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Recent Santa Fe eats: 2 wins (Bodega Prime and Thai night at Sweetwater) and 2 stumbles (Izanami and Radish & Rye)

finlero | Sep 17, 201603:58 PM

Wanted to post about a few recent restaurant experiences around Santa Fe.

Let's start with the two wins:

Bodega Prime - this is the counter service lunchtime spot I've been waiting for. Modern, thoughtful, often downright inspired salads and sandwiches (as well as baked goods, canned goods, etc.) made with terrific ingredients. The crew here are busting their butts to make everything as well as they possibly can, and it shows. And as good as it is now, all signs point to it continuing to evolve quickly and for the better, and by this time next year I think it could easily be one of the best restaurants in the state, by any measure.

Thai night at Sweetwater Harvest - been meaning to try this for a while and finally swung by. Best Thai restaurant in Santa Fe is faint praise, to be sure (and besides it's really Cambodian), but the food really is solid, with fresh ingredients including great veggies and nice curry mixes. Everything was boldly flavorful and didn't taste too unhealthy. NB it's pricey for what it is, with most entrees getting awfully close to the $20 mark. Not my favorite food ever, but one of the only legit choices in town for respectable East Asian food.

And stumbles from two of my standing faves:

Izanami - although the standard a la carte izakaya menu still appears intact, we've done two omakase dinners here in as many months and they were both filled with weird hypo-tasty missteps. While I'm not a curmudgeonly purist, there were a lot of oddly European accents in the dishes (French, butter-heavy preparations of fish, goat cheese in a few dishes, etc.), and over and over, dishes were astonishingly difficult to eat with chopsticks, coming off as a composed European-style entree, but served on a plate for two to share. Additionally the sake "pairings" were just a pre-fab flight that had nothing to do with the dishes. I'd shrug it off if I hadn't been so impressed with the omakase meals here in the past, which had been a showcase for some of the flagship izakaya dishes on and off menu. I have every intention of going back, but I'll be sticking to a la carte; the omakase has lost my trust for now.

Radish & Rye - their hotshot chef David Gaspar de Alba who, as far as I can tell, was the major force behind making R&R such a fantastic upstart, has left to work at Silver Leaf Farm down in Corrales (I don't know the story here). Our first post-de Alba meal here still had a lot of the same elements that were in play from the get-go (lots of local produce and meat, prepared in a relatively laissez faire way), but there was a sharpness missing, with each dish feeling just a little more blunt and pedestrian. On the plus side the bourbon-heavy cocktail program is still excellent, especially by NM standards, but it's hard to get too excited with the food being a couple of steps down. Hopefully just a transitional thing, crossing my fingers they'll find a new groove.

Bodega Prime,
Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen,
Radish & Rye
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