There are a few threads about higher-end dining in Santa Fe with local flavor, but they seem to be missing discussions about Aqua Santa. We tried this for our splurge dinner earlier this week, and it was a delight from first bite to last.
I loved my entree choice of the local Shepherd's lamb slow cooked with molé and greens. For an appetizer I had the pan-fried oysters. They had a cornmeal / sea salt batter that complemented but didn't overwhelm the oysters, especially when combined with a few drops of lemon, and the pan fry job was superb. Other folks at the table got the quail and scallops entrees and the calamari salad and carrot soup appetizers and every dish was a hit. We split a vegetable side dish with more greens (this time with a chilé kick), green beans, and beets. I'm not a beet fan so I left that to others, but the beans were exceptional and the chilé-spiked greens very fine.
For desserts we split the blueberry gelée and the apricot/rhubarb crisp, and there were two more winners. The gelée itself had a blueberry taste on its own which made a great backdrop to the berries. The apricot / rhubarb crisp was a stellar rendition.
The wine list is well chosen but had very high markups. We had a bottle of Gary Farrell Pinot Noir that went great with our dishes and seemed a little less marked up than some of the other choices. There were only two dessert wine choices, a Moscato and an LBV Port, but it was a good Italian Moscato.
Nothing may quite capture the Southwester high end thrill of Coyote Cafe in its early days. We had a fabulous dinner there on our first visit to Santa Fe in 1987 when nobody was doing cooking like that.
At least in summertime, Aqua Santa offers some nice local sourcing of meats and produce. More importantly, the cooking is both top-notch and has a distinctive regional and individual personality to it.
This definitely holds its own with restaurants of similar style and pricing at home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Entrees were generally in the high-twenties price range, appetizers in the low teens. Highly recommended!
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