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The Lighting of the River Parade Brings Sparkle to the Dining Scene


The Ford Holiday River Parade and Lighting Ceremony is Nov. 23.

One of the most enjoyable events of the entire year in San Antonio is the sparkle and luster of the Ford Holiday River Parade and Lighting Ceremony, which kicks off the holiday season on the river. This parade is always the Friday after Thanksgiving, which means it is on Nov. 23 this year. A number of restaurants along the river are offering seats and special meals to celebrate. The list includes the following:

Achiote River Cafe & Bar at the Grand Hyatt, 600 E. Market St., (210) 451-6171 — Seating is from 5 to 10 p.m. The meal includes salads, antipasto Latino, shellfish with orzo, jicama with citrus, chips with guacamole and three salsas, lobster and shellfish bisque, hickory-smoked strip loin, dill-crusted Scottish salmon, chicken Margharite, Texas short rib chili con carne, macaroni and aged white cheddar and miniature desserts. Cost is $65 per person for patio seating, $45 for restaurant seating, and half price for children ages 6-12. Price does not include tax and 18 percent service charge.

Hilton Palacio del Rio, 200 S. Alamo St., (210) 224-3367 — The menu for river parade includes romaine and chive wedge salad with cilantro rolled goat cheese and chipotle Caesar dressing; Airline chicken breast with ancho chile butter; Cilantro rice and chef’s selection of holiday vegetables; and Kahlua and Mexican chocolate cheesecake. Menu includes iced tea and coffee service with dessert. Additional beverages and cocktails can be purchased at an additional charge. Price: $59.95, dinner with outdoor patio seating; $42.95, dinner with indoor seating; $25, single parade chairs, available on the night of the parade.

The Jack Guenther Pavilion 6-9 p.m., 210 W. Market St., the Briscoe Western Art Museum and Rosemary’s Catering have joined together to offer Holiday River Parade patrons a gourmet dinner and premier seats for the River Walk lighting and the parade. You’ll enjoy a direct bird’s-eye view of the River Parade route, sitting directly across the river from Arneson theatre. Guests will experience indoor and outdoor spaces, a gourmet dinner, private restrooms, exclusive parade seating, a cash bar and plenty of room to mingle and enjoy the holiday season with friends and family. This event welcomes large families, tourists, parade enthusiasts, foodies and anyone looking for a fun experience in downtown San Antonio! Reservations are now being accepted. No tickets will be sold the day of the event, reservations must be placed in advance to secure a spot. Call Rosemary’s Catering at 210-474-7640 or email acampos@therkgroup.com.

Las Canarias at Omni La Mansion del Rio, 112 College St., (210) 518-1063 — La Mansión Pool Buffet will be served 4:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. with cash bar until 9 p.m. Pricing: Adult: $32.95 per person; children ages 6-12: $16.95 per person; children ages 5 years and younger can eat for free but the cost of a riverfront seat is $10 each. Riverfront seat is available for $25 per person in advance or $15 per person on the day of, based on availability. Las Canarias is offering the following dining options from 5:30 p.m., during dinner service: Restaurant Interior: Limited à la carte dining menu will be available with complimentary river-front seat. Restaurant Patio: Dinner available for $150 per person and includes a four-course dinner, one complimentary glass of champagne and one complimentary cheese and fruit plate, per table.

Ostra at the Mokara Hotel, 212 W. Crockett St., (210) 396-5817 — The following dining options are available from 5:30 p.m., during dinner service: Restaurant Interior: The regular à la carte menu will be available, no food and beverage minimum required. Restaurant Patio: Patio dining requires a food and beverage minimum of $50 per person.

The holiday season kicks in with the Lighting of the River.

Paesanos Riverwalk, 111 W. Crockett St., (210) 227-2782 — Start with an optional appetizer sampler for two: Parmesan Crusted Artichoke Hearts, Giant Calamari With Duet of Sauces And Crab Cake Croquettes, $14.95 extra. Follow that with a multi-course meal that begins with field green salad or Italian Wedding Soup. Entrée choices: Shrimp Paesano, Nicoise Salad With Herb Crusted Salmon, Grilled Center Cut Filet Mignon, Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breast, or Eggplant Parmigiana. Dessert: Crepes With Fresh Strawberries. Includes iced tea, assorted soft drinks and coffee. Seating and Pricing Options: Riverfront dining, $80; other seating options, $58.95. Tax and 20 percent service charge to be added. Children’s menu available.

Rio Rio Cantina, 421 E. Commerce St., (210) 226-8462 — Among the treats during the river parade are Fresh Tostadas and Dips, Multi-Colored Tortilla Chips, Salsa and Chile Con Queso, Fiesta Layered Dip, Rio-Rio Veggie Wraps, Chicken Flautas, Mini Barbecue Chicken Kabobs, Salad Station, Build Your Own Fajita Super Nacho Station, Beef & Chicken Fajitas Al Carbon, Enchilada Station, Mexican Rice and Refried Beans, and desserts. Price: Adult, $49.95; Child 9 and younger, $24.98. A 20 percent service charge and tax will be added.

Zuni Grill, 223 Losoya St., (210) 227-0864 — A multi-course meal will be served including Spinach Salad followed by a choice of Shrimp Paesano, Grilled 10-ounce Chipotle Rubbed Ribeye, Southwest Chicken or Portobello Fajitas. Dessert is Chocolate Confusion Cake. Dinner includes iced tea, assorted soft drinks and coffee. Seating and pricing options: Inside dining with parade chair on the river, $49.95; outside river patio table for dining and viewing of parade, $49.95; dining inside on second level loft with a parade chair on loft balcony for viewing, $49.95. Sales tax and 20 percent service charge will be added. Kid’s menu available.

Photos courtesy www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com

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

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Little Rhein Celebrates 45 Years with a $45 Special


Little Rhein sits on a beautiful corner of the River Walk.

Little Rhein Steak House, 231 S. Alamo St., is celebrating its 45th anniversary in June by offering a month-long prix fixe meal for $45.

Start with your choice of any salad from the dinner menu and  follow that with your choice of filet mignon, filet mignon and shrimp, or lobster tail. You can also choose any side dish from the dinner menu.  Close out your evening with your choice of any dessert from the menu.

And enjoy all of it from a beautiful corner of the River Walk where you can watch boats and walkers alike go by or you can sit inside the restaurant, which was built in 1847 and is known as the Bombach House in honor of the carpenter who built it.

For information, call (210) 225-2111.

 

 

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Bella Offers a Pleasant Escape by the River


Bella sits next to the river.

Bella … on the River is housed in what used to be Delores Del Rio, and a few similarities have carried over from one to the other. The place still feels like a boite from another time with its dimly lit interior, stone walls and stairs, and that ever-so-slight ramshackle, casual air that keeps things from getting too serious.

Yet chef Sean Fletcher’s special menu for Restaurant Week was all seriousness, indeed. Seriously thought out and seriously delicious. It makes me want to return, especially to sample the cold asparagus soup with shrimp and fresh basil plus the Greek-style branzino.

Those were a couple of dishes that caught my eye before I ordered the Restaurant Week special, which came with several options for each course.

Before my options arrived, my waitress, who also served as bartender, brought out a roll with a roasted bulb of garlic set atop extra-virgin olive oil with a touch of dried rosemary. The roll was fair and the oil lacked that grassy EVOO bite that I like, but that garlic was so good I scooped out every last clove with my knife and could have eaten another.

Bella features plenty of good wines and some nice stemware to drink them from.

By then my orange salad arrived. Slender slices of juicy orange with no pith on the outside were topped with layers of Kalamata olives, red onion and crushed blanched almonds. The sweetness of the orange, the zip of the onion and the salty tang of the olives blended beautifully while the buttery almonds gave the dish a pleasant crunch. (I honestly don’t remember the alternative for the first course. The salad was so good it eclipsed all else.)

The main course was a beautifully fresh piece of escolar, atop a chimichurri sauce with a good punch of garlic and parsley. Capers and thin strands of delicately battered and fried onion crowned the dish. The alternative here was a petite filet mignon, which is probably quite wonderful, and yet the fish, even on a Monday, proved to be the right choice for me that evening.

Pan-seared escolar atop a chimichurri sauce with fried onions and capers.

Dessert was a choice of chocolate fondant or Virginia’s pistachio cake. I opted for the latter and was, again, rewarded with a truly delectable dish. The pound cake-type base, all butter and filled with nuts, was covered with pistachio cream and a mixture of nuts with chocolate shavings. Rich, without being heavy, the cake was a real treat. Thanks, Virginia, whoever you are.

I sat down fairly early in the evening, and yet there was a good vibe from the half-dozen or so other occupied tables. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the food as well as the Sarah Vaughn and other jazz greats on the sound system. That is, until the live jazz began. On Monday it was a pianist who sang the likes of “Mona Lisa” and “The Lady Is a Tramp” in an appealing, low-key manner.

If you remember growing deafer in the evenings when the all-too-loud music filled Delores Del Rio, you’ll be pleased to note that someone has turned down the volume. Now you can have a conversation without having to scream.

Virginia's pistachio cake.

And you can do that over a nice glass of wine. I had an icy Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand; it was not the wine I had ordered (I had asked for a French Sauvignon Blanc), but I was certainly pleased with it on so hot a day. It was also less expensive than the wine I had selected, so I even saved a few bucks on something I enjoyed.

By the way, you’ve got to love a restaurant that advises you of the following before you eat:

“Menu Disclaimers: Olives may have pits, Fish have bones, Meats prepared to your desired doneness, Clams and Mussels are in shells, be careful around Flaming Items, Hot Plates, Coffee and Hot Tea are Hot.”

That’s the spirit.

For more on Restaurant Week, which runs through Saturday, click on the Culinaria ad at the top of this page.

Bella … on the River
106 River Walk
210-404-BELLA (2355)
Dinner Monday-Saturday

 

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Trailer ‘haute’ cuisine is next Weissman venture


Haute cuisine in a trailer park?

Well, sort of.

Restaurateur Andrew Weissman says paperwork has been signed and development is proceeding for a property on the San Antonio River Walk, kitty corner from the San Antonio Museum of Art.

Look for The Luxury: Haute Trailer Cuisine, in November, he says.

This is the name for what he envisions as a twist on the trendy mobile dining idea that should be fun for kids and affordable for adults.

Three retrofitted Airstream trailers will serve the functions of kitchens in the food service area.

A play park for kids is planned, as well as an outdoor, shady, area for adults to relax, eat and have a drink. The lot, about an acre, is at the corner of Jones Avenue and Ave. B.

The name, he says, relates to the reputation for quality that the Airstream trailers have always had, but is also pokes a little fun at his reputation for concentrating on fine dining (and those who complain about it).

The classic, shiny trailers will offer drinks, entrees and desserts at $5 each. Each function will be separately prepared in one of the trailers, says Weissman.

For the kids, there will be a playscape, or an enclosed area where they can have fun while their parents relax nearby. The play area is a concept that has worked well at one of Weissman’s other restaurants, Big’z, on Loop 1604.

Its design will be subtle, says Weissman. “If you walk up to it, you might not even recognize it as a play area for kids.”

Plans for the property, from landscaping to outfitting the mobiles and having them plumbed, to designing the play area and restrooms, are already well underway, says Weissman. The final papers for the property were signed Tuesday, he said.

“A big part of this location will be its environmental aspects. It will feel like a garden, with native plants, brick pavers, trees. We want to make it have as minimal an environmental impact as possible. We’ll also be concentrating on eco-friendly practices, such as using bamboo packaging and so forth,” Weissman said.

Weissman and his wife, Maureen, own several other venues in San Antonio. These include The Sandbar, a fresh seafood restaurant at the Pearl Brewery. Il Sogno, an Italian restaurant, is also at the Pearl, while  Big’z Burger Joint is out on Loop 1604.

As a chef and restaurateur, Weissman gained national recognition, including four James Beard Award nominations for his first restaurant, Le Reve. The contemporary French restaurant on Pecan Street closed last year.

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Two Restaurant Openings Set


Two new restaurants will open in the coming weeks, offering diners new tastes from two of the city’s finest chefs.

• Damian Watel of Bistro Vatel, Ciao Lavanderia and others will be opening Cafe des Artistes at the San Antonio Museum of Art, 200 W. Jones Ave., on Feb. 15.

The restaurant will be open for lunch in the beginning, Watel says, with hours until 9 p.m. on Tuesdays when the museum is also open late.

The menu will include pressed sandwiches, salads and more. The space, which opens up onto the new extension of the River Walk, can seat up to 100 and is available for catered events, including weddings, brunches and more.

• Chef Bruce Auden says his new restaurant, Auden’s Kitchen in the Stone Oak area, will open Monday, Feb. 1 at 5 p.m. for dinner. It will be closed Feb. 7, then reopen Feb. 8 at 11 a.m., for lunch and dinner.

The restaurant, located in the Plaza at Concord Park, 700 Sonterra Blvd. at Sigma Drive, will be contemporary in concept, with an open kitchen, and moderate in price, according to Perney Shea, sales and catering manager for Biga on the Banks, Auden’s restaurant on the River Walk. “It has a great look, (local artist) Jill Giles did our design.”

Lunches, featuring entrees such as fish and chips, burgers, pizza, chicken pot pie and so forth, will be in the $12-$15 range, and dinners at around $25.

“It will be comfortable and casual, just as if you were sitting in the kitchen at a friend’s,” Shea said.

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