finlero's Profile

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Vietnamese in Santa Fe

Agree with ninrn, but I'd sooner send you down to ABQ, where there are approximately 2.8 billion Vietnamese restaurants along Central.

about 4 hours ago
finlero in Southwest

Santa Fe Talin Market's Crazily Awesome Monday-only "Pop-up Dumpling Bar"

Yep.

about 4 hours ago
finlero in Southwest

Fire & Hops, Santa Fe: hooray for more midscale tastiness

A self-proclaimed "gastropub" in the mold of Dr. Field Goods and Loyal Hound, Fire & Hops' arrival in Santa Fe is probably as good a time as any for me to shut up once and for all about the City Different not having a critical mass of good midscale eateries. The international ingredient accents make the menu itself it more interesting than Loyal Hound and very different than Dr. Field Goods; in terms of pure deliciousness I think it's still a tick behind the other two, but it's already very good and I suspect it'll get better.

The majority of the menu is small plates from around the world, some dishes sticking to a specific region and others leaning a little more fusion-style. (Straight-up ramen on the one hand, green chile poutine on the other, fish and chip fritters with salt and vinegar aioli somewhere in between). The flavors were generally quite good, as well as very bold and exceedingly complex, but to me the complexity periodically lapsed into a bit of muddiness, with too many disparate flavors fighting for attention without quite achieving that alchemical spark to bring it all together. Again, nothing bad and often very good, but it didn't all quite work yet. Standouts from our meal were deep-fried Brussels sprouts in fish sauce and a surprisingly refined grilled eggplant dish whose exact flavor profile is now eluding me due to...

...a pretty good craft beer selection. Lots of taps from NM and the rest of the West, with a Belgian or two thrown in. More taps than Loyal Hound, fewer than Dr. Field Goods, again I'd argue these other two are a little more interesting on the beer front. Wine list was kind of plonky for my tastes, no glasses over $10 and only one bottle over $50.

The digs are small, cozy, unpretentious, and convivial, located in one of the old houses on S. Guadalupe, a terrific spot to go on a cold winter night. Totally competent, not especially remarkable staff (which is all to the good). Like Loyal Hound and Dr. Field Goods, pretty good value. A dinner for two of about a half dozen small plates and two beers each came to $70 after tax and tip.

Dec 11, 2014
finlero in Southwest

Cheesemongers of Santa Fe is now open

Stopped in this week and was generally very impressed. They already have a good selection of cheeses from Europe and the US, which will presumably continue to expand as they lock in their supply lines. At least at present, the cheeses lean domestic; there's a particularly large number of cheeses from Vermont, which is neither specifically good nor specifically bad, just noteworthy. I was especially impressed with their blue cheese selection, large and diverse. Whole Foods still has a better selection of European cheeses, but again, I think this place will get there, and I'd much, much rather support this up-and-coming local business.

They have a more limited selection of cured meats, again leaning domestic and again pretty well selected (lots of products from Creminelli out of Utah). Also the expected array of olives, fancy pickles, jams, dried pastas, local bread, etc.

Staff is young, knowledgeable, and generally personable, rather conspicuously trained to drop a fact or two into conversation to demonstrate that they know their stuff. If nothing else, they do a great job chumming the waters with copious free samples, which I'm sure pays dividends. Prices are high but not crazy for the quality (many cheeses in the $20-$30/lb range). Immaculately clean, nicely lit space. Looks like they already have a friendly relationship with the La Casa Sena wine shop to do joint tastings.

Dec 11, 2014
finlero in Southwest

Arroyo Vino, Santa Fe: the best upscale restaurant in New Mexico

Aaaaaaand now Mark Connell is gone. Sous chef has taken over, keeping the menu more or less the same for now.

Dec 08, 2014
finlero in Southwest

ABQ NEW MEXICAN CLASSICS

Two more high-end Southwestern places in Santa Fe that don't commit crimes against gastronomy: the Compound and Geronimo. Both are quite expensive.

My favorite midscale place in Santa Fe right now is called Dr. Field Goods. It's just a storefront south of town, but they do delicious and fun riffs on New Mexican cuisine (carne adovada egg rolls) and they have a particularly good beer program. Loyal Hound is a similarly great spot, but there's less NM-style stuff on the menu.

Nov 23, 2014
finlero in Southwest

ABQ NEW MEXICAN CLASSICS

Hi five!

Nov 23, 2014
finlero in Southwest

ABQ NEW MEXICAN CLASSICS

You might argue Indigo Crow in Corrales fits the bill, but I'm a little whatevery on that place. It's anything but bad, and some people love it, but 9 times out of 10 I'd much rather go the downscale places ninrn mentioned above. Definitely not a Topolobampo level experience, but it also doesn't pretend to be.

Santa Fe has quite a few upscale New Mex style places and nearly all of them are mediocre or outright bad. One place I do like along these lines is Joseph's, especially the bar menu. Ristra is decent too.

Nov 22, 2014
finlero in Southwest

Caramel Corn

I love easy recipes that make me look like a genius. I highly recommend sneaking some caramel coated popcorn before baking...ain't half bad gooey.

Nov 02, 2014
finlero in Recipes
1

Carne adovada

You're telling me. I lived in Boston for 10 years and was an avid CH poster. There's, like, 5 semi-active posters on this board.

Oct 22, 2014
finlero in Southwest

Carne adovada

My favorite carne adovada is at El Rancho de Chimayo (no relation to the Casa) about 35 minutes north in Chimayo.

In Santa Fe itself, El Merendero (aka Posa's) is absolutely excellent. The place is no frills but very clean.

And if you'll be in Albuquerque, it may not be the bar-none best, but I absolutely crave the Frontier/Golden Pride's #2 breakfast burrito of carne adovada, eggs, hash browns, and cheese, on a homemade tortilla.

Oct 20, 2014
finlero in Southwest

"Restaurant Impossible" Is Doing Another Albuquerque Segment - Does anyone recognize this place?

It's the Shade Tree, yes on Nob Hill, a hybrid bar, grill, and motorcycle repair shop. I liked the place mainly because it was a good venue for live local music, but that stopped due to funding issues. The food and drink weren't half bad, and I don't have a motorcycle, so. Hope R:I can help, it seems like a well-intentioned operation.

Oct 18, 2014
finlero in Southwest
1

Bonnie's Jams: obscenely good, obscenely priced jam

Well right, I'm a DIY guy too, for example I roast my own coffee for the same reasons you make your own jam (better control over taste, arguably cheaper in the long run). And $9 is expensive enough that the "good ingredients cost money" argument rings pretty hollow. That said, whether it's coffee or jam or upscale restaurant food, I'm sometimes willing to pay a premium for something that's up to my DIY standards; just because I have the ability doesn't mean I can't choose to spend my time and effort on something else. My point was just that Bonnie's was good enough that I didn't feel totally scammed for the price, especially at 6 or 7 bucks vs. 9. This is a great reminder, though, that I need to take a stab at making homemade jam, seems right up my alley.

Oct 02, 2014
finlero in General Topics

Bonnie's Jams: obscenely good, obscenely priced jam

I happened to stumble on Bonnie's Jams in the refrigerated section of my neighborhood Whole Foods, and in a moment of effete weakness I threw a $7 jar of the apricot orange in my basket.

Holy crap, that's some amazing jam. I doubly followed the serving suggestion on the front, "tasty with toast or a creamy cheese" and had it on toast with whole milk ricotta. Neither too sweet from the apricot and sugar, nor too tart or bitter from the orange, just beautifully balanced and complex.

The price makes me hate myself too much for this to become a regular indulgence, but it really is a spectacular product.

http://www.bonniesjams.com/

Sep 29, 2014
finlero in General Topics

looking for "real NEW Mexican" in Santa Fe

Well...it's inexpensive before you tack on a few of their excellent silver coin margaritas, about 10 bucks a pop. :-)

Sep 26, 2014
finlero in Southwest

looking for "real NEW Mexican" in Santa Fe

If memory serves there's no difference in lunch and dinner prices. Most entrees are around the $10 mark, give or take 2 bucks.

Sep 26, 2014
finlero in Southwest

Santa Fe trip. . .suggestions?

How about Joseph's on Sunday? No OpenTable, but they do seatme. Personally I think it's better than any of the options you listed.

Taberna and La Boca are pretty darn similar, which would be great if you enjoy La Boca and not so great if you don't.

Sep 22, 2014
finlero in Southwest

looking for "real NEW Mexican" in Santa Fe

P.S. Anything upscale won't be real New Mex either. If real New Mex is your goal, steer clear of Santa Cafe, Coyote Cafe, Geronimo, etc.

Sep 21, 2014
finlero in Southwest

looking for "real NEW Mexican" in Santa Fe

Virtually everything in town is New Mex, especially anywhere near downtown. A few exceptions are the amazing Salvadoran pupuseria in the Days Inn on Cerrillos and El Comal, both multiple miles SW the Plaza.

Three NM favorites in ABQ: Mary & Tito's, Barela's, Padilla's.

El Rancho de Chimayo in Chimayo (different than Casa Chimayo in SF) is also excellent.

Sep 21, 2014
finlero in Southwest

looking for "real NEW Mexican" in Santa Fe

A board search will turn up tons of choices on this low-traffic board, but my $0.02:

My preferred NM places in town right now are Plaza Cafe, especially Southside, and sister restaurants the Shed and La Choza. Not my top picks, but some people also like Tia Sophia's (certainly canonical if nothing else), Casa Chimayo (people I trust rave about it, but I've only had so-so chow there), and Maria's (very strong margaritas, decent chow). Pasqual's has some good NM food at breakfast and lunch, not as much at dinner.

The best NM food I know is down in Albuquerque, but all the good places close before dinner.

Sep 20, 2014
finlero in Southwest

Arroyo Vino, Santa Fe: the best upscale restaurant in New Mexico

Well color me surprised: Arroyo Vino isn’t good, it’s freakin’ phenomenal. Sorry in advance for the long write-up…

The restaurant had been on my radar for a while just because the “small plates with an adjoining wine shop” concept seemed like a layup even if the chow was only OK, and even if it was way the heck out in Las Campanas. But the chow isn’t only OK, it’s easily the best upscale food I can think of anywhere in the state.

Long winded semi-aside: when my better half and I lived in the Boston area, there was no shortage of ways to hemorrhage our hard-earned cash on high-end dining. We were lucky enough to slowly dine our way through the marquee places around town, from the stuffy Parisian formality of L’Espalier to the aggressive rusticness of Craigie on Main. But the place we kept coming back to was a small, somewhat off-the-radar bistro on a Cambridge side street named Salts. Salts’ chef, Gabriel Bremer, was a Ferran Adria disciple, but rather than using molecular gastronomy techniques to create a cerebral, boundary pushing art project, he chose to focus on farm-to-table deliciousness first and foremost, with the occasional flourish of molecular gastronomy punctuating his dishes for effect. Much of Salts’ produce came from their own farm in Vermont, and preparations tended to be understated, giving the excellent ingredients a chance to stand on their own merits. But many of the dishes also sported just a dash of MG to keep your interest, for example we once had a roasted fish dish topped with black truffle “caviar”, engineered little edible pearls that would burst with a delicate truffled liquid when bitten into.

So all of this is a roundabout way of saying that although it’s impressive that Mark Connell, Arroyo Vino’s executive chef, studied at CIA Greystone and worked at French Laundry, I’m much more excited that he worked under Gabriel Bremer at Salts. The food uses a very similar playbook, starting with top-notch ingredients (some from AV’s own garden), employing many relatively simple preparations (unlike Salts, leaning a little more Italian than French), and throwing in the occasional molecular gastronomic twist to make the experience unusual, playful, and fun. AV’s menu is seasonal and market driven, thus it changes frequently, but a few highlights from our visit: heirloom tomatoes with goat cheese sorbet and olive oil croquant (this last was a little crystallized candy filled with a robust olive oil), a special of sweetbreads, impossibly light pan fried gnocchi, and a sous vide egg, and an unbelievable Colorado peach soufflé. The daily specials are purported to be the most experimental items offered, I’ll be excited to get back to try more of them.

Circling back to the rest of the concept, the adjoining wine store is a tremendous value add, especially at the high end: you can bring any of their 600+ bottles over from the store for a flat $20 markup over the retail price. Tons of excellent, fairly priced selections, with a lot of emphasis on Italy, France, and Spain. And although there are some bottles it would be a crime to drink right away (just-released Bordeaux and Brunello), there are plenty of choices that are totally ready to drink.

Arroyo Vino has cultivated a semi-casual bistro vibe, with wood floors, colored metal chairs, and chalkboard specials. It’s a bit loud for an upscale restaurant, but not deafening. The well-trained staff is just about bouncing out of their shoes with excitement over the great product they’re turning out, which is in turns sweet and slightly exasperating; it’s one of those restaurants where it takes an extra 30 seconds per dish for them to recite all the different components. Prices are quite high and worth every penny: $5 - $10 for the smallest “bites”, $15 - $20 for tapas-sized “plates”, and a couple of full-sized entrees in the high $20s or low $30s.

The only drawback is the Las Campanas location – it’s a “Santa Fe shlep” (almost 20 minutes from downtown) to get out there, but it’s dramatically faster and cheaper than hopping a flight to Boston to go to Salts, so I’ll go ahead and keep my yap shut.

http://arroyovino.com/

Sep 17, 2014
finlero in Southwest
1

Santa Fe trip. . .suggestions?

Just made it to Arroyo Vino. Run, don't walk, it's absolutely stellar. I'll write in more detail soon.

Sep 14, 2014
finlero in Southwest

Santa Fe: Canyon Road lunch?

Gotcha, fair enough. The only one I really dislike is the Teahouse, probably for semi-irrational reasons, but some people swear by it. Personally I get annoyed by the aloofness of the staff, the sometimes bizarrely long waits for simple food, and the mild, vague dirtiness of the place.

The Compound, El Farol, and Cafe Des Artistes all fall into the category of "there are better similar options elsewhere in town", but they're each fine for what they are.

Sep 10, 2014
finlero in Southwest

Santa Fe: Canyon Road lunch?

The only other restaurant I can think of on Canyon Road is Cafe Des Artistes. I've only been a couple of times but the food struck me as more serviceable than I might have expected.

Frankly, none of the options you've listed, including the Pink Adobe, are anywhere near my high rotation. Places downtown I specifically enjoy for lunch (search for more info on this board for any of them): Taberna, the Beestro, Terra Cotta, the Shed, Shohko Cafe, Plaza Cafe, Santa Cafe, Santa Fe Bite.

Sep 10, 2014
finlero in Southwest

Food-centric weekend

Yep, Taberna and La Boca (sister restaurants sharing a kitchen) are both reliably good, especially during harvest season when their farm-to-table ethos is in full effect.

Sep 02, 2014
finlero in Southwest

Santa Fe trip. . .suggestions?

La Casa Sena - I haven't been, but over and over again I hear that the food simply doesn't stand up to the wine program. If you go I'd probably suggest hitting the Cantina and just accepting the fact you're effectively getting mediocre bar food to go with some excellent wine and a nice setting.

I haven't been to Arroyo Vino, but if you don't mind driving 15 minutes out of town their food is purported to be spectacular. I've poked around their adjoining wine shop (all bottles fair game to bring to the dining room) and it's lovely.

In terms of tapas, El Farol < El Meson < Taberna < La Boca, and I have little use for the first two. In terms of entertainment El Farol and El Meson both have live music, which makes them fun.

Chimayo: El Rancho de Chimayo is very good for straight-up Northern New Mexican food, definitely worth stopping for a meal.

Abiquiu: the restaurant at Abiquiu Inn is better than it needs to be and not too expensive; this isn't a rave, but it's reliably tasty. Also, Bode's general store makes surprisingly good sandwiches, also sporting a few fancy yuppified drinks like Itoen cold teas. If you want real-deal local color, Espanola isn't the prettiest of towns but there's plenty of local regional chow. I get a kick out of the apple fritters at the Lovin' Oven, and although I haven't been I've heard some good things about El Paragua for lunch and dinner.

I'm not crazy about Tia Sophia's; it's fine, but it's not on par with the other NNM choices on the thread. Bumble Bee's is good in that it's fresh and innocuous, but it's not a chow revelation.

I'd highly recommend Dr. Field Goods and Loyal Hound for Santa Fe riffs on farm-to-table, both well outside the tourist vortex.

Sep 02, 2014
finlero in Southwest

Santa Fe trip. . .suggestions?

I grew up in Phoenix, I'm afraid Terra isn't much like T. Cook's. When Encandato (now managed by Four Seasons) was an Auberge property and Charles Dale was the chef it was a reliably good spot, if overpriced; now it's just expensive, overly safe, and dull.

Sep 02, 2014
finlero in Southwest

Joseph's of Santa Fe

Interesting, I'll definitely have to check out Arroyo Vino. To be fair, a restaurant's employees saying the restaurant is the best is a little like my mom telling me I'm cool ("But you are!"), but point taken all the same.

Aug 26, 2014
finlero in Southwest

Are New Mexican green chiles seasonal?

I don't know if restaurants store a whole year's supply or if they buy periodic wholesale batches (presumably it varies from restaurant to restaurant), but it'll definitely be frozen. The chile harvest is late summer only; the lowest point in NM is about 2800 feet, so we have winters despite being so far south.

As for home cooking, lots and lots of people in NM have chest freezers to store their personal chile stashes for the year. Each August or September you buy a 50 lb sack of green chile at the grocery store, get it roasted in the parking lot (chile roasters look like giant bingo tumblers with propane jets at the bottom), divvy it up in to whatever size bags you find useful, and freeze until needed. Every late summer you'll see ads in the paper for sales on chest freezers.

Aug 26, 2014
finlero in General Topics
1

Are New Mexican green chiles seasonal?

I live in NM where green chile seems to be on the majority of restaurant menus (including McDonalds, Sonic, etc.), and here at least, most restaurants get locally roasted chile from around Hatch and freeze for the year. It freezes and thaws very well, and I've never been able to tell much of a difference between the in season vs. the frozen. There's definitely a range of quality; in my experience you've found a good batch if the pieces of chile are irregularly cut, have some char marks, and sport the occasional tinge of red.

CO, AZ, CA, west TX, and Mexico all grow their own green chile. A lot of people in NM claim that the terroir around Hatch stands its chile head and shoulders above anywhere else; I'm not enough of an expert to really have an opinion. Regardless, there are a number of protectionist in-state campaigns to "keep New Mexico green" and only source local green chile, and NM's usually amicable relations with Colorado periodically get a little testy when CO publicly touts its green chile over NM's.

Aug 25, 2014
finlero in General Topics