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Give Your Ranch Dressing a Lift with Jalapeños and Goat Cheese


Who doesn’t love ranch dressing?

On a trip to the Terrace Grill at Riven Rock Ranch in Comfort a few months back, one of my favorite tastes in an evening of fine food was chef Joseph Brantley’s Jalapeño-Goat Cheese Ranch Dressing, which was used on a salad and as a dipping sauce alongside an order of fried avocado.

A salad dressed with Jalapeño-Goat Cheese Ranch.

A salad dressed with Jalapeño-Goat Cheese Ranch.

I’ve since made my own version of the dressing, which I vary slightly depending on how I plan on using it. For salads, I cut the amount of goat cheese in half. The dipping sauce is richer and thicker, perfect for dipping anything from carrots and celery stick to fried zucchini strips.

It’s also a chance to use ingredients fresh from the garden. I flavored my last version with a red serrano instead of the jalapeño as well as the chives and parsley.

Jalapeño-Goat Cheese Ranch Dressing

1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3-6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled, depending on use
1 jalapeño, minced, or less, to taste
2 tablespoons chives, minced
3 tablespoons celery leaves or flat-leaf parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons vinegar

Jalapeño-Goat Cheese Ranch Dressing

Jalapeño-Goat Cheese Ranch Dressing

In a jar with a secure lid, add buttermilk, mayonnaise, goat cheese, jalapeño, chives, celery leaves, salt, pepper, garlic and vinegar. Shake thoroughly and check flavor, adjusting to taste. If dressing is too thick, add a splash more buttermilk. If dressing is too thin, add more goat cheese.

Refrigerate leftovers. The dressing will keep up to 3 days.

Makes about 2 cups dressing.

From John Griffin

 

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Restaurants and Reservations, an Easy, Delicious Combination for Thanksgiving Dinner


Turkey, it’s what’s for dinner at Thanksgiving. But it’s not all that restaurants are offering.

This is the 2012 listing.

Why stress making Thanksgiving dinner when you can have the big meal served to you at a restaurant — and no dishes to wash afterward. There are plenty of options in San Antonio to meet all prices and tastes, including the following list. Reservations are required at all places, unless otherwise noted. Tax and tip are not included in the prices listed.

Achiote River Cafe & Bar at the Grand Hyatt, 600 E. Market St., (210) 451-6171 — Thanksgiving dinner will be served noon-10 p.m. The buffet starts with Forest Mushroom and Chestnut Bisque and salads: Organic Mixed Winter Greens, Waldorf, fresh fruits and compotes, whole grains and dried fruits, and select seafood. Specialties include Roast Pepper Crusted Tom Turkey and Pan Gravy, Smoked Rack of Pork with Chutneys and Relishes, Stuffed Planked Scottish Salmon, Corn Bread Stuffing with Grilled Poblanos, Crushed Garlic Scented Yukon Potatoes, Cauliflower au Gratin, Coconut Honey Sweet Potatoes, Ratatouille, and Mussels a la Cubana. Pastries and breads round out the array. Cost: $45 for adults, $22.50 for children 6-12. Menu price does not include an 18 percent tip, tax or alcoholic beverages.

Auden’s Kitchen, 700 E. Sonterra Blvd., (210) 494-0070 —Thanksgiving service will be 11 a.m.-6 p.m. The meal will be buffet style including your choice of one entrée. Appetizers and salads include antipasti, veg wrap pinwheels, stuffed mushrooms, roasted beet salad, Bibb salad with red wine vinaigrette, green lentil and marinated veg salad and Caesar salad. Entree options:  Sage roasted turkey, cornbread and Tasso ham stuffing;  Cinnamon and Harrisa roasted turkey, sweet potato hash, brussel sprouts with Spanish chorizo;  Ribeye with bacon and onion stuffed potato; and Salmon with lemon risotto and sautéed fennel.  The dessert table includes apple butter pumpkin pie bars, sweet potato bundt cake with marshmallows, peanut butter crunch chocolate bars, bourbon pecan pie, apple crumble pie bars, assortment of cookies. The price: $38.95 for adults or $18.95 for kids 12 and under.

Biga on the Banks,203 S. St. Mary’s St., (210) 225-0700 — Thanksgiving dinner hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. The Thanksgiving dinner includes a selection of appetizers and salads, plus a choice of of the following entrées: Herb Roasted Organic Turkey, sourdough sage and apple smoked bacon dressing, green beans; Jerk-rubbed Organic Turkey, Jamaican rice and peas, plantains; Pepper Roasted Beef Ribeye, grilled Idaho with fixings; braised pork with green chiles and white beans, mustard greens, fried egg;  Organic Nutty Brown Farms Eggs Benedict, English muffin, grilled baby romaine, Canadian bacon; Texas Brioche Toast, three berry compote, crunchy bacon, maple syrup; Crab and shrimp croquettes, basil aioli, frisee, marinated olives and beans; Guajillo-cranberry glazed Red American Snapper, butternut squash pepita risotto cake;  and a vegetarian dish. For a $5 supplement, get baked potato au gratin, Green beans with crunchy onions, garlic mashers, sourdough dressing, country potatoes, scrambled eggs, and pork braised beans. A children’s menu and a dessert station also offered. Cost is $58 for adults and $27 for children 12 and under.

Thanksgiving dinner at Antlers is one of three dining options people have at the Hyatt Hill Country this year.

Crumpets, 3920 Harry Wurzbach Road, (210) 821-5600 — Thanksgiving dinner will be served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Chef and owner François Maeder is preparing traditional Thanksgiving dishes with his own taste of Europe. Guests can look forward to a menu with roasted turkey  and baked ham with all the trimmings ($28.50), as well as Maeder’s Veal Scaloppini with mushroom cognac sauce ($33.50) and other restaurant favorites. All entrees are served with fresh bread, salad, appetizer and dessert. A children’s menu is also available.

Earl Abel’s, 1201 Austin Hwy., (210) 822-3358 — The Thanksgiving menu will be served 11 a.m.-9 p.m., with breakfast starting at 6:30 a.m. Reservations are not accepted.  Appetizer specials include pumpkin soup, Earl’s Cream of Chicken soup and deviled eggs. Entree options: Roasted Turkey with handmade cornbread dressing, giblet gravy and cranberry relish; fried chicken with mashed potatoes; Thanksgiving pot roast with mashed potatoes and carrots; fried shrimp served with a baked potato; and a repeat of last year’s Venison Sausage from Broken Arrow Ranch in Ingram and served with German Potato Salad and Red Cabbage. Pies that day will include pumpkin pie, sweet potato pecan pie with Chantilly cream, chocolate ice box pie, pecan pie, strawberry shortcake, and chocolate and butter crème cakes. There will also be a children’s menu.

Frederick’s Restaurant, 7701 Broadway, (210) 828-9050; Frederick’s Bistro,  14439 N.W. Military Highway, (210) 888-1500 — Thanksgiving hours are from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and from 5-9 p.m. A few items from the lunch menu: Butternut Squash Pumpkin Soup ($6);  Lobster Bisque ($7);  Crab Cake with Spicy Remoulade ($9.5);  Roquefort Walnut Salad ($7);    Avocado, Jumbo Lump Crab Meat Salad ($25); Frederick’s Traditional Thanksgiving Turkey served with Home-style Stuffing, Fresh Cranberries and Seasonal Vegetables ($19); Jumbo Sea Scallops with Capers and Lemon and Butter, Caper Sauce ($20); and Black Angus New York Strip with Grilled Shrimp & Béarnaise ($29). Highlights from the holiday dinner menu include Frederick’s Spring Rolls ($9);  Crispy Calamari with Spicy Marinara Sauce ($9);  Oyster Casino ($9);  Escargot Bordelaise with Mushrooms and Garlic Butter ($10);  Frederick’s Traditional Thanksgiving Turkey served with Home-style Stuffing, Fresh Cranberries & Seasonal Vegetables ($25); Norwegian Salmon with Whole Grain Mustard White Wine Sauce ($27);  Black Angus Beef Tenderloin with Grilled Shrimp & Béarnaise ($34) and Parmesan Crusted Rainbow Trout with Avocado Relish ($28). Children’s menu available at both meals.

Green Vegetarian Downtown location only; 1017 N. Flores;  210-320-5865, $15 per person. Prix Fixe menu: Roast Turkey; Glazed Wham; Sausage and Apple Stuffing; Glazed Yams; Green Bean Casserole; Mashed Potatoes; Cranberry Salad; Tea. Please RSVP to marketing@GreenSanAntonio.com. www.GreenbSanAntonio.com

Hilton Palacio del Rio, 200 S. Alamo St., (210) 224-3357 — Seating times are at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. The lavish buffet includes fresh salads, bread display, an omelet station, entrées, traditional turkey and dressing, and a delicious dessert display. Price: Adults $34.95, Seniors/Military $31.95, Children 6-10 $16.95, Free for children 5 and under. Includes complimentary valet parking.

Hyatt Hill Country Resort,9800 Hyatt Resort Drive, (210) 767-7999 — The resort is offering two dining options for all tastes:

  • The Hill Country Ballroom will be offering a brunch from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Features include a rustic soup station with butternut squash soup, onion soup with Gruyère crouton, roasted tomato soup with smoked cheddar crostini, chicken tomatillo soup, and posole with cilantro and diced onion. The salad bar includes a selection of local greens, composed salads, and a specialty apple and pear tasting accompanied by warm mulled cider, Seafood: jumbo shrimp and cascabel chile cocktail sauce, hand-shucked oysters with jalapeño mignonette, smoked salmon with traditional garnish and mini bagels, smoked garlic mussels. Cheese kiosk and artisan breads will include locally made cheeses and crusty breads, warm, smoked-cheddar green chile biscuits with agave butter, Leaning Oaks Vineyard wine conserves and chipotle-pomegranate jam, and a marinated vegetable and olive bar. On the Butcher Block: citrus-coriander basted tom turkey with house-made gravy, maple-glazed honey baked ham with spicy mustard, and roasted beef steamship with horseradish. There will also be a Cranberry Bar, Pasta and specialties, including sweet potato with marshmallow gratin, corn bread stuffing, mashed garlic potatoes, baked “fresh catch” with lime butter cream sauce, roasted acorn squash with sherry and chestnuts, haricot vert and pancetta. Breakfast items, pastries and a children’s buffet also included. Cost: $49.95 for adults, $39.95 for seniors, and $23 for children 5-12 years.
  • Thanksgiving dinner in Antlers will be served 3-9 p.m. The special menu begins with soup and salad: Spanish Chorizo and Kale Soup with Leeks, Carrots, Celery, and Potato plus Chopped Salad with Romaine and Radicchio, Apple Bacon, Bleu Cheese, Pecans and Maple Vinaigrette. Main Dishes and Accompaniments include Sage Butter Roasted Turkey and Kettle Gravy, Lavender Honey-Glazed Ham, Wild Mushroom and Chorizo Stuffing, Tequila-Jalapeño and Traditional Cranberry Sauce, Smoked Cheddar Whipped Potatoes, Autumn Vegetable Hash, Parmesan Broccolini with Smoked Paprika, and fresh baked breads and butter. Dessert is your choice of Caramelized Pumpkin Tart with White Chocolate Whipped Cream, Roasted Apple-Cranberry Cobbler or Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie. Sommelier-recommended specialty wines available. Cost: $53 adults, $42 seniors, and $22 children 6-12.
  • The Springhouse Café will serve dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. The meal will include the traditional Thanksgiving favorites with a carving station for turkey and ham. Cost: $23 for adults, $11.50 for children 6-12. Reservations are not required.

JW Marriott, 23808 Resort Parkway, (210) 483-6622 — The Grand Oaks Ballroom will be the scene of a Thanksgiving buffet from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Options start with breakfast items, including Omelet Station, Fresh Fruit and Berries, Warm Breakfast Pastries, House Smoked Salmon, Mini Bagels, Farm Fresh Scrambled Eggs, Applewood Smoked Bacon and Elgin Hot Links Sausage. Salads, breads, sides and soups will be served along with seafood: Shrimp, Snow Crab Claws, Clams, and Oysters. At the carving station: Maple Brined Tom Turkey, Peach and Cranberry Relish, Prime Rib, Natural Pan Jus, Potato Sea Salt Rolls, and Bourbon Glazed Smoked Pork Loin. A dessert buffet and a children’s buffet are also included. Price: $54.95 for adults, $46.95 for seniors, and $25.95 for children 4 and older.

Las Canarias at La Mansion del Rio, 112 College St., (210) 518-1177 —The Thanksgiving buffet is served from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The buffet includes complimentary parking and choice of champagne, mimosas and Bloody Mary. The cost is $72 for adults, $36 for children 6-12 and free for children 5 and younger. Regular a la carte dinner service with featured themed specials will resume at 6 p.m.

Las Ramblas, Hotel Contessa, 306 W. Market St., (210) 298-3040 — Seatings are at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. The meal will include two carving stations at the main buffet, a waffle and omelet station, a chilled seafood display, a pastry chef’s table and a children’s buffet. Price: Adults, $41 (with bottomless mimosas and sangria, add $9); children 7-16, $16.

Expect to find all sorts of pies among the dessert offerings.

Luce Ristorante e Enoteca, 11255 Huebner Road, (210) 561-9700 — The restaurant will be open noon-4 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. A traditional turkey dinner will be served for $21.95 per person. The a la carte dinner menu will also be served.

Lüke, 125 E. Houston St.,  (210) 227-5853 — The Thanksgiving dinner will be served 11 a.m.-11 p.m. The five-course family-style Thanksgiving feast will be served to all, including service men and women from Fort Sam Houston, who will be honored guests that day. Starters include Crab Deviled Eggs, Southern Caviar and Cornmeal Pancakes, Hogs Head Cheese and Grilled Bread, and Boudin Balls, followed by Shrimp Maison, Braune Farms Beet Salad, Young Spinach Salad, Creole Seafood Gumbo, Turducken, Dirty Rice, Texas Yam Souffle, Mirliton and Shrimp Stuffing and more. Dessert is a choice of Mascarpone and Pumpkin Pie with White Chocolate Croustillant, Wild Turkey Pecan Pie with Vanilla Pot de Creme, Walnut and Apple Strudel with Creole Cream Cheese Ice Cream, or Brendan’s Bread Pudding, Candied Pecans, Vanilla Ice Cream. The cost is $45 for adults, $20 for children, plus tax and gratuity. A limited a la carte menu will be available as well.

Mike’s in the Village, 2355-3 Bulverde Road, Bulverde, (830) 438-2747— Thanksgiving dinner with will be served 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Start with a choice of Butternut Squash Soup, Chicken & Sausage Gumbo, Caesar Salad or Mixed Greens with Raspberry Vinegrette, followed by an entree of Cranberry Glazed Carrots; Green Beans & Mushroom Casserole; Creamy Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes; Roasted Turkey Breast with Chorizo, Andouille, Walnut & Cornbread Stuffing; Giblet Gravy and Whole Fruit Cranberry Relish. Dessert is a choice of Pecan Pie with White and Dark Chocolate Sauce, Pumpkin Pie with Fresh Whipped Cream or White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce. The cost is $24.95 for adults, $9.99 for children under 10.

The Omni San Antonio at the Colonnade, 9821 Colonnade Blvd., (210) 691-8888 — The Thanksgiving brunch buffet will be from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a turkey bar featuring several types of turkey, from Cajun and rotisserie to roasted and smoked, and a stuffing/dressing bar with fixings that include shrimp, chicken, chorizo, oysters, prosciutto, dried fruit and nuts. Rosemary steamship of beef and herb-crusted pork loin will also be offered in addition to soups, salads, desserts and breakfast items. The price is $39.95 per adult plus tax and a 21 percent service charge. Children ages 6-11 cost $16.95. You can also sponsor a wounded warrior to a Thanksgiving dinner when you make your reservation.

Candied yams are a seasonal favorite.

Oro at the Emily Morgan Hotel, 705 E. Houston St., (210) 224-0146 — Thanksgiving dinner will be served 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The seafood selection includes a variety of East Coast Oysters, Ahi Tuna, Gulf Redfish, Gulf Shrimp Ceviche, Gulf Cocktail Shrimp with Pickled Onion and Cilantro Cocktail and Littleneck Clams.  Chilled items include Bluebonnet Farms Heirloom Tomato and Roasted Mushrooms, local lettuces and salads, and assorted seasonal fruit and cheeses. Vegetables include Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Steamed Wild Rice with Cranberries and Huckleberries, Roasted Cherry and Butternut Squash Puree, and Sweet Potato and Braised Cabbage Hash. Hot favorites: Carved Rosemary and Cardamon Scented Turkey, with Classic Dressing, Alamo Beer and Citrus Braised Berkshire Pork Shank, Mesquite Smoked Garlic Studded Beef Sirloin and Natural Jus, and Pan Seared Mahi Mahi with Passion Fruit Butter and Charred Bell Peppers. Dessert options: Petit Fours, Classic Seasonal Berry Cheesecake, Caramelized Texas Pecan Pie with Chantilly Cream, and Decadent Pumpkin Pie with Golden Raisin Caramel. Cost: $39.95 plus tax and tip; $19.95 for kids 12 and under. Complimentary Valet Parking.

Ostra at the Mokara Hotel, 212 W. Crockett St., (210) 396-5817 — Ostra will have its regular à la carte menu available all day. Featured themed specials are available during dinner service, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Q on the Riverwalk at the Downtown Hyatt, 123 Losoya St., (210) 222-1234 — Thanksgiving dinner will be served 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Start with shrimp and crab claw shooters, prosciutto, capicola, Genoa salami, mortadella, marinated vegetables and Brazos Valley cheeses, season produce and salads, breads and soup as well as herb-roasted turkey breast or molasses-glazed bone-in ham, both carved to order. The Wall of Fire includes pistachio-encrusted salmon, brussels sprouts with bacon and caramelized onions, Brazos Valley White Cheddar mashed potatoes, Haricot Vert Casserole, and Bruleed Sweet Potatoes. Desserts include pumpkin cheesecake, bourbon pecan pie, Calvados apple cobbler, maple creme brulee, clementine fruit tarts, banana pudding cones and cinnamon roll French toast. Cost is $44 for adults or $22 for children. Price includes a glass of champagne and parking in the garage across the street.

Sustenio at Eilan Hotel Resort and Spa, 17103 La Cantera Parkway, (210) 598-2950 — On Thanksgiving Day, Sustenio is hosting a 3-course family style Thanksgiving Day meal from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.  Start with a choice of two of the following: Apple and Pear Salad, Pumpkin Soup, Truffle Chantilly, Traditional San Antonio Smoked Pork Tamales, Caesar Salad, Double Diamond Texas Quail, Smoked Chicken Deviled Eggs, Crab Salad and Goat Cheese Dip ($5 per person for an additional appetizer.) Choose two entrée selections: Wood Grilled Beef with Wild Mushroom Ragout; Heritage Turkey Breast; Texas Oak-Wood Smoked Ham; Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin; Leg of Lamb; Pan Seared Stripe Bass; Pressed Confit Duck; and Vegetarian Pasta ($7 per person for additional entrée). Choose three side dishes: Grandma’s Corn Bread, Sautéed Green Beans, Savory Pumpkin-Anise Bread Pudding, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Caramelized Root Vegetables, Smoky-Cheddar Stone Ground Grits, White Bean and Grilled Vegetable Salad, Braised Red Cabbage, Honey Glazed Carrots, Sweet Potato Soufflé and Yukon Gold Potato Puree ($4 per Person for an additional side.) Choose two desserts: Peppermint Cheesecake, Spiced Orange-Cranberry Cake, Pumpkin Panna Cotta, Pecan Whiskey Tart, Fruit Tart and Apple Cobbler ($5 per person for additional dessert.)  The cost is $42 for adults, $16 for children.

Many restaurants will serve Thanksgiving favorites family-style.

The Terrace Grill at Riven Rock Ranch, 390 Hermann Sons Road, Comfort, (830) 995-4045 — Chef Brantley is serving Thanksgiving dinner from noon to 5 p.m. The cost will be $49.95 for adults and $29.95 for children under 10, plus beverage, tax and tip.  A salad precedes the meal featuring the following sides: Fresh baked sweet corn muffins with whipped butter; Four Cheese Broccoli Casserole-with Romano, Fontina, Provolone and mozzarella cheese, topped with toasted bread crumbs; Orange Scented Haricots Verts with sun dried cranberries and toasted almonds; Sweet Corn, Water Chestnut and Texas Mushroom Cornbread Stuffing; and Agave Syrup Infused Sweet Potatoes and Spiced Apples with a Whiskey Glaze. You can choose two of the three meats from the carving station: Oven Roasted Turkey Breast, Center Cut Pork Loin and Amaretto, Pecan & Peach Glazed Smoked Ham. Dessert choices: Warm Coconut Milk Hot Chocolate-served with Chantilly whipped cream, grated chocolate and marshmallows; Caramel Jonagold Apple Cheesecake Bars with ginger snap cookie crust and streusel topping; and Traditional Pumpkin Pie-creamy custard based pumpkin pie sprinkled with candied pecans and spiced whipped cream.

Texas de Brazil, 313 E. Houston St., (210) 299-1600 — The Brazilian steakhouse opens at noon  Thanksgiving Day with a few traditional items, such as roast turkey, sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce in addition to the regular array of meats.

Vegeria Vegan Restaurant, 8407 Broadway, (210) 826-4223 — Vegeria’s Thanksgiving buffet will be 100 percent vegan and gluten free. It will also be completely local and organic.  The cost is $20 and includes drinks and dessert, but not tax or tip.  Seating choices are Slot A: 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.; Slot B: 12:30 – 2:30 p.m.; Slot C: 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. On the menu: Corn Cheddar Bread Pudding, Quinoa and Corn Bread Stuffing, Harvest Kale Salad with Candied Pecans and Walnuts, House Salad, Green Bean Casserole, Herbed Mashed Potatoes, Pumpkin and Butter Nut Squash Curry, Fresh Cranberry Sauce, Baked Herb Tofu with Creamy Portabella Gravy, fresh vegetables with homemade vegan cheese, Fresh Corn Bread and Jalepeño Cheddar Corn Bread, Pumpkin Spice Tamales, Spinach and Cream Cheese Tamales, Thanksgiving Stuffed Tamales, Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake, Raw Pecan Pie, Apple Spice Cupcakes, and Pumpkin Spice with Bavarian Cream Cupcakes. The raw menu includes raw savory pumpkin seed loaf with cranberry sauce, raw marinated kale and mushrooms, raw apple and sweet potato casserole, house salad, Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake and Raw Pecan Pie.

The Westin La Cantera, 16641 La Cantera Parkway, (210) 558-2439 — The Thanksgiving meal will be offered during seatings that run ever half hour from 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.  The brunch will include soup, salads, and carving stations with roast tom turkey, pineapple-glazed ham and prime rib au jus. Entrees include tomato-mozzarella stuffed chicken roulade, Provençal-style salt cod, and chile-rubbed pork loin. Breakfast specials, an array of side dishes and desserts, and a children’s menu are all offered.  Cost is $49 for adults, $25 for children.

If you would like to add another restaurant to the list, email walker@savorsa.com or griffin@savorsa.com.

 

 

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Dining Outdoors at the Terrace Grill Can Be a Treat, Even in This Heat


The dining area at the Terrace Grill.

COMFORT — Several weeks ago, while getting lost in the back roads around here, I passed a rather imposing gate bearing the name Riven Rock Ranch. My eyes drifted up the hillside to a beautiful resort partially hidden in trees, but I didn’t give it much thought until I spotted a brochure for the place at one of the nearby wineries. The information on the card promised dining at the ranch’s Terrace Grill on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

I was intrigued, to say the least. So, the first chance my schedule opened up, I was ready to go. But who would go with me? Not everyone was charmed by the prospect of dining in a “lovely outdoor venue,” as the website calls it, even with an overhang to protect you. “Check back in November,” one emailed me. But a pair of intrepid diners were up to the challenge, so off we went up I-10 and wound our way to Hermann Sons Road outside of town. We passed the gate and kept going, glad we were there before sunset because of the numerous turns and signs on the property that lead you to the Terrace Grill.

Mediterranean Salsa

At the door, we were greeted by an overhead fan blowing a welcome trace of mist. It was a sign that we were going to feel right at home. Our table was in  the middle of the L-shaped dining area, so we could see the rock fireplace on one side and a waterfall leading to a reception area on the other and a sliver of the sunset peaking through. In the middle of the comfortable area, across from our table, was an open kitchen where chef Joseph Brantley and his staff prepared some of our dinner in the wood-burning oven.

The menu online, with its healthy mix of local favorites, was in place, but so were eight specials, ranging from appetizers to entrées, which our friendly waitress patiently outlined for us. We started with a mixture of a special, sliders made with grass-fed beef, and a regular item, Mediterranean Salsa. We would have to toss a coin to decide which of these treats was better.

A Charolais slider

The miniature burgers, made with Charolais beef raised on the ranch, were juicy, deliciously medium rare and full of flavor. The wheat bun, the garlic aïoli and a dab of cheese just carried it over the top.

The salsa, meanwhile, featured exactly what the menu promised: “fresh lump crab, capers, tomatoes, kalamata olives, red onions, cilantro and green onions” all finely chopped in just a few drops of fresh lime juice and olive oil.” That is the recipe, and it’s so good that I’m making it for myself this weekend.

Our entrées were somewhat mixed. A wild boar schnitzel pounded thin, breaded and pan-fried was an excellent combination of German tradition and Texas ingredients, which carried over into a Rebecca Creek whiskey glaze. Sweet potato spaetzle added a nice touch on the side.

A naturally raised Angus ribeye was tender, had good flavor and was cooked medium rare to order. A generous side of steamed spinach was a pleasant complement. The meat is supposed to be served with Fredericksburg red potatoes, but I told the waitress I didn’t want a starch. Imagine my surprise to find corn (!?!) sautéed with cabbage and bacon as the substitute. I ate the cabbage and, of course, the bacon. (The same side dish also appeared with the schnitzel.)

The open kitchen.

I did taste the potatoes because they were served with my friend’s special, which included a deep-fried soft-shell crab and two jumbo fried shrimp. The shrimp were fine, especially with a dab of the accompanying rémoulade sauce, but the soft-shell crab wasn’t fried long enough to become crispy, and as a result, it was, well, too soft. The potatoes, coated in peanut oil, were also a little lackluster and tough — certainly no competition for attention with the spinach, which also appeared on the plate.

In a restaurant world where side dishes are often afterthoughts, it was welcome to find substantial, home-style portions  on each plate. Hopefully, they’ll be just a little better next time.

We brought our own wines to go with the meal, using the restaurant’s $10-per-bottle corkage fee. There is a nice wine list balancing choices from wineries far and as near as a mile or two from the restaurant.

The ribeye steak at the Terrace Grill.

The dessert list is as extensive as the specials list, and the sight of a foot-tall sundae with chocolate-Rebecca Creek sauce caught our eye as it went past. We opted instead for a key lime tartlet topped with torched meringue and strips of candied lime peel. It managed to balance sweet, tart and creamy in one beautiful treat.

We also tried the crème brûlée, which arrived topped with raspberries and Chambord. The sugar topping was dense, protecting the silky cream that just kept beckoning our spoons back for just one more taste.

We certainly enjoyed both of those desserts, but it was the whole evening at the Terrace Grill, from the setting to the food, that had us smiling.

The Terrace Grill at Riven Rock Ranch
390 Hermann Sons Road, Comfort
rivenrockranch.com/terrace-grill
(830) 995-4045 or 877-RANCH90
Lunch/dinner: Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Reservations requested.

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