DiGregory's Freight House new concept inhabits the old 7,500-square-foot Flying Star building in Bernalillo
BY ARIANE JAROCKI
My neighborhood Range Café waitress tipped me off about Freight House’s opening in Bernalillo. Foodie obsessive that I am, I refreshed The Range’s Facebook page for announcements, and the anticipation built. Finally, it was opening day.
Matt DiGregory, the mastermind behind iconic local restaurants The Range Café and Standard Diner, has done it again. DiGregory’s Freight House new concept inhabits the old 7,500-square-foot Flying Star building in Bernalillo. Freight House has a modern, industrial feel yet maintains an air of warmth and intimacy with a roaring fireplace, oversized booths and cozy taproom seating.
The old Flying Star order counter has been transformed into a mirrored bar, and standing tables outfitted with wooden renditions of classic games – think chess and checkers. Wander past the bar, and you’ll find generous seating throughout.
Don’t dismiss Freight House simply for its distance from the city center. It’s worth every minute of the half-hour drive from Albuquerque. Make the trek for their expansive selection of local craft beer and haute, made-from-scratch noms.
After a pleasant drive, I was in the mood for a leisurely meal. The crackling fireplace oozed ambiance as I mulled over the drink list and appetizer menu.
Uncommon options on the drink menu are cold-brew creations that play on classic cocktail recipes. Fueled by Villa Myriam’s Nitro cold-brew, the Coffee Old-Fashioned tempted, but I settled on the lighter flavors of the Freight Hopper.
The namesake Freight Hopper mixes La Cumbre IPA with pineapple shrub, Rhumbero rum and orgeat syrup. The sweet notes in this concoction balance out the bitter IPA tang and highlight sour grapefruit notes. If such mixers are outside your comfort zone, the tap list is constantly evolving but always offers 24 local beers and a flight option.
The Freight Hopper paired beautifully with my appetizer, the Warm BBQ Chips. When the app arrived, I was in awe of the presentation. When unassuming chips and dip are plated this well, it’s a labor of love.
But appearance isn’t everything, and the flavor profile inspired similar awe. Expertly fried, smoky and slightly sweet BBQ crisps were accompanied by a silken blue cheese mousse. The cheese’s pungency coalesces with a tangy, sour cream-like base.
Like it hot? I recommend The Firebox. Freight House brings the heat with this burger. My interest was piqued by the idea of a pork belly-and-brisket blended burger, but visions of red chile kimchi and jalapeno aioli sealed the deal. It showed up speared with a knife, taunting me to take a mountain of meat and spice by strategy. Fried jalapeno rings and ghost pepper-cheese raise the temperature further.
No amount of squishing made The Firebox burger vulnerable to a two-handed pick-up attack. Trust me when I say the fork-and-knife attack is less about accepting defeat than it is about getting this burger into your mouth. It’s all about the seamless patty, kimchi’s vinegar-and-veggie pop and the ghost pepper and aioli duet.
The fries here are hand-cut, double-battered perfection served with homemade ketchup. If you’re worried about spitting flames, try the coleslaw as a side.
Not into breathing fire? Go for the Beer Battered Fish + Chips. Two large pieces of golden whitefish goodness accompany a heaping helping of fries and FR8 slaw. Dipped in roasted, sweet red pepper remoulade or traditional tartar sauce, the fish was moist, flaky and buttery inside its batter crust. A sriracha cocktail sauce breaks up the fried-on-fried color palette.
Freight House also offers superlative vegetarian offerings. Try the Grilled Panela Cheese + Crispy Cauliflower Tacos topped with pickled onions, FR8 slaw and salsa verde. If a more substantial meal is in order, you can’t go wrong with the Maple Roasted Butternut Squash with Creamy Grits or the Mac N’ Cheese Relleno.
Resident foodie Ariane Jarocki fearlessly explores and reports on Albuquerque’s restaurant, food truck and bakery scenes for ABQ Free Press.
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