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Tiu Steppi’s Steps Up for Restaurant Week


Who doesn’t love a bowl of handmade noodles, all eggy and rich, covered with a sauce made out of mushrooms or plenty of cream and cheese?

tiu steppis

The patio at Tiu Steppi’s

Steve Warner knows their appeal. His Restaurant Week menu for Tiu Steppi’s Osteria features several entree options, which you can get served over handmade fettucine, if you like. Mashed Yukon gold potatoes is another option, if you prefer.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Those noodles were a welcome nest for Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Florentine. At the center of the chicken breast meat, kept moist by the prosciutto, was a scoop of warm sauteed spinach, all of which melted together over in a cheesy sauce made with Parmesan, asiago and mozzarella. But even better were the oven-dried tomatoes that added a bright touch that cut through all that velvety sauciness.

Yellow and green pasta were the base chosen for the 8-ounce beef tenderloin, which was topped with gorgonzola, garlic and chives. The meat could have used a little more marbling for flavor, but it worked well with the rest of the ingredients in the dish, including a porcini mushroom sauce. That sauce had full mushroom flavor, but we wondered if powdered porcini had been used to achieve that, because the slices in the sauce looked more like cremini or button cap.

If you’ve ever been to Tiu Steppi’s on a Saturday night, Restaurant Week notwithstanding, you likely have faced a wait. When my colleague Bonnie Walker and I arrived, we were informed that it would be 30 minutes before we got an inside seat, but we were also told that we could start our meal on the patio. Thanks to a giant fan that kept the air moving, sitting on the patio wasn’t unpleasant, but we actually got our table before our first course arrived.

Smoked Salmon Carpaccio

Smoked Salmon Carpaccio

So we settled down in the air conditioned comfort of the cozy dining room just as our order of smoked salmon carpaccio arrived with plenty of welcome, salty capers on top.  It disappeared so quickly that it might not seem possible for us to have noticed how carefully layered the flavors were, but we did enjoy the tang of the lemon dressing along with the peppery arugula and bitter radicchio.

Our other start was a lively Caesar salad with plenty of anchovy flavor — thanks go to our waitress for pointing that out — along with fresh garlic, tangy grape tomatoes and salty Parmesan cheese.

Dessert brought the lone misstep of the evening. A dish listed as Coffee and Doughnuts featured cappuccino semi-freddo and house-made doughnuts dusted in cinnamon sugar. It certainly looked impressive when it arrived, but the semi-freddo, which is supposed to be soft, had frozen rock hard, and that forced the texture off balance, leaving each bite slick and overly unctuous. The doughnuts may have been made in house, but they had also been made a long time before they were served and had partially dried out.

The dark chocolate torte was an unqualified success, silky and rich yet light enough after that filling dinner.

A fine meal, pleasant service and steady air conditioning, so bracing after a day of manual labor, certainly made for an enjoyable  evening. But the intimacy of Tiu Steppi’s carried our fun Saturday one step further. The people around us were really enjoying themselves. A family next to us were visiting for the first time, and they raved about their meat-laden pizza, while enjoying the looks of the dishes that arrived at ours. That easy-going give-and-take made us really feel at home.

Tiu Steppi’s Osteria
9910 West Loop 1604 North #123
210-688-9885
www.tiusteppis.com

Coffee and Doughnuts

Coffee and Doughnuts

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Burgers, BBQ and Beer — a Match Made in San Antonio Heaven


Michael Alvarez of the Grand Hyatt offers braised beef on a wheat bun.

Culinaria wound up five days of celebrating the finest in San Antonio food and spirits scene with an event that is tailored made for Texan tastes: Burgers, BBQ and Beer.

Sure, some wine and alcohol were thrown for good measure, but the highlights for the hundreds who thronged to the Pearl Brewery were treats such as the Wagyu beef burgers and lobster rolls that John Brand’s team from Las Canarias and Ostra served up.

Chef Jesse Perez of the upcoming Arcade restaurant offered up a chorizo burger, while Steve Warner of Two Step Restaurant served pulled pork with slaw on a buttery bun. Chef Michael Flores from Sur la Table offered pulled pork, too, but he complemented his with pulled shrimp.

John Brand is engulfed in smoke as he prepares burgers.

Jeff Balfour of Citrus won fans with a decidedly different rabbit burger with cheese and Dijon mustard; the bottles of Shiner Wild Hare Pale Ale that he and his staff used to fight off the heat were not chosen because of the meat, Balfour said with a laugh. Shere Henrici of the Rolling Pig had an Asian-influenced sweet and sour pork dish with peanuts adding crunch to the sauce.

Michael Alvarez was part of the Grand Hyatt team, which  served up three-day braised beef with house-made giardinara and a raspberry gelatin  shooter that had a touch of chocolate in it.

The array of burgers included patties made of sausage, venison and other meats came from the likes of Magnolia Pancake Haus, the Esquire Tavern and EZ’s, while barbecue came from Ben E. Keith and Q on the Riverwalk among others.

For those who partied a little too much the previous night at the Grand Tasting or wherever the party may have been, Jason Dady offered Bloody Mary’s with a smoky barbecue flavor.

Pet the possum? Sure, just not around the head.

Bakery Lorraine and Flour Power were among those offering sweets, with macarons in several flavors, brownies, cookies and cake bites drawing snackers of all ages.

For those in search of something a little different, Kameron Bean of Wild Times Edutainment brought a possum, a hedgehog and a non-fragrant skunk for people to pet. The shaded area drew plenty of interested visitors, as did the mister area, which helped take an edge off the warm day.

The sun made an icy beer all the more welcome, as Culinaria closed out its festival season on a high note.

 

 

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Make Your Own Scotch Eggs


Two Step's Seafood Scotch Egg

Chef Steve Warner of Two Step Restaurant and Cantina, 9840 W. Loop 1604 W., has given Scotch eggs a makeover. Instead of rolling the eggs in sausage, he has created a seafood coating that mixes salmon and shrimp together.

Two Step’s Seafood Scotch Egg

¼ pound fresh salmon fillet
1 ounce smoked salmon
¼ pound black peeled tiger prawns
1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon salt
4 medium eggs, soft-boiled for 6 minutes
¾ cup flour seasoned
2 medium eggs beaten
¾ cup bread crumbs
1 quart vegetable oil

Dice salmon fillet, smoked salmon and tiger prawns, then chop finely. Mix together with chives and salt. When mixed, place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Peel soft-boiled eggs, being careful not to break. Take seafood mix out of the fridge and divide into four equal parts.

With wet hands, mold seafood mix around soft-boiled egg, making sure that the mix is equal thickness around the egg. When all eggs are covered with the seafood mix, place in the fridge on grease-proof paper for 30 minutes.

In three separate containers, you should have;

  • Seasoned flour
  • Beaten eggs
  • Bread crumbs

Pass the seafood scotch eggs from flour to eggs then to bread crumbs.

Heat the oil in a fryer to 160 degrees. Put scotch eggs into the flyer and cook until golden brown. Take out and put into an oven tray and finish in an oven preheated to 200 degrees for 3 minutes.

Take out of the oven, cut in half and serve with green salad and caper relish.

Makes 4 eggs.

From Steve Warner/Two Step Restaurant and Cantina

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Chefs’ Corner: Two Step El Rey Chocolate Silk Custard


El Rey Chocolate Silk Custard

Two Step Restaurant and Cantina, 9840 W. Loop 1604 N. (at Braun Road), is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a dessert that’s guaranteed to melt any chocolate lover’s heart. Chef Steve Warner’s El Rey Chocolate Silk Custard is a type of flan with the mysterious density of chocolate added.

Warner uses El Rey Chocolate, the Fredericksburg chocolate company that produces world class chocolates. They help make this a treat that would be welcome any time of year.

For more information on Two Step, call 210-688-2686 or visit twosteprestaurant.com.

El Rey Chocolate Silk Custard

1/4 chocolate liqueur, divided use
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided use
3 cups heavy cream
2 cups El Rey 58.5 percent dark chocolate
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs
3 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Set out 6 soufflé cups. Pour 1 tablespoon chocolate liqueur into each cup.

Over a low flame, melt 1/2 cup sugar to the hard crack stage. Pour 2 tablespoons of the melted sugar into each of the cups.

Over a low flame, bring the heavy cream to a steam. Add the chocolate and the vanilla. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, yolks, remaining sugar and remaining chocolate liqueur. Then temper the eggs with the chocolate and egg mixture.

Put the chocolate custard into the soufflé cups. Place the cups into a water bath and bake until the internal temperature of the custards reaches 185. Remove from the water bath, let cool, and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, heat a thin knife in boiling water. Run around the edge of each custard. Upend each custard on a plate and serve.

Makes 6 custards.

From Steve Warner, Two Step Restaurant

 

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Chefs’ Corner: A Pair of Margaritas from Two Step


Two Step Restaurant has a whole menu of margaritas.

At Two Step Restaurant and Cantina, 9840 W. Loop 1604 N., chef Steve Warner offers up some hearty Texas fare, including fork-tender chicken-fried steak, as it’s called on the menu, fried catfish, bacon-wrapped pork loin and barbecue, all in a building that was fashioned around two 19th century landmarks.

To wash down that food, he has a full menu of margaritas to suit every taste. And he has shared a couple of recipes.

“The key to all our margaritas is the fresh squeezed juice,” says Adrienne Muñoz, who is Warner’s wife and manager of the restaurant. “We tried several options of store bought, non-pastuerized juice and the flavor just isn’t the same.”

If the limes are too bitter for you, add a touch of agave nectar to provide balance, she says.

For more information on Two Step Restaurant, click here.

El Jefe

This is the cantina’s best-selling margarita, Muñoz says.

1 1/4 ounces Gran Centenario Reposado Tequila
3/4 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce Grand Marnier
1 1/4 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice

Add tequila, Cointrea, Grand Marnier and lime juice to an ice-filled shaker. Shake until cold. Pour into a chilled margarita glass rimmed with lime and salt. Garnish with a slice of lime.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Steve Warner/Two Step Restaurant and Cantina

Two Step Restaurant is on West Loop 1604 North.

The Silver Spur

This is the staff favorite.

1 1/4 ounces Espolon Silver Tequila
1 1/4 ounces Cointreau
1 1/4 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice

Add tequila, Cointrea and lime juice to an ice-filled shaker. Shake until cold. Pour into a chilled margarita glass rimmed with lime and salt. Garnish with a slice of lime.

“The key to all our margaritas is the fresh squeezed juice. We tried several options of store bought, non-pastuerized juice and the flavor just isn’t the same.”

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Steve Warner/Two Step Restaurant and Cantina

 

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Restaurant Notes: Dough to Expand in Early 2012


Dough is expanding.

Dough Pizzeria Napoletana, 6989 Blanco Road, will soon be expanding, if all goes according to plan.

Owner Doug Horn has signed a lease on the 900-square-foot space next door, which currently houses an insurance office. He’ll take over the space by the beginning of the year, he says, and hopes to have the work done within three months.

Diners have hoped Dough would get some more space. Since the restaurant was featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” it’s can be hard landing a table because now the whole city — and the country — know of Doug and Lori Horn’s fine Italian fare, which includes a burrata bar for cheese lovers.

But the new space won’t have too many new tables, Horn says. He needs more room for the cheese making, a wine bar and space for cooking. So, they will also spread out with a few extra tables added.

Horn has been in Dallas this week at the second location of Dough.

Grimaldi's Pizzeria has opened at the Quarry Village.

In other restaurant news, Grimaldi’s has opened a second coal-fired pizzeria in town. The chain is now at the Quarry Village, 330 E. Basse Road.

Click here for more information.

Also new to the dining scene is Two Step Restaurant and Cantina, 9840 W. Loop 1604 N. at Braun Road.

We’ll get to the food in a minute, but let’s talk about the building first. It has been “constructed from a homestead originally built in the 1850s by early American pioneers and German immigrants, Philipp and Carolina (Braun) Ruempel,” the restaurant’s website says. “Philipp and Carolina were among the earliest settlers of Helotes, Texas. After marrying in 1869 they raised 10 children in the Ruempel homestead and remained there for the rest of their lives. The restaurant is constructed from what originally functioned as a house and barn.”

Chef Steve Warner, formerly of Wildfish Seafood Grille and Morton’s the Steakhouse, has created a menu that captures the Texas spirit of the setting. It includes smoked meat plates, including beef ribs, brisket, chicken and beef and pork links, as well as chicken-fried steak, bacon-wrapped pork loin, hot buttered shrimp with Tabasco-lemon sauce, and a grilled New York strip.

Family-style sides include fontina cheese and big-shell macaroni, Creole mustard red potato salad, borracho beans, and roasted corn dressed with cotija, lime, mayo and chile.

In the Cantina, the menu features “World Class Margaritas” as well as “Really Good Margaritas,” all of which require personal investigation. Beers, wines and specialty drinks fill out the list.

Word is, dancing will be added to the menu in the future.

Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. Click here for information or call (210) 688-2686.

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Silver Fork Winners at March of Dimes, Cantu and Warner


Bright lights, chef-prepared food and an auction set the stage for Sunday night’s March of Dimes Signature Chefs event at the Westin La Cantera Resort’s Grand Ballroom.

Issac Cantu, executive chef at Westin's Francesca at Sunset, wins Silver Fork Award for food at March of Dimes Signature Chefs event Sunday.

The Silver Fork Award for the top-rated food item went to chef Isaac Cantu, of Francesca’s at Sunset.  His dish was a Wild Boar Chop topped with a Pumpkin, Cardamom and Hibiscus Sauce, Coconut Caviar and Smoked Huckleberries.  Judges, including myself, Ron Bechtol and Chris Price, picked this chop for its adherence to the “farm to market” theme as well as the robust flavors and originality.

The Silver Fork Award for the top-selling package at auction went to Steve Warner, chef at Wildfish Seafood Grill. The package included dinner for 25, breakfast for 25 and a back massage, shoe shines and car washes for all who attend. The package sold for $3,600.

Sunday’s auction to “Fund the Mission” was designated to provide care for the youngest of infants.  The March of Dimes stated mission is  to “help moms have full-term pregnancies and research the problems that threaten the health of babies”.

Other standout foods of the evening included chef Brian West’s tender pork belly served with a poached pear in a pinot noir sauce; Troy Knapp chef at the Hyatt Hill Country for dates stuffed with homemade chorizo and wrapped with applewood bacon and SoGo’s Mark Arriola’s French-Vietnamese roast pork sandwich, Bahn-Mi (below left).

Homemade Chorizo-stuffed dates, wrapped in Applewood Smoked Bacon was offered by chef Troy Knapp of the Hyatt Hill Country.

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