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The New Mexican's Weekly Magazine of Arts, Entertainment & Culture Thursday, July 24, 2014

Restaurant Review — Plaza sweet: La Plazuela at La Fonda

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Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014 5:00 am

Entering La Plazuela at La Fonda is like leaving a lantern-lit cavern and emerging into the sunshine. The ceiling soars toward the skylight two stories above. A stone pool containing a burbling fountain is flanked on two sides by the twisting trunks of towering potted ficus trees draped with tiny white lights. The room is separated from the surrounding corridors by divided-light windows, the frames colorfully painted with chiles, sunflowers, birds on the wing, perched owls, butterflies, and other whimsical designs. The wooden tables that surround the fountain are solid, the Mission-style chairs padded and comfortable. Even at nighttime the effect is spacious and grand. One of the city’s most intriguing dining rooms, it’s an atmospheric place to bring visiting friends and family or to go if you need a reminder of our city’s decorative traditions.

The menu is also well suited for out-of-towners, though it doesn’t specifically cater to them. Executive chef Lane Warner — can it be true that’s he’s been with La Fonda for 20 years? — offers a range of traditional dishes, such as rolled enchiladas and New Mexico lamb chops, along with seafood, ambitious vegetarian entrees (a grilled cauliflower “steak” with sautéed leeks and shiitakes), and an unexpected chickpea and goji berry salad with Mandarin orange slices and an apple-cider vinaigrette. The wine list is serious and includes bottles from New Mexico. Both your steak-loving uncle and your vegetarian cousin will be happy.

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