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Trip Advisor Touts Las Canarias.

comment rates hotels, restaurantsâ?¦you name it; “reviews you can trust” is their tagline. And though our kudos go out to Las Canarias for coming in at #1 on their survey of 1390 San Antonio restaurants (!), we suggest that a few words of caution are in order. (More on Las Canarias, a restaurant nevertheless worthy of your attention, below.)

Of the nearly 1400 restaurants listed, it should be mentioned that the last one that actually has a customer review is #902, Sultan Café & Grill. (Admittedly, this is already quite a lot.) Many are closed (Le Rêve and Las Leyendas, for example), and some are actually hair salons, jewelry shops and day-old bakery outlets. After Las Canarias, the top ten list includes, in order, Ernesto's Mexican Specialties, Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse, Fogo de Chao Churrascaria, The Guenther House, Schilo's Delicatessen, Las Ramblas, Chris Madrid's, Boudro's, and Biga on the Banks. Burger Boy on St. Mary's tops Liberty Bar, Francesca's at Sunset, and Pavil Restaurant and Bar. And while we don't believe you have to be fancy to make the top ten, please give us a break. Il Sogno at #43? You gotta wonder.

But, as we said, nevertheless: This wouldn't be our top ten, but Las Canarias would certainly be a contender. You could find out for yourself by starting with lunch in the light-filled dining room on the River Walk, or you could pony up for a romantic dinner. But we have another suggestion: Executive Chef John Brand is doing a special wine dinner on July 22 to showcase the wines of Palmaz Vineyards. It's a return of the not-so-prodigal-son event in that Dr. Palmaz (he of the heart stent patent) left San Antonio to make it very big in the world of California wine, and though the family has been back before, this should be an especially festive occasion. We realize this is short notice.

The menu, however, includes some very tempting items. The roasted beef marrow with oxtail marmalade (no less) and Meyer Lemon salad. Or perhaps you might respond to the hand-foraged mushroom risotto paired with the 2005 Palmaz Cabernet Sauvignon or the local, Menzies Farm lamb shoulder and shank with dandelion greens, heirloom tomato tart and the 2006 Cab. The dinner concludes with the Palmaz Muscat Canelli and a sticky toffee pudding with banana caramel ice cream, toffee sauce and fresh cherriesâ??surely worth the price of admission alone. But wait, there's more: the reception with canapés and the Palmaz 2008 Chardonnay. The cost is $85 plus tax and tip, really not at all bad, especially considering that kitchens such as Brand's are challenged to do their best by the opportunity to match their cuisine to exceptional wines. For reservation information, call 210-518-1017. If they're sold out, make a dinner reservation instead.

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