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The New Mexican's Weekly Magazine of Arts, Entertainment & Culture Friday, July 25, 2014

Restaurant Review — Night and day: Burro Alley Café

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Posted: Friday, July 4, 2014 5:00 am | Updated: 12:02 pm, Wed Jul 23, 2014.

The Burro Alley Café seems to have everything going for it: location, a wonderful patio, a certain Franco-New Mexico feel that our other fine patisseries don’t quite manage. But it can be a frustrating place. The difference between decent and disappointing here is the difference between night and day. You can have a pleasant late lunch on the large patio — quiche or crepes with red potatoes and a small salad, finishing off with some exquisite almond cookies. Then you show up on a Friday evening with friends and savor some exceptional and expensive cocktails followed by a hit-and-miss, expensive dinner that starts with extra-chewy escargot. Since the place expanded next door and added a lounge, it’s become a puzzle whose pieces don’t come together. A space along Burro Alley was once home to the Paris Bakery, and what fills Burro’s pastry case, we’re told, comes from the Paris’ original recipes. 

The Burro’s French leanings are evident beyond the pastry case. Breakfasts are available through the lunch hours. Omelets, quiches, and crepes — sweet crepes for breakfast and savory crepes with creamed chicken for lunch — are served alongside enchiladas and a breakfast burrito. A slice of quiche Lorraine with its chopped ham set in a rich custard wasn’t big enough to satisfy me. Crepes rolled around fine ratatouille — the vegetables not overcooked or soggy — were sufficiently eggy but a bit overdone. These dishes came with firm, cubed, rosemary-laced red potatoes and a simple salad sporting radicchio leaves and a dark balsamic dressing. There’s a green-chile cheeseburger and also a good but overpriced croque monsieur — thinly battered and done perfectly, the melted cheese and ham inside accenting its warm, moist texture. The best morning selections come from the pastry case. The croissants are buttery and puffy in the American way. The tarts are perfectly formed, their crusts in need of just a touch more butter for texture and give. The raspberry filling in ours was gently sweetened, the fruit’s flavor dominant. An apricot pastry was a marvel of flakiness and taste. But possibly the best things from the case are the cookies. If you can get the Mexican wedding cookies and flat almond cookies on the day they come from the oven, you’ll have a treat worth lingering over. Too bad the coffee isn’t stellar to match.

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