Monday, August 27, 2012

Culinaria Restaurant Week

You may be able to tell from previous posts that I am a lover of both food and drink.  I love sampling new restaurants and trying out a celebrity chef's various recipes.  I had heard about Culinaria in San Antonio, but had yet to get involved.  Culinaria is a sort of 'foodie' movement that coordinates events throughout the year for people who LOVE to try new cuisine and celebrate the art of cookery.  One of the events coordinated by Culinaria is Restaurant Week.  During Restaurant Week, participating restaurants create special lunch and dinner menus for $15 and $35 per person, respectively.  Most of the menus include three to four courses of the chef's selection and are offered at a much lower price than usual.  I was determined to participate this year, since I have forgotten to in years past.

My first foray was lunch at The Palm - downtown, to celebrate my boss' birthday.  About six of us gathered for the occasion and we all had a great, long lunch - with the approval of the boss, of course!  The Palm's Restaurant Week menu was quite appealing.  I liked almost all of the options, so it was difficult to decide which to choose.  I decided to go for the Chef's Soup of the Day for the first course, which was a seafood chowder and the Atlantic Salmon Filet for the main course.  Almost everyone at the table chose the same with the exception of one person!  We all agreed both courses were delicious and I particularly enjoyed the Carrot Cake we ordered for the table (cost additional to the $15 menu).  This was my first time at The Palm, as I have heard mixed reviews about it, and although I had seafood and not a steak, I would happily return for dinner.

On Friday night, DH and I headed for Tost on the recommendation of my friend, Ariane, who had dined there earlier in the week.  As soon as I heard it was French, I knew I had to try it out.  I am always looking for good French restaurants, which seem to be difficult to find as well as sustain here in San Antonio.

As soon as DH and I walked inside Tost, I immediately liked the atmosphere with its dim lights and modern, yet comfortable dining room.  Being the cocktail ambassadors that we are, we began with the basics: an Old Fashioned for DH and a Dirty Martini por moi.

Next, we examined the menu and wanted to try almost everything listed!  The Tost Restaurant Week Menu  had some tempting options that made it difficult for DH and I.  We finally agreed to order different items so we could taste as much as possible.  Another addition to our dinner we couldn't resist ordering: Truffled Fries with parmesan and aioli.

DH declared that these were the best fries he'd ever eaten saying, "Put that in your blog."  I have to agree, they were $7 of amazingly delicious potato genius.

The first course was Grilled Watermelon and Cucumber with Chimichurri Sauce.  To me, this course was just 'ok'.

I don't like cucumber, so I did not eat it, the watermelon and blue cheese were good, but nothing too exciting.

Next, I ordered the Seared Scallops and DH had the Braised Pork Belly.  Both were absolutely yummy.  I just love scallops, so as soon as they were set in front of me, I dug in, so no photo!  DH was so excited for the pork belly and it did not disappoint.

For the main course, I selected the Shrimp & Cheddar Grit Cake.  It was spicy and delicious.  DH had the Braised Beef, which he said reminded him of being at his grandma's house.  Any meal that reminds you of  your grandmother's cooking gets an A+ in my book.

After DH tasted my shrimp, he said he didn't think I'd like the braised beef because it had more of a mild, savory flavor.  However, as soon as I tasted it, I almost wanted to trade him dishes, it was so darn scrumptious.  I wouldn't have been that cruel, but I do remember thinking, "I wish I could make that at home."  I know there are many recipes for this dish, but duplicating the execution is the difficulty.

Although thoroughly satisfied, we still had one more course to go: the Gelato of the Day, which was Carrot Cake.

DH said this tiny scoop was just the right amount, but it was so yum, I could have eaten a whole bowl of it and been sick later.

The only caveat I'd give for Tost is that some of the waitstaff were dressed unprofessionally.  We spent over $100 for the two of us and let's just say for that kind of money as well as the expertise in the execution and presentation of the food,  I would expect a more professionally-attired waitstaff.  Chef, I  would ensure the staff rise to the level of your food...

DH and I both declared Tost as a new favorite restaurant and promised each other that we'd return soon to try more dishes on the menu, especially the risotto of the day!

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