I was so bowled over by the exquisite presentation, attentive service, complex flavor profiles and striking cocktails that I’m honor-bound to return.
Santa Fe’s Seasonal Soulmate: Radish & Rye
BY ABBY FELDMAN
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past eight months, you’ve probably heard the buzz about Santa Fe’s new farm-inspired gem Radish & Rye. This bluegrass- and bourbon-themed restaurant and bar offers a dining experience that sates discerning diners’ refined palates while retaining a relaxed feel.
On my first visit, I was so bowled over by the exquisite presentation, attentive service, complex flavor profiles and striking cocktails that I’m honor-bound to return. Wanting to sample everything Radish & Rye has on offer, I invited three friends to join me for this exploratory meal. Dining with others affords one the privilege of enjoying more than a single diner or even a couple could accommodate.
As we entered, a glass window – on the floor! – revealed a view of ancient-looking stairs descending into a cellar. Our server, Chris, explained this area is used to store chocolates and a wide selection of half-bottles; Radish & Rye prefers to serve these to give guests an opportunity to try more varieties of vino.
Our corner table was tucked into a back room. While a mite noisy, the surrounding volume level still allowed for normal conversational tones and a trickle of the Mumford & Sons-esque soundtrack.
The cocktail, dessert and wine menus are crafted of leather and natural grain wood, proffering a highbrow rural feel. The food menus for this season are printed on antiqued card stock, and out-of-season menus were used in creative ways, namely as coasters and envelopes for patrons’ bills.
Once seated, we excitedly began with in-house mixologist Quinn M. Stephenson’s carefully curated cocktails. Most are made with a deeply intoxicating, hand-selected 90 proof Buffalo Trace Bourbon. I’ve never had anything like the Abuelito. A mixture of bourbon, carpano vermouth and bitters was garnished with a deep-black cherry on a skewer, a giant ice cube and a whiff of sweet tobacco. You might picture a distinguished gentleman with an elegant pipe puffing smoke into glasses assembly line-style, but Chris assured us that a combustion “gun” injects just the right amount of hygienically acquired smoke before serving.
The Blood Orange Old Fashioned was sweet and tart with a brown sugar note resulting from a caramelized orange slice. A companion savored two while eyeballing the rest of the compelling selection. An amuse-bouche of duck fat-infused sweet and sour popcorn accompanied the cocktails. With a surprising flavor profile not unlike corn and duck-flavored sour candy, the popcorn really wakes up the taste buds and cuts the sweetness of the cocktails.
Delighting in the tapas-style dining, we began our meal with the radicchio salad with sharp, creamy anchovy dressing, croutons and toasted piñon. This creative take on a classic Caesar salad was enhanced by the seeds’ nuttiness and the use of the hearty, slightly bitter radicchio as opposed to watery, flavorless romaine.
The salad was quickly followed by the Steak Tartare, which was seasoned to perfection with salt, red chile and an ample spark of black pepper. Since the diced steak was quite lean, the addition of a fatty quail egg yolk and lime oil provided divine counterbalance. We quickly devoured this dish, soundtracked by a growing cacophony of positive exclamations.
We tried five additional small plates and sampled two larger plates. The standout was the Foraged Mushroom Chowder, made with local wild mushrooms, cubes of soft, smooth potato, slices of Serrano chile, saffron threads and the pièce de résistance: an exquisitely smoked marrow bone.
The buttery, fire-roasted marrow accentuated this spicy chowder impeccably. Our attentive, knowledgeable server explained that seasonal menu changes often substitute ingredients rather than entire dishes or flavor profiles. In the summer, this same chowder is made with corn instead of mushrooms.
For dessert, we ordered the Chocolate Pots de Crème, which are composed of light Chimayo chocolate pudding, a heavenly Chantilly cream and chocolate “dirt” reminiscent of Oreo cookie crumbs. The Pots de Crème were a hit with the entirety of the table; this dish indisputably satisfied my extreme fondness for chocolate, and I would personally return just for this confection.
The best part of this foodie’s meal came when I inquired whether Executive Chef David Gaspar de Alba was in the kitchen today. Our server assured me that he’s present for nearly every service, as are owners Camille Brenner and Dru Ruebush. Radish & Rye seems genuinely dedicated to bringing together the best possible ingredients and flavors for the benefit of Santa Fe diners.
From décor, to the food, to the ambiance, this restaurant shines. Mark Radish & Rye down as a can’t-miss on your next getaway to The City Different.
World traveler, devoted foodie and all-around bon vivant Abby Feldman reports on her culinary excursions for ABQ Free Press.
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