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Tag Archive | "Robbie Nowlin"

It’s Time to Go Cajun for a Good Cause, Ma Cher


ARTS San Antonio is having its annual spring gala at 6:30 p.m. March 2. The Cajun-themed dinner, “Deep in the Arts of Texas,” will feature a multi-course dinner at Boudro’s Texas Bistro, 209 N. Presa St., along with special guest, two-time Grammy-award winning BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet.

The event is a major fundraising benefit for ARTS San Antonio’s education initiative ARtsTEach.

Chef Robbie Nowlin is preparing feast that will include stations offering Cajun Fried Turkey with a Rosemary Biscuit, Jambalaya with Roasted Chicken and Adouille Sausage, Crawfish Effouffee, Fried Catfish, Blackened Drum Pontchartrain, Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits, Fried Oyster Po-Boys, Roasted Quail and Baked Oysters Rockefeller, among other dishes. 

BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet is regarded as “the best Cajun band in world”, according to Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion. It takes the rich Cajun traditions of Louisiana and artfully blends elements of zydeco, New Orleans jazz, Tex-Mex, country, blues into satisfying music. BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet was featured on “Austin City Limits,” HBO’s “Treme” and on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” In 2005, BeauSoleil founder Doucet was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Each year, the ARTS San Antonio Board of Directors honors a person or group with its Lifetime Service to Community Cultural Enrichment Award. This year, it is going to Capital Group. The award recognizes and honors significant leadership, support and impact in improving the quality of cultural life and the performing arts in the community.

“ARTS San Antonio is thrilled to recognize Capital Group for its support. Capital Group has been a consistent and generous supporter of the arts and arts education in our community for many years,” said John Toohey, president and executive director of ARTS San Antonio. “A number of Capital Group associates have served in active volunteer leadership roles in nonprofit community service and arts organizations.”

“We are truly honored to be the 2017 award recipient,” said Erika Ivanyi, senior vice president, Capital Group and general manager of the San Antonio Service Center. “We value art, art education and everything it represents in the community. Art must live on in all forms. Serving others in this way means there’s a future in art,” said Ivanyi.

Tickets and sponsorships for the gala can be purchased online at www.artssa.org or by calling (210) 226-2891. Seating is limited.

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Couldn’t Make It to the Hot Wells Harvest Feast? There’s More to Come


The recent Hot Wells Harvest Feast was such a success that future meals are being planned for the grounds on the ruins of the former hotel and spa.

Robbie Nowlin stands in the Hot Wells ruin.

Robbie Nowlin stands in the Hot Wells ruin.

The “first #hotwellssummernights will be the first week of July,” says chef Robbie Nowlin, who’ll be overseeing the dinner series. The exact date for the first hasn’t been set, but “It will be a pizza party with lots of beer and live music. $35 dollars a person. Wood-fired pizzas cooked outside. I will be doing the cooking with a little help from Halston Connella, Justin Parr and Josh Kirk. The toppings for the pizza will be inspired from the Hot Wells garden, of course.”

The event will be limited to the first 150 patrons.

All those recent rains have been good for the garden, which “is exploding like 10 times as much as during Harvest Feast,” he says.

The series will be held on a regular basis, less during the summer than during the fall, given the heat. A portion of the proceeds will go to both the Hot Wells Conservancy and Sala Diaz, an art exhibition space.

It’s not the only item Nowlin’s working on these days. The chef, who recently left the Hotel Valencia “to focus on my non-profit projects,” he says, is also planning a dinner series at the Flight Gallery in Blue Star Complex. He’ll be teaming with Parr, an artist, who’ll provide a visual aspect for the meal while Nowlin provides the food for that fundraiser.

And he’s continuing with his monthly #WickedNightsAtWickes dinner, which raises funds for Haven for Hope in the form of H-E-B gift cards. This month’s dinner, featuring Jason Dady, is happening Sunday.

Ready for pizza at Hot Wells?

Ready for pizza at Hot Wells?

Tickets were long gone for the event, which was announced on Robbie Nowlin’s Facebook page and on Instagram as chef_driven. You need to follow him on either page to find actual dates and times for all of the events and to get advance tickets.

All of these non-profit events will likely keep him busy for a while — until he’s ready to announce his next venture, that is.

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Hot Wells Springs to Life with a Bounteous Harvest Feast


Chris Jara offers a winning cake made with fruit from the Hot Wells property.

Chris Jara offers a winning cake made with fruit from the Hot Wells property.

Brandon McKelvey of Say.She.Ate made a fresh salad packed with fresh herbs and graced with slices of beets. Josh Cross of El Toro Taco roasted a whole goat for cabrito tacos topped with a zippy salsa. Stefan Bowers of Feast dished up mulberry soup with chicharrones and hot peppers.

Guests could walk into a part of the former spa.

Guests could walk into a part of the former spa.

Those were three of the many dishes served up Wednesday at the Hot Wells Harvest Feast in which an array of chefs from across the city showcased the finest fruits, vegetables and herbs from the gardens on the grounds of the former hotel and spa.

Planners had expected about 500 to show up for Jason Dady’s Connecticut oysters with a blackberry vinegar, Tim the Girl Mcdarmid’s felafel granola or John Fahle’s smoked salmon with dill. But organizer Robbie Nowlin, executive chef of the Hotel Valencia, said the final total was “792.”

A postcard of the former hotel and spa.

A postcard of the former hotel and spa.

That’s a good amount of money for the Hot Wells Conservancy, which is trying to keep the historic property a vital part of the community. The original resort has suffered from two fires and the sulfur springs have been blocked,  but the ruins provided a perfect setting for the evening.

The array of foods served showed off the riches grown on the property, including several dozen varieties of heirloom tomatoes, tongue-tingling hot peppers, fennel, hoja santa, Swiss chard, peaches and more. Halston Conella of Cirtus brought his own wood-burning oven and made pizzas that included many of the ingredients as toppings. PJ Edwards of Gardner in Austin used several varieties of tomatoes to top a cheese-rich tart. Brooke Smith of Esquire Tavern served up a lamb paté, and Jeret Peña of the Brooklynite and the Last Word used herbs to create his own “Chartreuse” for use in one of the cocktails he and his brother, Jorel, were mixing up.

As more than one guest satisfied said, it was all good. The mosquitoes seemed to be enjoying themselves, too.

Visitors stroll the grounds of Hot Wells before sunset.

Visitors stroll the grounds of Hot Wells before sunset.

In the end, the crowd had to narrow down their choices to name the two top tastes of the evening. Chris Jara of the St. Anthony Hotel was the top vote getter for a gorgeous layered cake that incorporated fruit from the gardens. In second place was Jeff Wayne White of Boiler House Texas Grill, who was last year’s big winner; he made a Vietnamese banh mi featuring corned brisket and a spicy slaw that used some serranos from the garden.

The sun eventually disappeared behind what’s left of the pool house and the stars began to dance above as the chefs and the last few visitors let the party stretch into the night.  Leaving the party full and happy prompted one question: What’s happening next at Hot Wells?

Tim the Girl's team

Tim the Girl’s team

Jeff Wayne White tastes his own Vietnamese banh mi.

Jeff Wayne White tastes his own Vietnamese banh mi.

Josh Cross serves up cabrito tacos.

Josh Cross serves up cabrito tacos.

Ernie Estrada with Rockin' Rabbit and Piggy Rillette.

Ernie Estrada with Rockin’ Rabbit and Piggy Rillette.

Visitors check out the gardens.

Visitors check out the gardens.

 

 

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Growing Something Special at the Hot Wells Ruins


Planning this year's Hot Wells Harvest Feast.

Planning this year’s Hot Wells Harvest Feast.

Resurrecting the Hot Wells Hotel and Spa may seem a little crazy to some, after two fires in 1997 and 2011 destroyed much of the fabled resort. But that is somehow in keeping with the history of the place.

The "Gents" pool at the Hot Wells Hotel and Spa.

The “Gents” pool at the Hot Wells Hotel and Spa.

Its story begins in 1892, when the Southwestern Lunatic Asylum drilled a well in order to have enough water to operate, according to a history on the Edwards Aquifer website.

And it continues today as a project of the Hot Wells Conservancy, which was formed in 2013 “to preserve the vestiges of the historic hotel and provide educational, cultural, and environmental programming,” the site says.

But enough of history. What’s happening on the grounds of the spa these days?

Heirloom tomatoes known as blueberries.

Heirloom tomatoes known as blueberries.

You can take a yoga class regularly in the old ruins, if you’d like. Or you can join with hundreds of other food lovers on June 3 for Hot Wells Harvest Feast, a event in which you can tour the grounds while eating food grown on the property and sipping your choice of cocktails, wine and beer.

This is a fundraiser to benefit the conservancy that was created by Robbie Nowlin, executive chef of the Hotel Valencia, and artist Justin Parr, who lives on the grounds.

The concept is simple: The participating chefs, including the mixologists, have to include ingredients grown on the property in their dishes. That could mean one or more of several dozen heirloom tomatoes, peaches from the heavily laden trees, any of the many hot pepper varieties, hoja santa leaves, lovage, fennel pollen, garlic blossoms — you name it. Some of the booths will be set up inside the ruins, while the remainder will line the exterior, all under strands of Italian lights.

A few of the gardens at Hot Wells.

A few of the gardens at Hot Wells.

This year, Nowlin has more than 30 chefs lined up, and he had to turn away many more. He knows it has caused some hurt feelings, but he hopes they understand that there’s just not room to accommodate everyone at this point.

“I’m a chef,” he says, “not an event planner. But I’m an event planner.”

In the end, it’s the cause that’s important, and if you’d like to see this once-grandiose site restored or if you just want to have some fine food in a wholly unique setting, you can visit the Hot Wells Conservancy website for details. For a list of the participating chefs, click here.

A few tips if you’re making the trip to Hot Wells, 5503 S. Presa St., Wednesday or any time in the foreseeable future:

–Dress casually and for warm weather.

–Leave your high heels at home.

–Wear plenty of bug spray.

–Have a designated driver.

–Enjoy yourself.

Robbie Nowlin stands in the Hot Wells ruin.

Robbie Nowlin stands in the Hot Wells ruin.

The ruins of the Hot Wells Hotel and Spa.

The ruins of the Hot Wells Hotel and Spa.

Fennel grows by the ruins.

Fennel grows by the ruins.

Peppers grow amid the flowers.

Peppers grow amid the flowers.

 

 

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Getting Wicked for a Good Cause


Have you ever wondered what chefs do in their off time?

PJ Edwards and Robbie Nowlin (right) address the Wicked Nights at Wickes crowd.

PJ Edwards and Robbie Nowlin (right) address the Wicked Nights at Wickes crowd.

Robbie Nowlin of Citrus in the Hotel Valencia likes to get together with other chefs and cook up some fun.

That’s why he has started up a monthly dinner party at his Southtown home. He’s called it Wicked Night at Wickes, or #WickedNightsAtWickes, as it has come to be more commonly known, thanks to its social media hashtag. Its main purpose is to raise awareness of Haven for Hope, the center that helps the city’s homeless and less fortunate. In lieu of a set dinner price, guests are asked to donate H-E-B gift cards, which Nowlin and his friend, artist Justin Parr, use to buy ingredients so they can make breakfast for folks who use the center.

“I’m super stoked about the dinner series,” he says. “For me, doing a supper club where we didn’t charge was the real point. We encourage people to bring H-E-B gift cards to help Justin Parr and me purchase ingredients to make tacos for Haven for Hope or to just give haven the cards to do what they will with them.”

Spring peas with yogurt, garlic and flowers

Spring peas with yogurt, garlic and flowers

Each month, Nowlin asks a different chef to set the menu for the evening. Though the series of dinners dates back only to December, the lineup so far has included old friends from some phase of his career in the restaurant business, and each has obliged by devising a multi-course menu that showcased the best of what’s in season. Chefs featured so far have included Jeff Wiley, who works with Nowlin at Citrus, and Rebecca Masson of Houston’s Fluff Bake Bar.

In March, the invited guest star was PJ Edwards, sous chef of Gardner in Austin. Nowlin and Edwards both worked for Jason Dady, but their history together goes back much further to the start of their careers. They were both on the line at one of San Antonio’s Olive Garden, where, because of the lack of creativity involved in the job, they focused on honing their chopping skills and other fundamentals, often racing each other to see, for example, who could cut their way through carrots the fastest.

Instead of feasting on the elaborate meal with the other 30 or so guests, I asked Nowlin if I could help out wherever necessary behind the scenes to see what preparation was involved in staging each of the dinners.

Before the first guest arrived, I found myself alongside several other volunteers foraging the yard for an edible garnish possibly to use later in the evening. I also found myself having to taste test a cocktail from Jeret and Jorel Peña of the Brooklynite and the Last Word that would be served with the appetizers. (Hey, it had gin in it, so somebody had to volunteer.)

Shucking the oysters

Shucking the oysters

The evening began with oysters on the half shell with a strawberry mignonette as well as pea meringue with fermented mushroom.

Once the guests took their seats at the horseshoe-shaped dining table in Nowlin’s backyard, the pace picked up. I found myself helping assemble plates or serving them to the guests as soon as possible, so that they could get their fill of the likes of spring peas with yogurt and garlic garnished with a colorful array of edible flowers or grilled turnip with serrano ham and preserved persimmon.

Live music filled the background, as did a scattered squawk from Nowlin’s hens and the satisfied sounds of people enjoying their meals and each other’s company. Bottles of wine went from full to empty as the evening wore on, and I soon joined in the train of servers, who whisked away plates after the diners had finished with pork loin crowned with artichoke and guanciale or crawfish served with green garbanzo, leeks and nasturtium.

The crew that it took to keep the action going was large. Other chefs, cooks, servers and friends willingly gave up a free night to do what they do for the rest of the week, all for a good cause and all to keep the evening running as smoothly as possible. Nowlin has also managed to get a number of sponsors for Wicked Nights at Wickes, including the RK Group, which provides the setup for the evening, including the tables, chairs, china, silverware and glassware.

Robbie Nowlin's hens

Robbie Nowlin’s hens

Nowlin came up with the idea for the dinner series after he landed his job at Citrus. He felt the need to do something for the community, but he also wanted to have some fun on a night off.

“It’s really about getting the community excited about coming together to eat a meal from an awesome chef and be able to meet new interesting people,” he says. And it’s about getting the chefs to try to outdo each other from one month to the next, of course.

So, where did the name come from?

It’s a tribute, Nowlin says, to the Wickes Street home’s previous tenant, the late Craig Pennel, who hosted outrageous parties that he called Wicked Nights. The chef felt he wanted to continue the tradition in his own way.

Getting a seat at the table for one of the dinners isn’t easy. You can’t just call someone and make a reservation for the next Wicked Night at Wickes. First, you have to like the event’s Facebook page and wait for an announcement of the next dinner. Then post a comment that you’d like to join, and your name will be entered into a lottery for the seats. The dinners are usually the last Sunday of the month, though the April/May dinner has been set for May 3 with Stefan Bowers of Feast as the guest chef. There’s also talk of a future dinner featuring one of Nowlin’s associates from his days at the French Laundry, but you’ll have to keep an eye open for future announcements.

Next time, I’m hoping to snag a seat at the table. I’ve got my H-E-B cards ready.

It's time for Wicked Nights at Wickes.

It’s time for Wicked Nights at Wickes.

 

 

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It’s Going to Be a Hot Time at Hot Wells on June 3


Get ready for one of the most talked-about food events of the entire San Antonio year.

hot wellsThe Harvest Feast at the Hot Wells ruins returns June 3.

The annual event began with friends chef Robbie Nowlin and artist Justin Parr, who had the idea of planting the gardens on the grounds of the former hotel and spa.

They enjoyed the food that they grew so much that they began to include others. Out of that grew a dinner on the grounds using the harvest.

Chefs around town loved being a part of the event, and more than a few talked about it for months after it happened.

That helps explain the lengthy list of chefs and booths for this year’s event:

·         Chef Robbie Nowlin-Citrus

·         Bar Chef Jorel Pena-The Last Word

·         Bar Chef Jaret Pena-The Brooklynite

·         Chef Jason Dady-Jason Dady Restaurant Group

·         Chef Stefan Bowers-Feast

·         Chef Josh Cross-Toro Taco Bar

·         Chef Brooke Smith-Esquire Tavern

·         Chef Chris Jara-St Anthony Hotel

·         Chef John Fahle-Outlaw BBQ

·         Chef Brandon Mckelvey-Say.She.Ate

·         Chef Harris Esparza-Compass Group

·         Chef Rebecca Masson-Fluff Bake Bar-Houston

·         Chef Zach Garza-Primero Cantina

·         Charles Gonzales-Rosella Coffee

·         Chef Jeff White-The Boiler House

·         Chef Beto Gutierrez-Houston

·         Chef Jeff Wiley

·         Chef Quealy Watson-Hot Joy

·         Chef Andrew Wiseheart-Gardner-Austin

·         Chef PJ Edwards-Gardner-Austin

·         Chef Geronimo Lopez-CIA/NAO

·         Chef Mark Weaver

·         Chef Luis Colon-FOLC

·         Chef Halston Conella-Citrus

 Hot Wells is at 5503 S. Presa St. Tickets are $75 a person or $125 a couple. Call Cindy Taylor at 210-912-5868 for tickets.

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Area Chefs Gather for a Hot Time at Hot Wells


Tasting the finest and freshest food straight from the farm or garden is always a treat to any food lover.

hot wellsThat’s what chef Robbie Nowlin is planning to showcase at his Hot Wells Harvest Feast, which is set for June 18.

The foods grown by caretaker Justin Parr in the Hot Wells garden will be presented in assorted tastes presented by a series of area chefs, including Stefan Bowers, Ernie Estrada, Zach Garzia, Zach Lutton, Christopher Jara,  Rebecca Masson, Brandon McKelvey, Jesse Perez, Mark Weaver and Jeff White as well as Javier Gutierrez, Joseph P. Hernandez and Nao at the Culinary Institute.

Nowlin has hosted this event before, to acclaim even from the chefs. “This event is going to be on another level,” McKelvey posted on Facebook “Last year’s was the most beautiful event I’ve ever worked.”

The old Hot Wells Hotel and Bathhouse is 5503 S. Presa St. Tickets start at $75 a person  or $125 per couple. Sponsorships are still available. For tickets or information, email cindy@cindytaylorgroup.com or call (210) 912-5868.

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Dishing The Dish: Three Perspectives on Porky Heaven


Today, we introduce a new feature on SavorSA that will focus on some of great work that’s being done in restaurants around town. It’s called The Dish and it will shine a light on a culinary creation that’s worth singling out for praise. It could be something seasonal, a new sensation or an old favorite. The sole point is to make you aware of the savory treats in SA.

If you have any favorites you’d like to share, either post them below or email walker@savorsa.com or griffin@savorsa.com.

This initial effort features three pork-related dishes to wet your appetite. Each illustrates porcine perfection in a unique way.

Pig Face Wood-Fired Pie at Bin 555

Pig Face Wood-Fired Pie
Bin 555 at the Alley
555 W. Bitters Road
(210) 496-0555

Who can resist a pizza baked in a wood-fired oven that’s hot enough to scorch the bottom of the dough, giving it a slightly burnt taste that’s practically irresistible?

That’s just the beginning, though, of the joys of this pizza from chef Robbie Nowlin, who creates his own house-made torchon using, you guessed it, the whole pig’s face.  The meat is cured in salt, pink salt, white pepper and sugar for one day. Then parts are braised before being added back to the torchon before it’s ready to use.

Then come toppings of slivers of radish, strips of pecorino and, in an inspired touch, pickled mustard seeds. The chef finishes it off with leaves arugula just before serving that add a fresh green vibrancy as well as a peppery bite.

I had a couple of leftover slices for breakfast the following morning. The radish flavor intensified, giving the pizza a welcome wake-up bite.

Using the pig’s head is, like using a cow’s head in barbacoa, a wonderful way to use as much meat on an animals as possible without letting it go to waste. Place another of these beautiful pizzas in front of me, and you’ll see another example of food not going to waste.

The 50/50 Burger at Big Bob’s.

The 50/50 Burger
Big Bob’s Burgers
447 W. Hildebrand Ave.
(210) 734-2627

Bacon cheeseburgers have long been justifiably popular, but why not take that experience to a whole new level by adding the bacon to the burger and not just on top of it?

That’s the appeal of this burger, which is made up of equal parts ground chuck and ground bacon. So, all that pork goodness fills every bite, while the chuck gives it a sturdy structure with plenty of meat and fat for the required beefiness and juiciness. Add a slab of sharp cheddar and chef Robert Riddle’s grilling, which lends it a smoky flavor, and you have a big fat phenomenon.

Of course, you could crown that combination with crisp bacon strips, but I can’t decide if that’s a bit too much or just a deliciously new means of satisfying my inner oinker.

A word of caution to those Texans who want their beef dead done: The whole patty is pinker than you may be used to. The grilling on the outside adds a little blackness, but the center is pinker than you may want. That’s from the addition of bacon, not the cooking technique.

For those of us keeping low-carb, Big Bob’s also offers the burger on a salad with artichoke hearts, garbanzos, olives, pepperoncini and more laid over a mound of spring greens. Good and healthful, just the way I like it.

The Peacemaker Po’Boy
Where Y’at
Alamo Street Eat-Bar
609 S. Alamo St.
(210) 420-0069

The SA food truck scene is burgeoning with exciting new flavors to please most any palate. Place this po’boy from Pieter Sypesteyn at the top of your must-try list.

The chef starts with an unbeatable combination of corn meal-breaded oysters and crunchy pork belly, braised in root beer before being deep-fried, both of which add a mouthwatering saltiness that enlivens the layers of mustardy coleslaw, pickles and fresh jalapeño slivers, all slathered with the right amount of creamy rémoulade.

Yet, as special as the combination of pork and seafood is, not to mention the pristine freshness of the other ingredients, were, the real stars of the sandwich were thick slices of perfectly ripe, old-fashioned tomato, which brought everything together in one incomparable whole. Not surprisingly, the tomatoes were from Cora Lamar’s Oak Hills Farm, by way of the Pearl Farmers Market. There’s a reason people rave about local food, and a tomato that tastes like a tomato is it. .

NOLA snobs may turn up their noses at a po’boy not made back at home because of how special the bread there is, but this is that bread. It’s Gambino’s French Bread, imported from the Quarter. For those don’t know the type of bread a po’boy should be served on, think of a baguette, yet one with a crackly exterior that is not too dense and a center that is not too fluffy. In short, it’s sturdy enough to hold its choice filling without falling apart into a soggy mess. Plus, Sypesteyn toasts the bread first and the rémoulade just melts into it.

I made the mistake of getting the half version of this beauty the first time I tried it. I’ve make peace with myself about that and will never let it happen again.

 

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NAO at the CIA to Have Soft Opening May 23


Robert Fleming is opening a second Magnolia Pancake Haus this week.

NAO, the Latin restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America, will have its soft opening on May 23.

It will be in the Pearl Brewery, 200 E. Grayson St., and will feature dishes from throughout South America, Latin America and the islands.

NAO will be student-staffed and the menu will feature traditional dishes creatively reinterpreted for San Antonio diners.

Jesse Perez

In other Pearl Brewery news, chef Jesse Perez is opening his contemporary American restaurant, Arcade, this fall. It will be in the lab building near the stables on the property.

The streamlined industrial look of the space will be playful, Perez says.

We’re hoping the food will be as good as what we sampled from Perez during this year’s Culinaria.

In other restaurant news, Robert Fleming will be opening his second Magnolia Pancake Haus on Friday at 10333 Huebner Road.

Old favorites, such as the Apfelpfannekuchen and the pancakes as well as the house-made sausage and eggs to order, will be available. Call (210) 561-6117.

Robbie Nowlin, who left Jason Dady’s the Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, to work at the prestigious French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., has returned to town. He will be working for Dady again, this time at Bin 555.

The Esquire Tavern

The Esquire Tavern, 155 E. Commerce St., has been named one of the top bars in America by Men’s Fitness magazine. The listing says that “Luckily despite its tourist-y location, this is a casual local favorite that just happens to boast the longest wooden bar in Texas. At 79 feet it’s the perfect spot to throw back a few Lone Stars (the “National Beer of Texas”), and hang with the locals. As for cocktails they’re fittingly big and boozy.”

The Grand Hyatt, 600 E. Market St., has a new executive chef. Lawrence Eells grew up moving around the world. As a young boy in a military family, he spent the majority of his childhood in places such as Okinawa, the Philippines, Shanghai, Hawaii, Albuquerque, San Diego, Minneapolis and Dallas.

After paying his way through college by working in the food industry, Eells took a job as chef de cuisine at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis in 1982. Since then, he has held a 30-year culinary career with Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, working nearly every position in the kitchen at nine properties across the United States, opening four hotels and forging incredible, long-lasting relationships along the way. Most recently, Eells was the executive chef at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa in Hawaii, a position he held for the past six years.“I bring excitement and innovation with strong roots,” he said. “I hope to continue to use my background and experience to make myself valuable to Hyatt for years to come.”

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Restaurant Notes & Quotes: Wine, Winners and a Special Dinner


Robbie Nowlin (Photograph courtesy The Lodge at Castle Hills)

Lodge chef heading to Napa, French Laundry

As we reported last month, the chef de cuisine at The Lodge at Castle Hills, Robbie Nowlin, is headed to a new position at the French Laundry, Thomas Keller’s famed restaurant in Napa Valley, Calif. (Click here for details.)

To celebrate this achievement, Nowlin will be preparing a “Last Dinner” from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday. This will be an over-the-top menu featuring caviar, uni steam buns, Moulard duck foie gras en terrine, butter-poached Maine lobster tail, sous vide Akaushi New York strip and crème brulée.

The Lodge is at 1746 Lockhill Selma Road. Call for reservations at (210) 349-8466. Price is $120 a person plus tax and tip.

A win for South Side Whataburger team

San Antonio Whataburger GM Juan Salinas and nine of his employees are $1,000 richer this week, after they took a bronze medal in the Burger Olympics, held in Grapevine. The team is from the Whataburger unit at 503 S.W. Military Drive.

Salinas and the team competed with 16 teams during a two-day competition at the Gaylord Texan Resort. The three-part competition involved a simulated 30-minute lunch rush at a nearby Whataburger restaurant, a game-show style competition and a card game related to Whataburger’s procedures.

Employees who stayed in San Antonio to run the restaurant each also received $100 for their part in making the San Antonio restaurant excel.

All this — and bubble-and-squeak, too!

Check out the Saturday drink specials at all locations of the Lion and Rose British Restaurant & Pub. Guinness Stout, Harp Lager, Half & Halfs pints are $3.95; Bushmills is $4.50.  From 4-7 p.m. on Saturdays, well drinks are $2.99 and a selection of domestic bottled beers are $2.75. From 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., it’s karaoke time, hosted by KJ Krystal and more than 100,000 song titles to choose from.  Check out Lion and Rose locations by clicking here.

Champagne Sunday’s at Max’s

The Sunday brunch menu at Max’s Wine Dive includes several specialty eye-openers: Pomegranate or Blood Orange Mimosa Sunrise (sparkling wine, orange juice and splash of POM pomegranate); Raspberry Mint Mimosas; Peach Bellinis (Prosecco, peach, fresh squeezed orange juice); and Clementine-Ginger Mimosas. You can order each by the glass or get a flight of three.

Plus:

• All  sparklers sold on-premise are sold at a special “Champagne Sunday” price.

• All sparklers sold for retail (to-go) through The Black Door are sold at case price per bottle.

• Popular trivia, for prizes every hour.

• Drawings — tables can enter by supplying a business card or filling out a Black Door sign up form. Drawings are weekly.
Each Sunday six winners will win a prize and a chance to be entered in the Tête de Cuvée prize drawing — a VIP Champagne/sparkling wine tour for 6 people with Chef James and Max’s Wine Guru, Chris Renteria.

Max’s Wine Dive is at 340 E. Basse Road.  210-444-9547

Texas Pride Barbecue proud to offer Bike Night, Friday Night Fish Fry

The barbecue is good, the peach cobbler sensational, at Texas Pride Barbecue, 2980 E. Loop 1604 in Adkins.

But this time of year there’s even more on the menu.

Celebrating its sixth year while drawing upwards of 500 motorcycle enthusiasts on rides from mild to wild, Bike Night runs from 6:30-10:30 p.m. every Thursday. There is no cover charge.

A favorite for everyone from teenagers, families with toddlers and grandparents, the ninth annual Friday Night Fish Fry & Free Dance takes place from 7-11 p.m. every Friday.

“I want everyone to know that Texas Pride Barbecue is all about families,” owner Tony Talanco said. “All events are family oriented, even Bike Night. The No. 1 reason for doing all these events is to bring families together to have a good time.”

Both events will run weekly through October. Kids can have fun in the safe environment of a large playground.

For more information on upcoming music events, click here. Call for more information at 210-649-3730.

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