Hi 'Hounds - Here is a brief trip report from two weekends ago, Friday thru Monday, offered with candor and conviction:
Taos - Took advice on this site and visited Orlando's - a very charming spot, to be sure, but I was with a party of five and not one plate was worth recommending - not one. The service was friendly, the wait staff attractive, and the place was full - beyond that I have to say it was just decent fill at a fair price. Maybe they had an off day, but this was a disappointment - next post recommending Orlando's really should explain why it is so outstanding - not just because it is cute and the garden seating area and the waitresses are pretty. 'Nuff said about this joint.
Santa Fe 1 - Mother's Day weekend and Saturday night at the Compound - along with half of the well-heeled senior citizens in town. I praise this restaurant in the exact same way I condemned the last: the food is not excellent but it is competent and beautifully and professionally presented. The setting after all these years is still tops - it reminds me of Michael's in Santa Monica. But this is not a "foodie" experience, if you understand my meaning. Everything was gorgeous on the plate: the fresh pea soup, fresh morel mushrooms, osso bucco - all looked like they were ready for the cover of Food & Wine magazine. But the taste? Eh. The only place I've had food that looked this good but tasted so average is in London (where, I swear, every dish seems to go through a flavor scrambler to through off us Yanks). This is a restaurant where the atmosphere and service and presentation outshines the food - and that may be due to their clientelle - I was the youngest diner except for an attractive couple in their twenties who looked like they had gotten on the wrong cruise ("this is Cabo, right? Not 'Whale Watching in Alaska'?"). All this sounds like damning with faint praise - but I promise you that Compound is a very nice evening and they know their stuff: the menu and the wine list are great, the food is way above average if under salted (due to the average age of the patrons? I don't mind and don't think there is anything wrong with this - just saying), the room is cheery, modern, clean without being cold, and the staff is on their toes. I heartily recommend the Compound as a wonderful place to take "Mother" and her friends. I will be back when the need presents and will be looking forward to it. Santa Fe is very lucky to have such a restaurant!
Santa Fe 2 - Bobcat Bite! THE BEST CHILE BURGER IN THE WORLD. Somebody take a swing here, I dare ya: this place is a "category killer" like White House Subs in Atlantic City - it's just the best and there's nothing anybody can do about it. :-)
Santa Fe 3 - Just a quick note about the Spanish Kitchen, the Spanish imports gourmet shop in town around the corner from Hotel Eldorado that also has branches here in California - what a treat! I spent the better part of an hour in their cookbook section (and brought home the wonderfully revised Penelope Casas "Tapas" book). If you are in town definitely pop in - the selection of imported foods, cookware, and foodie gifties is impressive and the staff is really nice!
ABQ - Duke City never disappoints ME! (But I think a lot of people, even those who love it and those who live there are groaning reading this statement!) I stock up on the good stuff when I'm there (read other posts on shopping and bringing home a loaded cooler), and I get to have my Mary & Tito's fix - this time I got the treat of chatting to Mary herself - the Southwest's own Julia Child - a nice treat and I picked up a few great cooking tips. Only time for this one meal out - rest of the time we were cooking up a storm with BBQ'd quail from Kellers, fresh tortillas and carne adovado and eggs, and plenty of margaritas, guacamole and chips around the pool.
All in all a great weekend - I highly recommend the drive to Taos and the pueblo, the Harwood Museum (and their new Hopper show), Santa Fe shopping (and the music and barmaids at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame), and R & R in Albuquerque (the course at Tanoan is beautiful - even if my game isn't). Off to Seattle tomorrow and may stay the weekend there - never been so . . . time to check out that board! See ya round!