Santa Fe Restaurant Week, Friday, Feb. 22, through March 3, presents a once-a-year opportunity to sample the City Different’s most exquisite — and expensive — fine dining at mid-range prices. Take a walk down Canyon Road and revel in the good food and storied history of these dinner picks.
Pencil in a date at The Compound (653 Canyon Road, 505-982-4353), the elegant 1960s stronghold designed by Alexander Girard. Mark Kiffin, named Best Chef in the Southwest by the James Beard Foundation in 2005, has devised a three-course menu that presents some hard choices. Will you begin with black mussels with chorizo and sourdough, or wild mushroom, Parmesan, and spicy field cress polenta? Beef-cheek Bolognese or a vegetarian-friendly winter veggie risotto? Shrimp and grits, or the beloved chicken schnitzel? Save room for salted caramel budino, chocolate torte, or lemon vanilla meringue with blueberry sorbet and lemon curd. Tip your hat to the host on the way out like a nouveau-riche Canyon Road artist would have, back in the day — and remember that you just scored a world-class meal at one of Santa Fe’s toniest joints for $45 a person.
Dig deeper into Canyon Road history at what may be the city’s oldest bar, El Farol (808 Canyon Road, 505-983-1192). At 5 p.m. every night of Restaurant Week, chef Shane Alexander presents “Tapas and Tequila: The History of El Farol” ($20), detailing the tavern’s story from its incarnation as Claude’s Bar in the 1920s to the purveyor of fine Spanish food and flamenco it is today. Tequila samples are available, along with some representative tapas. If you’re in the mood for dinner without the history lesson ($35 per person), feast on lanza de carne beef skewers or flash-fried avocado before going all out on Angus medallions or vegetable paella. Finish up with crema catalana or the classic churros y chocolate. Those might get you stomping your boots on the old wooden dance floor, especially at the Flamenco Dinner Show ($25, Feb. 23, March 1 and 2).
Finally, see what makes the city different at Geronimo (724 Canyon Road, 505-982-1500), the 27-year-old bastion of culinary innovation housed in a 1756 adobe. Executive chef Selin Cruz steers a seasonal menu with a strong Asian influence. First-course salads include a wasabi Caesar and a Fujisaki pear salad with grilled Bleu d’Auvergne cheese. Sea bass is served with ramen noodles, bok choy, and lobster miso, while grilled chile-and-honey prawns soak up a yuzu basil aioli. Head back West at the meal’s end with flourless German chocolate cake topped with smoked sea-salt caramel, completing your $45-a-person tour of what Geronimo calls its “global eclectic” flavors.
For information, go to santafe.nmrestaurantweek.com.