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Radish & Rye - Santa Fe

With the recent openings of Eloisa, Julia, and Radish & Rye, this seems like one of the more interesting moments in Santa Fe's moribund fine dining scene in the last few years. We made our first visit to Radish & Rye tonight and had a promising but somewhat schizophrenic dinner.

Located in the space formerly occupied by Ristra, Radish & Rye has a distinct farm to table sensibility, an extensive bourbon list, and a well thought-out cocktail program that includes classics, riffs on classics, and original creations. We sampled two items from the cocktail menu (Cherry Smash and Hummingbird), both of which were superb. The wine list, unfortunately, is a big letdown - just another obvious, overpriced Santa Fe list. The wine program at Loyal Hound (just to pick one example) is more interesting by several orders of magnitude (not to mention more affordable).

The menu is divided into about 15 small plates and half a dozen larger entrees. We started with three small plates, all of which were extremely well executed. Steak tartare was bright, luscious (due to the quail egg topping), and beautifully balanced, with just enough chile kick to keep things interesting. Fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese was a surprisingly faithful rendition of this southern classic, and the scallop ceviche was bright, vibrant, and actually showed off the scallops to good effect.

Larger plates were unfortunately a mixed bag. My pork chop with pork belly, polenta, and morels was simply enormous, and generally very good. My wife's rabbit ragu was completely inexplicable - one of those dishes that makes you think "how could this have come out of the same kitchen that produced all this other great food"? A few morsels of skimpily sauced braised rabbit were served on a bed of spaetzle with some undercooked carrots and beets on the side. It was severely underseasoned, and just seemed completely at odds with the bold, generous flavors we encountered in so many other dishes.

Despite that, this place is promising, if only for the small plates and cocktails. I REALLY wish they would put a little more effort into the wine program, but if the cocktails are all as good as the two we sampled you can just ignore the wine list. Definitely recommended, and given how well thought-out most of the dishes were it seems like it might get even better over time.

Jul 01, 2015
rcurtism in Southwest

Santa Fe and Albuquerque

I can't argue with finlero's comments on Terra, but unfortunately Gabriel's isn't much better (it probably wouldn't make most people's top 10 list for local New Mexican joints), and there isn't much else to choose from north of town (Tesuque Village Market is just about the only other option, and I can't really recommend it, especially for dinner).

Some folks like the margaritas at Gabriel's, and they're known for tableside guacamole, so maybe you could start with drinks and guacamole on the patio at Gabriel's and then head back to Terra for bar snacks and some great sunset views. Have fun!

Jun 18, 2015
rcurtism in Southwest

Flagstaff - Criollo and Charlie's, and a request

If you're interested in something a little more on the fine dining end of things we had a nice meal at Brix on our last pass through Flagstaff. This was over a year ago, so I can't recommend any specific dishes, but I remember it as a pleasant experience overall and something that I definitely would consider repeating on future visits. I believe it does share ownership with Criollo, for whatever that's worth.

Jan 14, 2015
rcurtism in Southwest

Santa Fe Wine & Chile Festival - Has anyone here been?

We've attended Wine & Chile consistently for many years now. As far as I know everything is a la carte - I don't recall ever seeing an all-inclusive option. The agenda typically includes several guest chef lunches at restaurants and other interesting venues around town (we attended one a few years ago at the Allan Houser Sculpture Garden south of town), most of which are very well done and sometimes sell out quickly.

The wine seminars can be a little hit or miss, and are unquestionably pricey. It has a lot to do with the quality of the moderators, so it's tough to come up with a general rule, but I think it might make sense to focus on seminars featuring higher end wineries and especially on sessions where the winery owners or winemakers are actually participating. In the past few years we've attended some great tastings moderated by the owners of Calera and Spottswoode wineries, although the single best seminar in recent years was a completely over the top Champagne tasting put on by a representative from one of the major Champagne houses a few years ago.

The Grand Tasting at the Opera on Saturday is the highlight of the fiesta, and it's one of the better events of its type that we've attended. It is crowded, and some of the participating restaurants and wineries have an annoying habit of running out halfway through the event, but the setting is great, the weather is usually spectacular, and it's just a great time. For a big splurge you can purchase VIP passes which give you early admission and access to the VIP tent with your own reserved seat and special reserve wines available for tasting. If you decide to go and plan on driving be sure to order a parking pass, since they tend to sell out and without a pass you'll have to take a shuttle bus from town (and I've seen some very long lines of people waiting to get on the busses).

There's usually one final event on Sunday (a golf outing or, most recently, a bike ride), but we've never attended any of those.

We typically end up attending one guest chef lunch, a couple of wine seminars, maybe one wine dinner during the week, and the Grand Tasting, and that makes for a fun few days.

Jan 09, 2015
rcurtism in Southwest

Suggestions for 5 nights in Vegas (around CES)

From the Convention Center the monorail will give you access to a wide range of properties, so you may want to just skim some of the reviews here, see what sounds good, and then see if you can get there from the monorail. Cab lines can be insane at the convention center but are often more manageable at the casinos, so one good strategy might be to take the monorail to dinner when you're done at CES and then catch a cab back to your hotel. It's tough to make specific recommendations given how many choices you have, but the MGM is one obvious option - both Emeril's and L'Atelier are very comfortable solo dining spots (reservation recommended at L'Atelier).

As for the Stratosphere, you have one obvious but very good choice, which is the restaurants at the SLS Casino. A lot has been written here about Bazaar Meat, and Cleo and the Griddle Café have both received some great reviews. My only meal there was at Ku Noodle, which was excellent but you indicated Asian was not your first choice. You could probably eat all your meals at the SLS if you decide you don't want to deal with the monorail!

Dec 29, 2014
rcurtism in Las Vegas

Las Vegas NY Eve - near Mandalay Bay

Also, unless I'm mistaken, you should be able to get to any of the ethnic restaurants in the Spring Mountain Road corridor by using the highway or the surface streets west of the highway, so the closure on the Strip shouldn't preclude any of those options (although it probably won't make things any easier).

Dec 17, 2014
rcurtism in Las Vegas

Las Vegas NY Eve - near Mandalay Bay

Just to echo some previous comments, don't assume that any restaurant will be serving their standard menu on a major holiday like Christmas, NYE, etc. I would call first in all cases, since Vegas restaurants are especially bad at updating their web sites with current info. Within the Mandalay Bay complex Border Grill might be a good choice - it's sort of ethnic, and probably easily doable within the $40-$60/pp range.

Dec 17, 2014
rcurtism in Las Vegas

Scarpetta, Julian Serrano, me out please :)

Scarpetta has at least one very private table for two right by the window overlooking the Bellagio. Wish I could give you a more specific description, but if you're not happy with your table let them know and hopefully they can find something better. We were underwhelmed with our main courses on our first visit (veal chops), so last time we created our own pasta tasting, and that worked much better. The duck and foie gras ravioli and spaghetti with tomato and basil are both excellent, but neither of us particularly cared for the pici with lobster.

I think the best play at Milos is octopus + lavraki + yogurt parfait (the only dessert option now IIRC, but if the walnut cake ever returns that is also an excellent choice).. The other upgrades (crab cake, lobster pasta) haven't been that impressive in our experience.

Dec 17, 2014
rcurtism in Las Vegas

Suggestions for 5 nights in Vegas (around CES)

I'm a 20+ year CES veteran (although not this year, thank god:), and in my experience as a solo diner you should be able to sneak in just about anywhere, especially if you're willing to eat at the bar and/or go at an off hour. I've snagged same day reservations at L'Atelier, and generally was able to walk in to most places with no problems.

As for specific reservations, you'll probably get better responses here if you can narrow things down by location, price, cuisine, etc. Enjoy your trip!

Dec 10, 2014
rcurtism in Las Vegas

Yusho help?

As a New Mexico resident I can relate to your desire for seafood - Las Vegas may not be the coast of Maine, but it's light years better than anything we can get in the Land of Enchantment. RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay doesn't get a lot of love on this board, but it might be a good choice for you, especially if you follow our strategy and stick with items that require minimal prep from the kitchen (oysters, king crab, steamed clams, etc.). It's pricey, although no more so than most of your other seafood options, and we've never had a bad meal in the course of at least half a dozen visits.

Dec 10, 2014
rcurtism in Las Vegas

Santa Fe: Arroyo Vino?

For me Arroyo Vino is one of the two or three top fine dining destinations in Santa Fe at the moment. I may tend to rate it more highly than others because I really enjoy wandering around the adjoining wine shop and selecting a bottle for dinner. They typically apply a modest service charge to the retail price of the wine (I think $20 but you should confirm that), and occasionally have "free corkage" nights with no surcharge.

Based on my memory of meals at Max's the preparations at Arroyo Vino may be a bit more straightforward (IIRC Connell was occasional dabbling in some "molecular lite" techniques at Max's), but between the wine program and a more convivial setting (I always found the atmosphere at Max's to be a little grim) Arroyo Vino may offer a better overall experience.

Aug 12, 2014
rcurtism in Southwest

Georgia Restaurant, Santa Fe: pretty darn good

This is one of those times when I feel like I took a wrong turn somewhere along the way and ended up in a different restaurant than the one everyone else is writing about. Yes, the patio is if anything even more attractive than it was in the O'Keefe Café days, and the bar area does look extremely inviting (especially given the relative lack of spaces like that around Santa Fe).

Unfortunately, for us the food just didn't measure up. The calamari that elicited a "best in town" rave from the New Mexican struck me as only about the third best rendition of that dish I've had in Santa Fe in the last six months (after Santa Café and Andiamo). My halibut main course consisted of an overcooked piece of fish surrounded by undercooked vegetables, with a beurre blanc and some sort of purple puree that eventually merged into a murky tasting, unattractive shade of grey. Neither of my companions had much to say about their racks of lamb, which were well cooked but surrounded by some incongruous accompaniments (big hunks of baby zucchini cut in half?). The best dish of the night for me was probably the chilled tomato soup, but even there the gazpacho garnish was marred by an unnecessary addition of quinoa.

The wine list is decent but a bit unbalanced, with far more good values on the white side, and the lack of vintages is really unacceptable for a restaurant with this level of ambition. I'll definitely give the bar a try at some point, but at least on this night Georgia didn't strike me as measurably superior to Tanti Luce 221, Casa Sena, or any of several other mid/high end establishments around town dishing out safe, marginally well conceived, inconsistently executed grub.

Jul 30, 2014
rcurtism in Southwest

Wine shop with good sherry selection in Albuquerque or Santa Fe?

Sherry is a really tough category in New Mexico. If you're willing to consider mail order The Rare Wine Company in Sonoma is a great source for both Madeira and Sherry. They carry the entire Valdespino portfolio and even featured them in a recent newsletter:

The staff is great and shipping is reasonable at least for case quantities, although it inevitably starts to seem a little steep for smaller orders.

Feb 04, 2014
rcurtism in Southwest

Santa Fe Burger Update

Shake Foundation did have a sign posted that described the sourcing of their beef, but I don't recall the details. I strongly suspect it is from New Mexico and wouldn't be at all surprised if it is grass fed. El Milagro was definitely more of a Sysco type place.

I think the shake program is up and running at Shake Foundation. Next time I will probably just order a straight chocolate shake with Taos Cow ice cream (minus the chocolate chunks) and see how they do with that.

As a side note, Plaza Café Southside claims to serve grass fed beef on their menu and based on recent visits to both places I would rank them a few cuts above Rio Chama (I've only been to Joe's once so really can't comment).

Jan 17, 2014
rcurtism in Southwest

Santa Fe Burger Update

Tried two new places in the past week that I haven't seen discussed here. The first, Shake Foundation, has been doing a brisk business since it opened a few weeks ago near the intersection of Cerrillos and Paseo de Peralta. It's a riff on the Shake Shack concept and apparently the brainchild of Brian Knox, former chef/owner of Aqua Santa. There's no indoor seating, so you can eat in your car or huddle under a heat lamp (it looks like they're set up for extensive outdoor seating in the warmer months).

I had a basic green chile cheeseburger with shoestring fries and a chocolate shake. The burger was on the small side (about 3.5" in diameter, maybe halfway between a slider and a full size burger), with fairly spicy green chile, an obviously hand formed and flavorful patty, and a soft bun with a hint of sweetness (reminiscent of a potato roll). Shoestring fries are not my favorite rendition of fried potatoes, but these were about as good as the genre gets. My biggest disappointment was the milkshake with Todos Santos chocolate - the shake itself didn't seem very chocolaty, and the chunks of dark chocolate at the bottom plugged up the straw and didn't really integrate with the rest of the shake. Overall I came away a bit nonplussed, but I also never really got worked up over the Shake Shack when I was living in NY so this just may not be my thing.

We also stopped by El Milagro, a hole in the wall across from Plaza Café Southside that boasts of serving some of Santa Fe's best burgers, and they did a pretty good job of backing up that claim. Burgers are cooked to order, and they hit our rare and medium rare orders pretty much spot on. Green chile was plentiful and hot, and the onion rings were decent (the fries less so). The buns kind of disintegrated toward the end due to the juiciness of the burgers, but that's kind of a tough thing to complain about. A very pleasant surprise overall.

Since I've been a white knight for Santa Fe Bite in previous posts here, I should also add that I'm having a difficult time getting their burgers cooked to what I consider a proper degree of rareness. At the old location their success rate was better than 9 out of 10. So far at Santa Fe Bite I'm 2 for 5. I'm sure this is just a function of the increased volume and probably somewhat inevitable, but it has lessened the appeal of the place for me.

Enough about burgers, already!

Jan 16, 2014
rcurtism in Southwest

Chef Tasting Menu in/around Santa Fe or ABQ

For better or worse, Santa Fe is not much of a tasting menu town. Most of the higher end restaurants tend to stick to the standard three course a la carte formula. I do think I've seen a tasting menu posted at the host station at Coyote Café as I was passing it on my way upstairs to the Cantina, but their web site appears to be down at the moment so I can't confirm that.

If you're looking for something other than first course/main course/dessert your best bets may be La Boca (a wide selection of tapas and one of the best tables in town regardless of format) and Arroyo Vino (an assortment of small plates with an excellent selection of wine from the adjoining wine shop). You should be able to create a "virtual" tasting menu at either place. Service and atmosphere at both are somewhat casual, so if you're looking for a more formal special occasion ambience they may not fit the bill.

Good luck, and enjoy your visit!

Dec 19, 2013
rcurtism in Southwest

Escape to Sweets Raku from the Strip? & MGM Questions

For your MGM questions - Craftsteak doesn't get a lot of love on this board, but my one meal there was quite enjoyable - great side dishes, not so great value but presumably you're not paying. I notice you didn't mention Emeril's (maybe too adventurous for your boss?) - I know the man himself has become a bit of a caricature, but I've had consistently good experiences there, and if anyone is your party is into wine they have one of the best and more reasonably priced cellars on the Strip.

Nov 06, 2013
rcurtism in Las Vegas

Christmas in Las Vegas

We've spent Christmas in LV twice in the last few years, and on our last visit things seemed quite busy on Christmas day and the next few days after the holiday, with a bit of a lull on the 28th and 29th before it started building up again for New Year's. One thing you may want to be aware of is that some restaurants will have "special" fixed menus on offer on Christmas Eve/Christmas day. We prefer to avoid things like this, since they are often overpriced and offer limited choices. If you have similar preferences, it's not a bad idea to call the restaurant and make sure they will be serving their full menu.

Have fun!

Nov 06, 2013
rcurtism in Las Vegas

Santa Fe Restaurants, Dish by Dish

It's probably the only dish of its kind on any Santa Fe restaurant menu, but for my money the roast lamb burrito at Atrisco deserves classic status. The red chile is brighter and less earthy than La Choza but still intensely flavorful, and the lamb really tastes like lamb (I believe it may be sourced from the excellent Shepherd's Lamb in Tierra Amarilla).

Agree with finlero wholeheartedly on the overall excellence of Plaza Café Southside. If you can force yourself to pass on their superb green chile they also do a textbook rendition of huevos divorciados.

There's a lot to like about the Ranch House but one dish I am particularly fond of is their green chile brisket burrito. It's the only way I know of to get a green chile and brisket fix now that my beloved Hidden Chicken is closed, and when they get the chile right (i.e. hot) it can be a great plate of food.

In the guilty pleasure department I do have a soft spot for the Pantry Burger at the Pantry/Los Amigos - an open faced burger smothered with red chile and cheese served with curly fries. It's kind of a gloppy mess, but sometimes hits the spot.

Oct 21, 2013
rcurtism in Southwest

Cooking class in or around Santa Fe

You could also take a look at Los Poblanos in the Los Ranchos neighborhood of Albuquerque. It's a bit of a drive (although probably less than an hour), and it will give you a view of northern New Mexico that you won't necessarily get around Santa Fe.

Sep 11, 2013
rcurtism in Southwest

Interesting Virgin Cocktails

Since you're staying at Mandalay Bay you may want to investigate Rx Boiler Room, the latest incarnation of Rick Moonen's formal upstairs restaurant. It's a lot more casual and hip than before, and they seem to take their cocktails very seriously. Not sure about the availability of virgin cocktails, but it's probably worth a phone call.

Sep 09, 2013
rcurtism in Las Vegas

Trip Report - Monta, Kabuto, RM Seafood, Cut, and more!

Two New Mexico Chowhounds just back from our latest visit. We stayed a day longer this time so there's even more to report on than usual. Here's the rundown:

Monta - finally made it here, and I'm glad we did. We both had the tonkatsu ramen with one order of extra pork which we split between us, which made for a perfect quantity of meat. This was great stuff, as good as I remember getting at any of the top ramen houses in NYC. Accompanied by a nice but unnecessary order of gyoza. Sweet, efficient service, but there's a good chance you'll have at least a short wait if you arrive at a peak hour.

Kabuto - we've always ordered omakase before, but since we were generally less enamored with the sashimi and cooked items we decided to go for the 10 piece nigiri option with supplements this time. Service was excellent as always, and it was a great meal overall, but we both noticed some consistency issues with the nigiri - the rice to fish ratio was way off on one of my pieces, and another was completely overwhelmed by wasabi. Perhaps not coincidentally, this is the first time we weren't seated at Gen san's station. I still consider this an essential Vegas meal, but in the future I might make an earlier reservation or specifically request to sit with Gen san.

RM Seafood - we finally got around to trying this place on our last visit despite the fact that we almost always stay at theHotel, and were sufficiently impressed to warrant a return visit. Nothing we ordered required any serious skill in the kitchen but between the pristine oysters, amazingly sweet Alaskan king crab, and serviceable steamed clams, this was a decadent and very relaxing lunch (they also have a very nice Edna Valley Albarinho served from keg that pairs perfectly with the food). I don't know that I'd recommend this as a dinner destination, but the flexible menu and relaxed atmosphere make it a perfect lunch spot.

Cut - I am rarely knocked out by restaurant service, simply because it doesn't matter all that much to me compared to the food and wine, but Cut is an exception. Our server was simultaneously crisp, efficient, friendly, and engaging, and overall provided one of the best service experiences I've had outside of a Danny Meyer restaurant. She decanted the bottle of wine we brought expertly and graciously, and was on the spot throughout the entire meal. First courses of bone marrow flan and oxtail boullion were excellent, as were the sides (potato puree and Tuscan beans), but we were both nonplussed by our steaks. My wife's 21 day Illinois bone-in ribeye and my 35 day Nebraska strip were both perfectly cooked but curiously lacking in flavor, and in the case of my strip the problem was exacerbated by the aggressively seared and seasoned crust, which tended to overwhelm the already mild flavor of the beef. I had some reservations about coming here given the emphasis on the more exotic Wagyu/Kobe cuts, and I'm starting to think this may not be the best choice unless you're prepared to make that kind of investment.

Border Grill - we wrote this place off years ago, but since we were hanging out at the Mandalay Bay pool all day it was a practical choice, and I'm glad we gave it another try. The cocktails were so-so but the trio of salsas served with the complimentary chips was outstanding and the fish tacos were reference standard.

Raku - our first time here, and a bit of a rocky experience, but ultimately satisfying. We had some difficult understanding our server, partly due to a speaker directly overhead and partly due to language barriers, and she didn't show much interest in explaining things (she dropped off the blue fin tuna sashimi sampler without identifying the three different cuts and was little to no help with the sake menu). We also experienced an inexplicably long wait between our first two courses. Service aside, the meal had some definite high points, including the aforementioned tuna sashimi, my wife's foie gras custard, and pretty much everything off the grill (especially the beef tenderloin with fresh wasabi and the pork cheek). The only real miss was a pricey, dry, overcooked fried smelt off the specials menu.

Milos - we stopped in here for lunch twice, and between the two visits sampled the meze plate, tomato salad, grilled octopus, smoked salmon, lavraki, lobster pasta, and the Milos special (from the a la carte menu). I've heard some grumblings about declining quality here, but based on these two visits the only evidence I can see to support that is the elimination of the walnut cake dessert option - everything else is as good as ever. I think we will finally bite the bullet and splurge on dinner here next time.

Pinot Brasserie - we selected this place for a small family get together for two reasons - a glowing review from John Curtas at and the fact that they allow BYO with no corkage charge. No real surprises, but the lobster bisque and escargots were very well executed and the steaks were perfectly cooked and served with a very flavorful mushroom/spinach/potato side. The lobster component of my wife's surf and turf seemed a bit skimpy, but aside from that everything was first rate. If you need a conservative and quiet choice for a family or business dinner this could be an excellent pick.

Forte - I will admit that I had to be dragged here, but I'm glad I went along for the ride. Everything was just superb, with special accolades for the Bulgarian mixed grill and the Adjarski Khachapurri (bread boat stuffed with cheeses and a fried egg). I didn't get to sample the borscht or the stroganoff but they both also received rave reviews. Prices are almost ridiculously gentle given the quality.

Valentino - the pasta tasting here blew our minds on our last visit, but it appears they have already begun to wind down operations in anticipation of closing later in the year. The formal dining rooms were closed, so we were seated in the casual grill, no tasting menus were offered, and we were presented with a two page wine list (I assume the larger list may be available, but since we brought our own wines I didn't inquire). All of our pasta courses were outstanding (delicate lasagna, a very bright tasting spinach and tomato cappellacci, and a special of fettucine with scallops, mushrooms, and Australian black truffles). My main course of lamb shanks with mushroom tortellini was excellent, but the osso buco received mixed reviews from my companions. The kitchen is still turning out solid food overall, but don't come here expecting the sort of formal dining experience they delivered in the past.

One editorial note - I've read that the Venetian chose not to renew Valentino's lease because they wanted to bring in something with more of a celebrity chef pedigree to fill the space. It's never been difficult to get a table here even at prime time, and I understand that the market dictates these things, but it's still a little disheartening to think that food of this caliber isn't sufficient to keep an establishment going.

Another superb visit - looking forward to our return in February!

Sep 04, 2013
rcurtism in Las Vegas

The Bite in Santa Fe

Based on our one visit so far (lunchtime on Indian Market weekend, so they were slammed) I saw no indication of service problems or longer than average waits. The service staff has probably quadrupled in size, so you're not going to get as much personal attention from Bonnie and Ashleigh any more, but our server turned out to be a familiar face from Harry's who just moved over to the Bite and did a great job.

People also need to remember that this has never been fast food. I frequently showed up to the old location precisely at opening time and always paid attention to when the first burger came out of the kitchen - it was generally at least 20-25 minutes after the first order was placed. To fyfas' point, some of the negative comments may be coming from newcomers with unrealistic expectations.

FWIW, fyfas, I also share your thoughts on Hidden Chicken. I was semi-regular, always ordered exactly the same thing (Green Chile Brisket Melt), and can't fathom how anyone could possibly have anything negative to say about the service. There is obviously a personality type that revels in publishing vicious comments on the web (sometimes even second hand in nature, with no basis in reality) - we can only hope that most readers have enough sense to sniff those types out and ignore them.

Sep 01, 2013
rcurtism in Southwest

Lunch At Mandalay Bay

RM Seafood is open for lunch, and while it's certainly possible to drop a stack of money there the menu is quite flexible and offers a number of different ordering options, so I think you're $50 price point should be achievable.

Aug 14, 2013
rcurtism in Las Vegas

Nexus Brewery - Finally, Real Soul Food in Albuquerque

What a great recommendation - thank you! I'm a big fan of ABQ brewpubs but for some reason always chose to skip over this place. It will be at the top of my list the next time I'm in town.

Aug 13, 2013
rcurtism in Southwest

Best bar food in Santa Fe.

The bar room at Rio Chama meets just about all of your criteria. I'm not crazy about the restaurant itself, but the bar is actually quite pleasant, and they have one of the better burgers in town now that we've lost Bobcat Bite (at least temporarily).

Santa Fe: Great Wine Lists?

For my money La Casa Sena has by far the best cellar in town, with excellent depth and breadth as well as relatively gentle markups (at least by SF standards). Unfortunately, the kitchen simply doesn't measure up to the standards of the wine program. I would love to eat there more often, since it really is one of those rare wine lists that encourages exploration and discovery, but I just can't get past the shortcomings of the food.

Maybe there's a creative dining strategy that could compensate for this - tapas at Taberna followed by a nice bottle of wine and a token food order at Casa Sena?

One other option to consider is Arroyo Vino - it's a newish wine-centered restaurant with an adjoining wine shop in an upscale residential neighborhood far outside the tourist orbit. I've only been once, but the inventory seemed well chosen and the food was thoughtful and well prepared.

Jul 01, 2013
rcurtism in Southwest

Iconik Coffee Roasters, Santa Fe: finally, the all-around coffeehouse I've been wishing for

As a member of the virtual office brigade I would add two things to finlero's list of criteria - stable wifi and plenty of power outlets. I'm happy to report that Iconik gets high marks in both of these areas. On a recent visit around noon I spotted at least half a dozen laptop jockeys who looked like they were settled in for extended stays.

One minor cautionary note - on my first visit I showed up shortly after 8:00 am and they were just in the process of mixing the batter for the daily batch of scones, so there was essentially nothing to eat except some cookies from the previous day. Arriving early with an appetite may not be the best idea, at least for now.

Jun 11, 2013
rcurtism in Southwest

Bouche Bistro (Santa Fe)

Had an exceptional meal last Friday at this new restaurant helmed by Charles Dale, formerly of Terra at the Encantado resort. It's a tiny, bustling space that seems much lighter and more convivial than it did in its previous incarnation as Aqua Santa, and the food was superb across the board.

First courses included seven-herb ravioli with a (huge) crispy frog leg for me and sauteed foie gras for my wife, both of which were excellent. Main courses were a reference-standard steak frites featuring densely flavored, beefy hanger steak and crispy fries, and the real highlight of the evening, short ribs "pot au feu", a pile of meltingly tender meat in a light broth with brussel sprouts and carrots that managed to be both classic and original at the same time.

One could hope for a few more interesting under $50 selections on the wine list (especially on the red side), but that's my only minor quibble. I always had a sense that Chef Dale's talents were somewhat underutilized at Terra, and Bouche seems to confirm that. This looks to be an exciting and most welcome addition to fine dining in Santa Fe.

Mar 18, 2013
rcurtism in Southwest

My Northern New Mexico Itinerary

Tecolote is an excellent choice, especially for their red chile. This is one of those places that is think is underappreciated by locals due to the Diners/Drive-ins/Dives connection and the fact that it can be somewhat overrun by tourists.

You may already know that La Choza offers essentially the same menu as the Shed - it's good, but it won't be a noticeably different experience from your meal at the Shed (other than the atmosphere).

I would skip Tomasita's and Tia Sophia's and consider Atrisco Cafe and the Plaza Cafe (either location) as alternatives (the green chile at the Plaza Cafe can be exceptionally good). Enjoy your visit.

Mar 18, 2013
rcurtism in Southwest