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

finlero | Dec 11, 201403:53 PM    

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.

Dr. Field Goods Kitchen
Loyal Hound
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