The Big Night Out; After stuffing those stockings, make a great escape for New Year’s Eve

Story  by Pamela Price for the Leon Springs Community News (December 2010)

(Photographs were courtesy)

Perched as it is on the border of rural Central Texas and suburban San Antonio, Leon Springs is not known for greeting the New Year in high style.  And yet, mere minutes away, is one of the area’s most exclusive hotels, the sort of place where grown-up memories are made and celebrated year ‘round.

In fact, for this year’s New Year’s Eve, one of the restaurants at The Westin La Cantera Resort ( is taking a cue from the art world, drawing inspiration from one of the most legendary artists in American history. Essentially, if you’ve got a sitter and a hearty appetite, the resort is willing to amuse your palette, er, palate.

“Francesca’s at Sunset will be offering an imaginatively themed New Year Evening menu inspired by the work of art of Andy Warhol,” said Philippe Wilhelm, the resort’s director of food and beverage. He noted that the restaurant’s menu is designed to pair with an exclusive collection of vibrant, Warhol-inspired Champagne bottles, released earlier this year by the prestigious Dom Pérignon brand.

According to Wilhelm, the evening’s theme is “Famous for: 15,” a reference to one of Warhol’s memorable 1968 quips: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” For the meal, chef de cuisine Ernie Estrada will prepare what’s billed as a “Luxury Pop Art” menu featuring menu items reminiscent of Warhol’s iconic artwork such as Campbell’s Chicken Noodle (house-made pasta noodles with natural chicken) and Cow with Diamond Dust Shoes (Wagyu beef and rock candy).

In addition to wine list specials prepared by award-winning resort sommelier Steven Krueger, two famous Moet and Chandon champagnes (Dom Pérignon and Imperial) will be served.  Promotional materials promise “unique door prizes” and other “fun activities,” all at a restaurant known for both its view and commitment to local, seasonal produce.

The price tag for an evening of fine food, libations, and “VVIP treatment” at Francesca’s is $125 per person, plus tax and gratuity.

For those of us with a princely appetite but a more modest budget, the resort’s casual Brannon’s Café has on offer a $59 four course menu featuring sweet potato gnocchi and a delightful salad of  “compressed English cucumber, torched avocado, aerated elderflower liquor, petite lettuces, and a serrano and mint vinaigrette.” For the third course, New Year’s revelers can dine on prime strip steak (served with hoppin’ john mashed potatoes, crispy egg and blue crab hollandaise) or pan-seared wreck fish, smoked okra and pancetta risotto and golden tomato vinaigrette. For dessert, there’s the aptly-named “Before Your Resolution Chocolate Cake” made of dark chocolate génoise, mint cream and chocolate buttercream.

If you desire, you could arrange to check into the hotel for the evening (advanced reservations recommended for meals as well as rooms) to sleep off the evening’s indulgence and hit the resort’s top-notch gym in the morning before heading home.  At press time, rooms were still available via the web site beginning at $159 (plus tax and other charges) per night, with luxurious suites and casitas still available.

Of course, you could reserve a couple of rooms for the whole family, but following weeks of shopping, wrapping, cooking, tasting, sending, and (dare we confess?) collapsing at the end of the day, an elegant night a deux may be the perfect way to ring in the new year.

Yes, even if it’s just dinner and drinks.


A Little Bit Country

If dining with your family is your preference for your New Year’s Eve outing, look no further than the much beloved (and acclaimed) Scenic Loop Café at the intersection of Toutant Beauregard and Scenic Loop. “We will be serving our regular menu on New Year’s Eve,” said owner Christy Knight. “We will also have Brooke Shroeder playing that night and ringing in the New Year with no cover charge!” Knight notes, too, that the restaurant will be open for Christmas Eve (open menu) and Christmas Day (holiday buffet). For more information and to preview the regular and buffet menus, visit


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: