, Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse, Myron’s Prime Steakhouse, and both Tre Trattorias.

Ricotta Cake with Mascarpone

Ricotta Cake with Mascarpone

Tre Trattoria Alamo Heights
4003 Broadway
(210) 805-0333
Lunch or brunch and dinner daily.


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Satisfaction Is on Boardwalk Bistro’s Restaurant Week Menu

My friend Gail had raved about Boardwalk Bistro’s Restaurant Week menu last year, so it landed near the top of my list for this year’s celebration. I couldn’t fit it into last week’s hectic schedule, which made me glad when I learned that it was one of the places that decided to extend their special menu another week.

Pimiento ricotta -- pure pleasure.

Pimiento ricotta — pure pleasure.

Gail and I headed out on Tuesday night and were almost immediately faced with a dilemma. There were six first-course options and, well, we wanted as many as we could get. Our server solved our problem by announcing that we could get an extra appetizer for $5 apiece, so we loaded up on four of the six choices and proceeded to fall into a state of comfort food bliss.

My first plate was the fancifully labeled “pimiento ricotta atop toasted baguette,” which we folks in Kentucky would call pimento cheese on toast. Mighty good it was, too. The addition of a fried herb and a balsamic drizzle made the dish a mash-up of Italy and the Old South, but it worked because it was all about presenting these favorite flavors in a way where they all complemented each other.

A seared scallop with grapefruit butter

A seared scallop with grapefruit butter

A velvety corn soup arrived with a crab beignet in the center and chunks of ham suspended in each spoonful, while a romaine salad featured a generous amount of duck confit, a touch of duck bacon and a light hazelnut dressing. Our final starter was a perfectly seared scallop crowned with slivers of nectarine and served with a dollop of grapefruit butter and a pistachio vinaigrette that was so nutty you wanted to dredge each voluptuous bite of that shellfish through it. (And we weren’t through with those irresistible pistachios.)

Because we were sharing a bottle of robust Bogle Phantom, made with Petite Sirah and Zinfandel, we opted for the two red meat entrée options. One was Lamb Wellington, with tender shank meat presented with a rustic apricot sauce and scallion mashers. It was a toothsome variation on the usual serving of meat and potatoes. The other was a Petite Filet Benedict, in which a 5-ounce cut of beef tenderloin had been wrapped in prosciutto and served with a poached quail egg and hollandaise. The beef arrived medium rare to order and practically melted in your mouth, with or without the unctuous sauce on top. Rosemary potatoes and asparagus spears rounded out the plate.

Petite Filet Benedict with a poached quail egg

Petite Filet Benedict with a poached quail egg

The final option on the Restaurant Week menu is Cornmeal Encrusted Red Fish.

From the dessert menu, we chose a nut-lover’s fantasy — pistachio cake with pistachio cream and pistachio ice cream — and a seductive chocolate torte with a bourbon caramel sauce. Both plates were cleaned before we left.

Most every dish offered as a fine reminder of the good food that comes out of Boardwalk Bistro’s kitchen on a regular basis.

Culinaria’s Restaurant Week continues through Saturday at Boardwalk Bistro as well as Azuca, Biga on the Banks, Bin 555, Boiler House, Myron’s Prime Steakhouse and both Tre Trattorias.

A chocolate torte with bourbon-caramel sauce

A chocolate torte with bourbon-caramel sauce

This Friday, you can hear Jim Cullum’s Band at Boardwalk Bistro while enjoying the Restaurant Week menu.

Boardwalk Bistro
4011 Broadway
(210) 824-0100
Lunch: Monday-Saturday; Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday



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Kirby’s Leads the Way with an Extension of Restaurant Week

Which was more fun, having a chance to continue exploring Restaurant Week offerings with a dinner at Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse or being seated a table next to Tim Duncan?

Kirby's gnocchi with a shallot-prosciutto cream.

Kirby’s gnocchi with a shallot-prosciutto cream.

Actually, it was a tossup.

It’s hard not to like a restaurant that extends its special menu an extra week so people can get more tastes of what the city has to offer. And for four years now, Kirby’s has led the way in doing just that.

They also have developed quite a robust menu with plenty of variations, so that you can mold the meal to suit your appetite. Want the Filet Oscar but want a steak a little more substantial than the 5-ounce cut offered? For a little extra, you can have it in two larger sizes. Want an extra appetizer? Try the house-made gnocchi for an added $7.

We tried the latter and were rewarded with a bowl of fried puffs of potato with a ladleful of cream sauce boasting flavors of shallot and prosciutto. A few grinds of black pepper added a welcome touch of heat.

Australian rack of lamb

Australian rack of lamb

After we polished that plate off, we were ready for a serving of wild boar sausage with an Italian peppers and onion sauce, which was rustic and heartily robust, as well as a ramekin of escargots in a sun-dried tomato-garlic butter that begged to be sopped up with bits of the puff pastry sheet that arrived on top.

Entrées were a mixed lot. Australian rack of lamb featured four chops that had not been properly trimmed before cooking. So, while the flavor of the meat shone, especially with a touch of veal demi-glace on the plate and some shiitake mushrooms, too much effort was expended in cutting off a tough layer of fat on the outside that should have been removed before cooking. Pan-sautéed Veal Ladybird was cooked a perfect medium-rare, as ordered, with the fork-tender medallions gaining a lift from the tarragon and the cream in the Sauce Béarnaise that covered both it and some braised leeks.

Veal Ladybird with a Sauce Bearnaise

Veal Ladybird with a Sauce Béarnaise

Other entrée options included Parmesan-crusted Atlantic Salmon, Peppered Prime Sirloin and the aforementioned Filet Oscar with crabmeat, asparagus and more of that Sauce Béarnaise. Each table choosing the Restaurant Week menu also gets a plate of mushrooms, mashed potatoes and vegetables.

For dessert, my friend fought hard between key lime pie and Kirby’s signature Chocolate Spice Cake. The latter won out, and it proved to be a winner, with its touch of nutmeg and coffee in the warm, chocolate-rich cake and a scoop of refreshingly cool vanilla ice cream on top.

Meanwhile, the kitchen kindly obliged my request for a simple medley of berries topped with a drizzle of heavy cream. I know of no dessert so rewarding and am grateful to the staff for making the substitution.

Kirby's Chocolate Spice Cake

Kirby’s Chocolate Spice Cake

It was at some point during the entrée that my friend pointed out Tim Duncan sitting next to us. I guess I was too absorbed in my veal to notice. Or perhaps I just couldn’t see in what is one of the most dimly lit restaurants in town. Despite the lack of natural light, there were plenty of eyes in the place on him. I’m sure the Spurs star wanted to enjoy a quiet night out with friends, but the thrill of having him nearby was palpable. He also graciously posed for at least one picture with a young red-haired girl who will likely be the envy of her class when she returns to school this week and shares her version of their encounter.

Culinaria’s Restaurant Week continues at a number of places around town. In addition to Kirby’s, the list includes Azuca, Biga on the Banks, Bin 555, Boardwalk Bistro, the Boiler House, Myron’s Prime Steakhouse, and both Tre Trattorias.

Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse
123 N. Loop 1604 E.
(210) 404-2221
Dinner: Daily

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