M’Tucci’s Moderno Italian Restaurant

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Another jewel in the M’Tucci’s diadem

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Latest visit: March 25, 2017
First visit: January 26, 2017 

Best Newcomer: 2017

Best Newcomer: 2017

M’Tucci’s Moderno Italian Restaurant is the fourth jewel  in the crown of the M’Tucci’s empire. The owners, Jeff Spiegel and Katie Gardner, know how to put together a crowd pleaser. Inventive food and exemplary service are the rule in their places. Moderno is on my Best Rio Rancho Restaurants List, my ABQ Top Ten List, and I have bestowed on it my coveted Best Newcomer of 2017 Award even though the year is not yet one-quarter finished. That’s how good it is.

The Dazzler  and I were bedazzled by the food served at a soft opening of M’Tucci’s newest location in Rio Rancho two days before their grand opening.  Excellent food, ambience, and service all around. This is destined to become my newest favorite.
Moderno had its full public opening on Friday, January 27. Go there. Here is a few words about some of the dishes on our first visit:

Charcuterie

Charcuterie

Charcuterie Board 

Sopressata Salami, Morbier Cheese, Homemade Rosemary Mustard, Olive Oil, Sea Salt, Market Bread

Easily among the best I have tasted.

 

Spinach Fonduta

Spinach Fonduta

Spinach Fonduta

Spinach, Garlic, Heart of Palm, Four Cheeses, Toasted

Looks like an ordinary boring cocktail; party dip with pita wedges. Looks  are deceiving.  Full rich and tasty mixture will have you begging for more.

 

Pan-Seared Salmon

Pan-Seared Salmon

Pan-Seared Salmo

Seared Fresh Atlantic Salmon, Roasted Artichoke, Sautéed Arugula, Mashed Potatos, Fried Capers, Lemon Butter Sauce, Smoked Prosciutto Powder. (Deanell substitutes polenta for the mashed potatos).

All the M’Tucci’s venues do salmon insanely well. Moderno is no exception.

Gnudi

Gnudi

Gnudi 

Fresh Handmade House Ricotta Dumplings, Preserved Lemon, Olive Oil, Sautéed Spinach, Caramelized Onion, Pecorino, Bread Crumbs.

Surely you have had Gnocchi before. Gnudi is a relative, but made with ricotta instead of potatos. This is a real taste treat, and has become a new favorite.

Port Wine Bread Pudding

Port Wine Bread Pudding

Brioche Bread Pudding 

Port Wine Cherries, Chocolate Ganache, Whipped Mascarpone.
If this dessert gets to the regular menu,it will earn a place near the top of my Hall of Fame Bread Pudding List.


Three days after our first visit I returned and was treated to a house full of delighted patrons. This is without any advertising. Word of a good thing spreads quickly.
It is now my newest favorite, and the Bread Pudding will appear near the top of my Best Bread Pudding List. More dishes:

 

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

Wild Mushrooms, Cream, Brandy, Roasted Portabella

This is not the cream of mushroom soup that you threw some chicken and rice into and baked in a casserole when you were a graduate student. It IS one of the very best soups I have ever had. Rich and smooth with a hauntingly earthy taste, it will have you crying for more.

 

Calamari

Calamari

Calamari with Garlic Aioli. 

Arugula Salad

Arugula Salad

Arugula Salad 

Roasted Red Peppers, Hearts of Palm, Goat Cheese, Arugula, Sweet Potato Hay, and a Balsamic Vinaigrette

Lightly dressed with a very tasty vinaigrette. The dressing does not mask the slightly peppery taste of the arugula.

 

Duroc Pork Chop

Duroc Pork Chop

Duroc Pork Chop

House Cut 12oz Porterhouse, Artichoke-Parmesan Crust, Rosemary Mustard Butter Sauce, Grilled Garlic Polenta, Sautéed Baby Spinach.

Whether you grill, broil or bake these chops, they are known as the juiciest and most flavorful chops. Duroc pork chops are the equivalent of a bone in rib steak. They’re also 100% antibiotic and hormone free. Individually packaged & flash frozen to lock in freshness and flavor.
The exact origin of the Duroc breed is unknown. A number of red pig strains developed around 1800 in the United States in areas such as New York and New Jersey. The modern Duroc originated from crosses of the Jersey Red of New Jersey and the Duroc of New York.

John Haas performs his usual magic on them.

Brioche Bread Pudding

Brioche Bread Pudding

Brioche Bread Pudding 

Port Wine Cherries, Chocolate Ganache, Rich Vanilla Gelato. Superb.

Same dish as we had at the soft opening, but with a different presentation.

 

Pork Cheek Pappardelle

Pork Cheek Pappardelle

Pork Cheeks on Pappardelle

This dish is not on the menu, but it should be. The cheeks may be the tastiest part of the pig. Slow cooked and served with an excellent pappardelle.

This dish appears on my Best Dishes of 2017. A new favorite.

From the bar.

Austin Leard behind the bar is every bit as much a magician as is John Haas in the kitchen. I love Rye Manhattans, and Austin will prepare a flight of three made from different very good ryes. His shrubs are unbelievably good, too.

Rye Manhattans

Rye Manhattans

 


What others are saying

Gil Garduño—New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite

“Habitues of the M’Tucci restaurant family will recognize the influence of Chefs Haas, Gray and Cronin on the menu at M’Tucci’s Moderno, a menu which mostly resembles that of the flagship albeit with more steaks and chops than its brethren.  In some ways, Moderno combines the best of its predecessors, offering for example, the charcuterie boards and market bread from the Market & Pizzeria as well as some familiar entrees heretofore available only at the mothership.  The menu is a delight to peruse.  Segmented into sections–antipasti, insalata & zuppa, pasta, secondi, artisan pizza/lavosh flatbread and contini–makes it easy to navigate though you might have a hard time deciding what to order.

 of Wild Mushroom<br>[Gi;]

of Wild Mushroom
[Gil]

“We also found every nuanced morsel absolutely delicious.  On a blustery February day, the cream of wild mushroom soup especially hit the spot.  Constructed from wild mushrooms, Shiitake, Cremini, Portabella, heavy cream, brandy and olive oil, it’s got the comforting, soul-warming properties of all great soups.  It’s a soup that penetrates deep into your taste buds and thoroughly satisfies your palate and belly.  It’s the type of soup this multi-time judge would love to see at the Roadrunner Food Bank‘s annual Souper Bowl next January (hint, hint).”

Pat Zimmernam—Yelp Elite 2017

Calamari

Calamari

“From beginning to end, everything was delightful including the exceptional service.  My server was so knowledgeable about the menu, advising me of the portions and ingredients.  I went for the calamari with garlic aioli and a margarita.  Great choice!  Their attention to detail was apparent with surprising touches, like the slice of cucumber in the water, very refreshing.  The calamari was battered with a crispy coating that was light and non-greasy.  It was tender, delicious and cooked perfectly.  With the garlic aioli, the flavor was over the top!

“If the excellence of the calamari portends what’s to come, we’re in for delectable bounty from experienced, thoughtful food experts who dedicate themselves to providing the finest produce for your pleasure and enjoyment.  This is a dinning experience that will create a wonderful memory for you and you’ll return again and again to be pampered and appreciated.”

Pan


M’Tucci’s Moderno 

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M’Tucci’s Italian

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One of the best Italian restaurants in New Mexico

Panorama

Twenty-second Visit: November 13, 2016 
First Visit: February 19, 2015 


And the winner is.

And the winner is.

There are many Italian restaurants in The Duke City, but few can touch M’Tucci’s  Italian for brilliance. This is the flagship of the M’Tucci’s empire, which consists of an Italian Market and Dali (I’ve eaten there 46 times so far), a Cocina/Grill at the NHCC, and a catering business.

This is not a red-sauce-pasta house, and it is not a Northern Italian (Piedmont) place. It is a modern American Italian place, and as such, it excels at presenting the unusual but amazing dishes you won’t find anywhere else. The owners, Katie Gardner and Jeff Spiegel  (he’s the one in the Hawaiian shirt), and the highly talented chef and GM, John Haas, have created an institution that is unique.  And I love it. It has earned a place on my coveted Top Ten List.

Brunch and Lunch

Sunday brunch is not to be missed. Most restaurants servr Eggs Benedict, but none like this.

eggs Benedict eggplant

eggs Benedict eggplant

Eggs Benedict 

This excellent verso of Eggs Benedict does not sit on an English muffin. Rather, it sits on a lightly breaded slice of eggplant that has been gently fried to a tender crispiness while the interior is soft and runny like melted cheese. The egg yolks are perfectly runny. Good home fries with gently caramelized onions complete this dish.

This dish appears on my Best Dishes of 2016 List.

Tuna Tacos

Tuna Tacos

Blackened Tuna Tacos

My friend Jack Reynolds had these and was quite pleased. The side salad was nicely dressed with a tasty vinaigrette.

Pork Belly Tacos

Pork Belly Tacos

Pork Belly Tacos

Crispy Duroc Pork Belly, Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette, Green Apple, Pickled Red Onion, Local Feta

I am a pork belly freak. These were among the best I have ever had. Lovely blend of ingredients. I want these again.

Dinners and Extras

Here is where John Haas really shines. Listen carefully as your server rates the daily specials. I rarely order from the menu. The specials are amazing.

Espresso Martini

Espresso Martini

Chocolate Martini

Chocolate Martini

The wine list has most anything you might want. The bartender creates very fine (and sometimes unusual) drinks. Try the Chocolate Martini and the Espresso Martini. Ask your server about the Shrubs. These sweet martinis are fabulous. Google the recipes.

Both surprised me, and I will continue to order them from time to time. I an a Bombay Sapphire extra dry with a twist guy.

Pappardelle and Salciccia

Pappardelle and Salsiccia

salsiccia

Pappardelle con Salsiccia  

Pappardelle, house-made sausage, kale, and a white wine-chicken stock sauce, and lemon zest.

This great dish is no longer on the menu, bi John will make it for me anytime.

The sausage is available at M’Tucci’s Market and Deli. I make this at home for guests visiting Casa de la Vieja Escuela Mariscos. Chicken stock, white wine, and lemon zest (adds brightness).

Grilled Salmon

Grilled Salmon

Grilled Salmon 

Wild Salmon, Grilled Asparagus, and Creamy Grilled Polenta

Perfectly grilled salmon with tender asparagus and a cake of grilled polenta. The polenta is slightly crispy on the outside, and the inside is soft and creamy. Never dry.

This dish has become a favorite of several of my gastronome friends. Rightfully so.

Hanger Steak

Hanger Steak

Hanger Steak

Herb Marinated, Grilled Asparagus, Mashed Potatoes, Balsamic Reduction, Grilled Lemon

Perfectly grilled medium rare. Tasty and tender. The asparagus is always amazing here. Tender and never stringy. This also is a favorite of several of my friends, including Dazzling Deanell’s brother Darren.

Risotto

Risotto

RISOTTO CARNAROLI DE PESCE  with  

This is a beautifully prepared risotto. The fresh mussels are tender, juicy, and tasty. The texture of the rice could no be better. This dish kept my friend Pam from talking (nearly impossible). She finally came up for air when the dish ws nearly gone.  It’s that good.

Pork Shank

Pork Shank

Pork Shank 

Braised pork shank in a creamy sauce with sauteed greens

Whenever I can, I order Lamb Shanks in Italian and Greek restaurants. This was my first try at pork shanks. Delicious. Perfect appearance, taste, and texture. Slow cooked to the almost-falling-off-the-bone doneness, they are a big hit with me.

I had this dish two times in a row. Not on the current menu (they were a special), ask for them in advance. Get lucky.

Desserts and Fun Stuff

Chocolate Mousse 

Linda's Birthday

Linda’s Birthday Mousse
The sparklers are free

 

 

Fried Twinkie

Birthday Twinkie

Darren’s Birthday Fried Twinkie
Sounds disgusting, but it’s not.
At least, that’s what Darren says

 

M'Tucci's Panorama

What others are saying

Gil GarduñoNew Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite

Jeff Spiegel & Katie Gardner

Jeff Spiegel & Katie Gardner
Owners and Operators

“Katie Gardner and her husband Jeff Spiegel moved to Albuquerque, his hometown, in 2007. Eventually they started to miss the hustle and bustle of the restaurant business and launched M’Tucci’s Kitchina in July, 2013. The “M’Tucci” in the restaurant’s name is in honor of Richard Matteucci, a friend of Jeff’s. A framed black-and-white photo of Jeff, Richard and an unidentified frolicker celebrating a (very) good time hangs among the bric-a-brac. You’ve got to love an owner who shares in his fun.

John Haas

John Haas Chief Magician

“The visionary behind the menu is John Hass, executive chef and member of the restaurant’s ownership triumvirate. John’s interpretation of traditional foods often involves their deconstruction, refining and reinvention. You’ll still recognize the traditional dishes with which you’ve grown up, but they might not be exactly as you  John is already so highly regarded that he was named “best chef” runner up in the Alibi‘s Best of Burque Restaurants 2013.  Traditional items he prepares might not be exactly as you may remember them. They’ll be better! The ricotta stuffed cannelloni dish, for example includes both marinara sauce and New Mexico red chile which is why it’s sub-titled “Enchiladas Italianas” on the menu.”


M’Tucci’s Italian

Open Hours(505) 503-7327
Table reservation recommended

Paradise Hills
6001 Winter Haven Road
Albuquerque, NM 87120

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The Point Grill

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I’ll get right to the Point: The Point Grill rocks.

Shrimp

Taste of Rio Rancho 201

People’s Choice—Taste of Rio Rancho 201

Fifth visit: February 14, 2017
First visit: January 26, 2016

You say that Rio Rancho has no good eating places and refuse to cross the river? I say that there are at least four excellent Rio Rancho restaurants: Joe’s Pasta House, Namaste, M’Tucci’s Moderno, and The Point Grill. Gasoline is inexpensive now, so fire up your auto and get on over here.

Chef Mike White’s Point Grill is only a few minutes north of the Santa Ana Star Center, and it is a pretty drive to its Mariposa location. Mike’s cooking is highly inventive and downright excellent. This is why he won the People’s Choice Award at the 2016 Taste of Rio Rancho.

The Point does not have a huge menu, but the flavors are huge and the presentation is artistic. The view from the patio (soon to be enclosed)  is beautiful. Watch the mountain watermelon as you quaff your happy hour beverage (try the Bosque Brewery IPA—rich, flowery hops taste that  love).

Here is a sampling of some of my favorite dishes

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits

Cajun Shrimp and Grits

Creamy jalapeno grits with Cajun spiced shrimp. Topped with maple bacon, smoked provolone, a sunny-up egg, and scallions.

This is my favorite dish here. The combination of sweet (from the maple), salty (from the bacon), spicy (from the jalapeños), and cheesy make a flavor profile that will haunt you for days. This dish made its way onto my Best Dishes of 2016 List.

And now, in somewhat chronological order, comes the rest of the est.

Shrimp Po Boy

Shrimp Po’ Boy

Shrimp Po’ Boy

Served with ‘bang!’ sauce and house made pickles.

You needn’t fly to NOLA for a fine po’ boy. This is it, right here. Succulent shrimp lightly battered in a spicy coating, the tastes will tickle your palate. The sauce has a nice bang. Order it with a nice ale, and you will never go anyplace in the Duke City for a po’ boy.

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti

Spicy Italian sausage, house made meatballs, grilled peppers and onions, and mozzarella.

When you try this,you will be transported to Italy. As is true for all of Mike’s dishes, this is a near-perfect blend of fresh tastes that just pop on your palate. The sauce barely coats the tender ziti.

 

Artichoke Chicken

Artichoke Chicken

Artichoke Chicken 

Grilled chicken and goat cheese on angel hair with artichoke, lemon, and capers

I have had this delightful dish several times, the latest being yesterday with the Dazzling Deanell. The light sauce is gently herby. The goat cheese is an outstanding and tasty addition. The angel hair is as good as it gets, and perfectly cooked. Another outstanding dish.

Crabcake Benny

Crabcake Benny

Crabcake Eggs Benedict

Cajun crab cakes atop dressed spring mi; topped with poached egg, hollandaise and Cajun seasoning

Many of you know that I am a crabcake freak. I grew up near the Chesapeake Bay, and I still make them at home from my prize-winning recipe.  Mike is from Virginia Beach, and adores blue crab. It shows in his dish. Perfect Hollandaise atop prperly poached egg atop his cracake. Wonderful. I want more.

Sunrise Burger

Sunrise Burger

Sunrise Burger

Served with avocado, bacon, Havarti, and a sunny-side-up egg.

I usually am a Green Chile Cheeseburger (competition style), but this amazing burger has changed mi mind: It is fabulous. Medium-rare juicy beef, and loaded with taste, this should not e missed. Sloppy—you might need a knife and fork, or at least a pile of napkins.

Bacon & Bleu$Burger

Bacon & Bleu$Burger

Bacon & Bleu$Burger

Served with crispy bacon and gooey melted blue cheese.

This is one heckuva mouthful. One of the very best burgers I have ever had (and I certainly have had my share). Perfectly cooked juicy medium-rare beef drips down your cheeks. Difficult to handle if you have a beard.

Get sautéed mushrooms on the side. Yum.

Lobster Bisque

Lobster Bisque

Lobster Bisque

Just loaded with large, succulent chunks (not those puny bits) of lobster tail meat.


Mike presented us with a preview cup of one of the dishes that will be served Last night (Valentine’s Day) this evening. The special dinner was all sold out. These events are popular, so if you want to go to one, get your oar in early. 

Epilogue

Point has been open for about 18 months. It is going strong. For lunch yesterday, it was so crowded that Dazzler and I had to sit at the bar (along with two other couples. There are several reasons for this success. First, I think Mike White is a genius in the kitchen. He is partners with the building owner (my entrepreneur friend Dale Hansel).

It is so successful that they will expand into the vacant space next door (you read it here first).  I think that the excellent food, marketing, and management will ensure that Point will continue to be a rousing success.

The Point is now listed in Larry’s Top Ten.


What Others are Saying

Gil GarduñoNew Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite 

Sausage and Peppers

Sausage and Peppers

“The Point Grill in Rio Rancho’s Mariposa master-planned community. If you’re thinking “that’s too far,” think of going there as a New Year’s resolution (we’re not that deep into 2016) to journey outside your neighborhood in pursuit of new culinary adventures.  Better still, think of it as a treat (you owe it to yourself) in that you’ll get to experience a meal that competes with Joe’s Pasta House and Namaste as the best in the city and among the best in the metropolitan area.  That’s what our friends Dave and Joe have done and they live almost as far east as you can go while still being in Placitas. Dave and Joe introduced us to The Point which has become one of their favorite restaurants, distance be damned.

Apple Cobbler

Apple Cobbler

“By popular request, Chef White has figured out how to package his magnificent desserts for guests who want to enjoy them at home.  While it’s possible their aesthetic appeal may lose something by virtue of being jostled on the ride home, they’re bound to be just as delicious once you get there (at least during the winter when the cold prevents ice cream from melting).  These are desserts you’ll dream about.  Just ask my friends Larry McGoldrick and Dazzling Deanell who’ve made the trek to the Point several times and are still raving about it.

“Get to The Point! It may be a bit of a drive for many of you, but the destination is worth the drive. The Point is destination dining at its best!”


The Point Grill Details 

Hours pointMap

2500 Parkway Ave
Rio Rancho, NM 87144
Phone number(505) 903-7453

locationWebsite
Facebook
Menu 

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Previews of Coming Attractions

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Last Revised on February 24, 2017. 

As I get older and wiser, I find that my eyesight is slowly deteriorating. It is getting more trying to write as many reviews as often as has been my habit. From now on, I will be very selective about what I post here. Here is my plan:

All restaurant reviewed here must be

  • Outstanding — among the very best that New Mexico has to offer, or
  • Unique — in a class all by itself.

I won’t write a review until I have been there at least four times. As always, I welcome your suggestions. Here is what is in the queue right now.

Except for some special events such as Wine Pairing Dinners. Like this one at Blade’s.

PS: I am no longer linking to Zomato. They pissed me off. Try Yelp instead. 


Salmon with Polenta

Salmon with Polenta

M’Tucci’s Modern Italian

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Death by Lemon for The Dazzler

Death by Lemon for The Dazzler

Savoy Bar and Grill

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Catfish

Catfish

Bucket Headz Southern Home Cooking

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Chicken Asparagus Rollup

Chicken Asparagus Rollup

Aura European Mediterranean Restaurant

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Fresh Bistro

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Seventhth Visit: March 2, 2017 
First Visit: January 12, 2017

Jon and Melissa

Jon and Melissa

Chef Jon Young and his lovely wife, Melissa, have put together a delightful new restaurant to accompany their Fresh Mobile Bistro, which is usually parked outside the restaurant.
Jon is a wizard in the kitchen. He has a passion for good, fresh, excellently prepared food, and that’s precisely what you will get here.

There are two menus: lunch and brunch (weekends only, but the lunch menu is available on weekends). My first visit, accompanied by the Dazzling Deanell, was on a Thursday, and the experience was so delightful that we returned on the next Sunday to sample the brunch. What a treat.

Lunch Stuff 

Soups, pastas, sandwiches, and salads abound.

French Onon Soup

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

French onion soup is outstanding. Lots of onions add their sweetness to the rich, dark broth. Just the right amount of salt makes all the other tastes pop.

This is the best French Onion Soup that I have had in the Duke City.

 

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Chicken Pot Pie Soup 

This is an excellent chicken pot pie without the pastry crust. Great for low-carb fans, like me. The body of the soup  is light and creamy, and the soup is loaded with chicken and mushrooms and topped with fresh herbs. Low salt, as usual.

This soup is not on the menu, and Jon offers it as a special. Luckily  for me, it was available every time I was there. You should be so lucky, too.

Seafood Linguini

Seafood Linguini

Seafood Linguini

The Seafood Linguini is the very best version of this classic I have ever had. Sun-dried tomatos, spinach, artichoke hearts, and assorted seafood atop a bed of house-made linguini. The clear marinara is perfect, and just enough to lightly coat the pasta.

This is a light dish that satisfies the palate. Exceptional.

Carbonara

Carbonara

Carbonara

All too often, Carbonara is served swimming in sauce  drowning the pasta. Not here.

The fresh pasta is lightly coated with a white sauce with lots of pancetta. The pancetta is cooked in water first to remove excess salt and then lightly crisped. Perfect blend of flavors fills the mouth. This is the way that Carbonara should be done.  

Chicken Penne

Chicken Penne

Chicken Penne

Chicken breast served with Romano cheese, sun-dried tomatos, and a garlic cream sauce.

This dish scores tens for appearance, taste, and texture. The lovely cream sauce coats the pasta and does not puddle in the bottom of the bowl. The sun-dried tomatos taste great, a fine addition to the sauce.

House Ravioli

House Ravioli

House Ravioli

Wild mushrooms, ricotta cheese, and herbs in a fresh marinara.

The pasta is house-made. The mushroom stuffing is earthy and delicious. The light marinara has that perfect balance between acidity and sweetness, and is low on salt—just enough to make the flavors pop. This is very fresh tasting stuff. Easily a favorite of The Dazzler.

Vegetable Croissant and Butternut Squash Stew

California Croissant and
Butternut Squash Stew

California Croissant with Butternut Squash Stew 

The California Croissant (smoked turkey, fresh tomato, avocado, radish microgreens with a roasted red pepper pesto) drew raves from the Dazzling Deanell. You must try this.

The Butternut Squash Stew is thick and rich. It is quite spicy with a bit of green chile, just the way I like it.

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

For dessert, Jon prepared a chocolate mousse with fresh berries on the top for us. The dark, rich chocolate is hauntingly good, and barely sweet. The bitterness of the chocolate shines through. A perfect dish that you must try.

Once again, the Dazzler was dazzled by this dish. She still, wistfully, talks about it.

 

Bourbon Pecan Bread Pudding

Bourbon Pecan Bread Pudding

Bourbon Pecan Bread Pudding 

By now you should know that I am a bread pudding freak.

This is an example of a perfectly done bread pudding—not too dry, not too soggy, but just right Goldilocks would have loved it.

The bread is from baguettes, and as the right amount of moisture. The pecans add a Southern flair. The slightly sweet bourbon sauce Complements everything, is very tasty, and holds the entire ish together. This will be in my Bread Pudding Hall of Fame soon. Delightful.

And then there was brunch three days later.

Brunch Stuff

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

Two poached eggs and ham atop toasted sourdough bread with an excellent Hollandaise.

You can get Eggs Benedict in most places here that serve brunch.  There are many variations as there are restaurants— eggplant, bacon, Canadian bacon, crabcakes, green chile biscuits, and more — and they are all good. Jon’s version is my current favorite for one reason: the hollandaise is  the best I have had in New Mexico. Lemony with a velvety mouth feel. Perfection!

Eggs Benedict Carne Adovada

Eggs Benedict Carne Adovada

Eggs Benedict Carne Adovada

Two poached eggs and Carne Adovada  atop toasted sourdough bread with an excellent Hollandaise.

Same as above with the ham replaced with Carne Adovada. The Carne is very good, spicy, but not too hot. Your grandmother would love this.

 

Chicken and Mushroom Crepes

Chicken and Mushroom Crepes

Chicken and Mushroom Crepes  — Frenchilada

Gluten-free crepes filled with roasted chicken breast and mushrooms in a light garlic sauce. The GF crepes are slightly thicker that classic French crepes, but that should not put you off. This dish scores aces in appearance, taste, and texture.

Outstanding.

Peaches and Cream French Toast

Peaches and Cream French Toast

Peaches and Cream French Toast

The Dazzler and I shared this Sourdough French toast with peaches and sweetened mascarpone and a brandied syrup.

Unbelievably good.

 

Tarragon-Infused Fresh Lemonade

Tarragon-Infused Fresh Lemonade

Tarragon-Infused Fresh Lemonade

During our first visit, Jon suggested that on our return, we should try his lemonade. Glad we did. Fresh lemonade is barely sweetened, and the tarragon gives the drink a unique pop. Caution—this may be habit forming.

 

You get the idea. I really love this place. You will, too.

The Fresh Mobile Bistro

This is where it all started. I will visit this Restaurant-in-a-Coach soon and report back here. I will probably hire it for my 82nd birthday.

Fresh Mobile Bistro

Fresh Mobile Bistro. Seats 12 for dinner prepared in the coach’s kitchen.

 

Fresh Bistro Details 

HoursMap
  • 7319 4th St NW
    Los Ranchos de Albuquerque,
    NM 87107

    DeskNorth Valley/Los Ranchos
    Get Directions
    Phone number(505) 985-8449

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M’Tucci’s Italian Market & Pizzeria

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It just doesn’t get any better

MMD

Fifty-eighth visit: April 11, 2017
First visit: March 24, 2015 

There are dozens of delis in the Duke City. There are, to my knowledge, only two Italian New York style delis: Tully’s and M’tucci’s Italian Market & Pizzeria (MMP). Tully’s is a long-time favorite of mine, and prepares the best Italian Hoagies in New Mexico. I still go there to abate my hoagie craving. In late 2014, MMP arrived on the scene and took  the city by storm. I discovered MMP last March (2015) and have been there twenty-seven times as of this writing. I guess that makes MMP my new favorite.

Lunches. Dinners. Wine pairing dinners (I had the Piedmont pairing, see below for some details). Meats. Cheeses. Salads like you wouldn’t believe (the beet salad is insanely great). Fresh-baked breads. Every mouthful here is an OMG experience. Almost everything is hand-made.

MMP, a tiny place with 12 seats inside and about a half-dozen outside, is in a class all by itself. It has already garnered a substantial collection of regulars (most of whom recognize each other—it’s that kind of place), none of whom would ever consider entering a fast-food joint.

The staff will usually know you by name after your second visit.

Who are they 

Cory Gray – Executive Chef, and Shawn Cronin – Sous Chef

Shawn and Cory

Cory Gray – Executive Chef
Shawn Cronin – Sous Chef

“Cory and Shawn had already collaborated for years, before the  opening of M’tucci’s Market & Pizzeria (MMP),  and they are at it again as they bake, cook, age, and cure their way to creative culinary bliss.

“Prior to joining M’tucci’s, Cory was the Chef at Farina Alto in Albuquerque which he helped to open and where he began the meat curing program  for their pizzas.  Before Farina, Cory worked at the Artichoke Café for 6 years from 2003 and from there went  to Farina and finally on to Farina Alto.

“Shawn came to MMP from Farm and Table where he was the Sous Chef. He went there from Farina Alto where he was Sous Chef. Before Farina Alto, Shawn worked at both Artichoke Café and Farina. ”

Jeff Spiegel & Katie Gardner

Jeff Spiegel & Katie Gardner — Owners and Operators

Jeff Spiegel & Katie Gardner
Owners / Operators

“Just two years ago, in 2013, Jeff and Katie decided to open another restaurant, this time in Albuquerque, a dramatic decision, having left behind the restaurant business in 2006, after 23 years and 11 restaurants in NYC. Now, fully committed to building their business in NM, the two, together with partner John Haas, have opened a restaurant, a market & deli and recently M’tucci’s Cocina Grill at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.  “We are building a retail food business here that we are defining by our commitment to perfection!”

Note added December 1, 2016

This favorite of mine has changed its name and mission: in addition of spectacular Italian deli food, they have installed a new triple-decker pizza oven and serve up some of the mods delicious sounding gourmet pizzas.

For my last dozen or so visits, I don’t even look at the menu. Cory and Shawn know what I like and what is healthy for me, and automatically start a custom meal as soon as I walk in the door. Here is what they prepared for the Dazzling Deanell and me today.

Seared shrimp and peppers

Seared shrimp and peppers

Seared shrimp and peppers

Seared shrimp and peppers

Grilled chicken with root vegetables

Grilled chicken with root vegetables

 

These are among the very best dishes I have had in this town, and I have come to expect such perfection here.

The Food

All the food is lovingly hand-made. Here is a sampling of some of my favorites. The scratch-made pastas are not floating in sauce, but are gently coated with some of the very best sauces in town.

Ziti and Pork

Ziti and Pork

Ziti and Pork

Later in this review I advise you to ask about the daily specials. This amazing dish is indeed special, and displays the talents of the kitchen.

Almost all Italian places prepare some version of Ziti, but none come even close to this. The pork is slow-cooked and very tender and tasty. The sauce is the thing here: Incredibly tasty. Beautifully herbed and spiced.  MMP should bottle this for sale in the deli section.

Pepperonata Pasta

Pepperonata Pasta

Peperonata Pasta

Red bell pepper, garlic cream sauce. Optional: add MM hot Italian sausage or sweet Italian Sausage. Served over homemade pappardelle.

By all means add the sausage. House-made with just the right amount of aromatic fennel seed. [I keep this sausage in my home.]

This dish is a favorite of many of the regulars at MMP. Rightfully so. Mine, too.

Pastrami

Pastrami

Pastrami Sandwich with Lentil Salad

MM pastrami, herbed goat cheese, fresh red onion, MM mustard, on MM rye

My favorite Pastrami in the Duke City. Juicy and fatty, the way it should be. No dried-out stuff here. This pastrami is on hand-made rye bread, with a hint of sourness. Delicious. The Lentil Salad (pickled onion, carrot, zucchini, rosemary, sage, thyme, Tucumcari gouda) is exemplary.  Buy some to take home.

Pastrami and Rye.

Pastrami and Rye.

While you’re at it, get some pastrami and a loaf of that fantastic bread.

Oh, what the heck: just buy a bag full of the goodies from the  deli case. You may have to wait in line — it gets crowded with regulars. Just strike up a conversation. You will make a new friend.

Muffaletta with Orzo Salad

Muffaletta with Orzo Salad

Muffaletta with Orzo Salad

MM capicola, mortadella, salami, olive tapenade, MM smoked mozzarella, on MM ciabatta.

From Wikipedia: “The muffuletta is both a type of round Sicilian sesame bread and a popular sandwich originating among Italian immigrants in New Orleans, Louisiana using the same bread.”

OK, here I go again: This is the very best sandwich I have had in ages. Even though it is not served on the classic muffuletta (ciabatta is used here), it ranks right up there with the muffulettas I have had in New Orleans.

Orzo salad (roasted zucchini, roasted eggplant, roasted leeks, red bell pepper, fresh basil on tender orzo) is a fine accompaniment  to this (or any) sandwich.

MMD Market Salad

MMPMarket Salad

Beet Salad

Beet Salad

Beet Salad:
Local stout-balsamic vinegar reduction, braised beets, pickled red onion, watermelon-radish with local feta, butter leaf and frisee.

I would eat this stupefyingly great salad every day were in not for a medical condition that requires me to limit my intake of foods containing oxalates, which for me tends to create kidney stones (ouch!). One serving each month is safe for me, and I intend to have  just that.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Apricot Balls

Prosciutto-Wrapped Apricot Balls

Prosciutto-wrapped Apricots with 10-year-old Balsamic

Make sure to ask your server about the daily specials, or you might miss out on a gem like this.

Shawn found some fresh, local apricots one morning and created this excellent appetizer.  He wrapped the fruit with some 2-year-old prosciutto from the deli case and splashed the plate with some 10-year-old balsamic. Shawn’s hunt was my good fortune. Terrific combination.

The Wine Dinners

Once or twice each month Cory and Shawn put together a Wine and food Pairing Dinner. I was fortunate to get two seats for the Piedmont Pairing. Get your reservations (call MMP) early — these things fill up fast.

M'Tucci's Piedmont Dinner

Bread

Bread and Oil

Stuffed Onion

Stuffed Onion

 

 

 

 

Saffron Risotto Souffle with Coppa

Saffron Risotto Souffle with Coppa

Duck Terrine with caramelized onion coulis and house grown mustard greens

Duck Terrine with caramelized onion coulis and house grown mustard greens

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polpettini di Maiale—Pork Meatballs agridolce served in brodo

Polpettini di Maiale—Pork Meatballs agridolce served in brodo

Dolce Tomma Della Rocca Panna Cotta with Fig compote and Hazelnut Brittle

Dolce Tomma Della Rocca Panna Cotta with Fig compote and Hazelnut Brittle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epilog

MMP is perfection in a small deli.  And it has earned the #6 spot on my ABQ Top Ten  List.

During the last several months, I have come to expect the unexpected. Cory and Shawn are experimentalists, constantly honing their prodigious talents. I eagerly await my next visit where I expect to be blown away by something new and fabulous. Come and join me. You, too, will get hooked, which is a good thing. And remember that good things come in small packages that belie their brilliance.

What Others Are Saying

Two of my favorite foodies weigh in on MMP:

MMD Interior

MMP Interior

Gil Garduño
New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite

“The hard-liners among us will never accept  that Schlotzky’s, Jason’s, McAlister’s and others of that ilk are delis despite what their signage may say.  Nor will we ever be duped by the deception of diners daring to call themselves delis.  It goes without saying that we don’t believe a deli should  feature products burnishing the labels of Oscar Mayer, Hormel, Kirkland, Butterball or even the ubiquitous Boar’s Head.  An authentic deli should preferably cure, salt, dry and cut its own meats and make at least some of its cheeses–and if it doesn’t do that, it should procure and sell only the finest, most authentic meats and cheeses available.

“With the December, 2014 launch of M’Tucci’s Italian Market & Pizzeria, Albuquerque once again has an authentic Italian deli in the tradition of delis for which hard-core deli aficionados have pined for far too long.  It’s a deli in which I’d proudly break bread with Dave Hurayt, Bruce Schor, Bob Sherwood and Gary Feaster with whom I’ve commiserated about the absence of an authentic deli in Albuquerque.  Best of all, it’s a deli with a pedigree that promises authenticity and deliciousness.”

The Charcuterie Board is one menu choice at M’Tucci’s Italian Market and Deli on the West Side. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

The Charcuterie Board is one menu choice at M’Tucci’s Italian Market and Pizzeria on the West Side. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Andrea Lin —
Albuquerque Journal

“Don’t overlook the condiments: onion jam, tomato relish, mustard and more – perfect for smearing on the bread in between bites of charcuterie.

“The rest of the menu veers toward the prosaic-sounding like salads and pastas – the caveat is that they’re made with M’Tucci’s’ impeccable deli ingredients. I love the Beet Salad ($6 half, $11 full) and its braised ruby veggies, pickled onions, feta and housemade vinaigrette.

“Because this is a deli, there are, of course, sandwiches galore from classic Cubano to a southern Muffaletta ($11) stuffed with three meats, olives and smoked mozzarella on their ciabatta.

“Honestly, the pastas here are fantastic and it takes discipline to work through the menu rather than just having your favorite every time. Before leaving, don’t miss the deconstructed Cannoli Pila ($6) for dessert, a stacked sweet pile of ricotta, cherries, and crunchy shell. Magnifico!”

 

Deli stuff

M’tucci’s Italian Market & Pizzeria

(505) 639-4819 

6001 Winter Haven Rd NW,

Albuquerque, NM 87120

Don James eats well at M'Tucci's Deli

Don James eats well at M’Tucci’s Deli

Hours: Mon – Sun: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm

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Pad Thai Cafe

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The most flavorful Thai food in ABQ

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Sixth visit: November 17, 2016
First visit: March 31, 2016 

I have added Pad Thai Cafe to my coveted Top Ten List

Thai Cuisine

How di I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my taste buds can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day’s Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

Fried Insects

Fried Insects (from Wikipedia)

Thai cuisine (Thai: อาหารไทย; RTGS: Ahan Thai) is the national cuisine of Thailand. Balance, detail, and variety are of paramount significance to Thai chefs. In his 2010 book The Principles of Thai Cookery, celebrity chef, writer, and authority on Thai cuisine McDang writes:

“What is Thai food? Every country in the world has its own food profile. It reflects its culture, environment, ingenuity and values. In the case of Thailand, these words come to mind: intricacy; attention to detail; texture; color; taste; and the use of ingredients with medicinal benefits, as well as good flavor.
“We not only pay attention to how a dish tastes: we are also concerned about how it looks, how it smells, and how it fits in with the rest of the meal. We think of all parts of the meal as a whole – sum rap Thai (the way Thais eat), is the term we use for the unique components that make up a characteristically Thai meal.”

Bird Peppers

Bird Peppers (from Wikipedia)

Thai cooking places emphasis on lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components and a spicy edge. It is known for its complex interplay of at least three and up to four or five fundamental taste senses in each dish or the overall meal: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and spicy. Australian chef David Thompson, a prolific chef and expert on Thai food, observed that unlike many other cuisines:

“Thai food ain’t about simplicity. It’s about the juggling of disparate elements to create a harmonious finish. Like a complex musical chord it’s got to have a smooth surface but it doesn’t matter what’s happening underneath. Simplicity isn’t the dictum here, at all. Some westerners think it’s a jumble of flavours, but to a Thai that’s important, it’s the complexity they delight in.”

Seafood Market

Seafood Market (from Wikipedia)

Thai cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. In 2011, seven of Thailand’s popular dishes appeared on the list of the “World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods (Readers’ Pick)”— a worldwide online poll of 35,000 people by CNN Travel. Thailand had more dishes on the list than any other country. They were: tom yam goong (4th), pad Thai (5th), som tam (6th), massaman curry (10th), green curry (19th), Thai fried rice (24th) and moo nam tok (36th).

There are 19 restaurants in Albuquerque that serve Thai food. Pad Thai Cafe is my favorite, and a cut below you will find Siam Cafe and Thai Kitchen.

Appetizers

Fish Cakes

Fish Cakes

Fish Cakes

Thai Fish Cakes Thot man pla (ทอดมันปลา)
10 pieces served with cucumbers and sweet and sour sauce

These silver dollar-sized fish cakes are deep fried to perfection. The tangy dipping sauce is out-of-this-world spicy. Incomparable.

Pot Stickers

Pot Stickers

Fried Potstickers

8 pork potstickers, seasoned with pepper, garlic, and fish sauce. Served with sweet and sour sauce.

Surely you have had pot stickers before in many types of restaurants. These are among the very best I have had anywhere. Never salty, but just plain delicious.

egg rolls

Egg Rolls

Egg Rolls

Four pork egg rolls served with sweet and sour chili sauce

Smallish egg rolls explode onto your palate. Expertly fried. The dipping sauce is amazing.

Warning: habit forming. You may crave these during the middle of the night.

Tom Yum

Tom Yum

Chicken Tom Yum

Tom Yum Gai (ต้มยำไก่)
Spicy & Sour Chicken soup with lemon-grass, galangal, mushrooms, tomato, lime, cilantro, onion, chili, and fish sauce.

I have eaten Tom Yum all over this country. The Dazzling Deanell agrees that this is the best we have ever had. The spicing is outrageously good. The lemongrass and chiles bathe your taste buds in a rich bath of complex flavors. Fabulous dish.

Entrees

Pad Thai Cafe has an extensive menu. Among mu favorite types of dishes are curries and noodle dishes. Here are some I have not tried yet:

  • Spicy Fried Rice with Chicken
  • Green Curry Fried Rice
  • Pad Lad-Nah (ผัดราดหน้า)
  • Pad Siu (ผัดซีอิ๊ว)
  • Stir Fried Eggplant
  • Spicy Chili Basil Pad Gra Phow (กะเพรา)
  • Pad ped (ผัดเผ็ด)
  • Chicken with Cashewnuts Kai phat met mamuang himmaphan (ไก่ผัดเม็ดมะม่วงหิมพานต์)
  • Moo Thod (หมูทอด)
  • Som tam Thai (ส้มตำไทย) (Papaya Salad), and
  • Laab (ลาบ) (Minced pork salad)

Here is a sampling of what I had. There will be more. Lots more.

Thai Curries

Thai curry refers to dishes in Thai cuisine that are made with various types of curry paste; the term can also refer to the pastes themselves. A Thai curry dish is made from curry paste, coconut milk or water, meat, seafood, vegetables or fruit, and herbs. Curries in Thailand mainly differ from the curries in Indian cuisine in their use of fresh ingredients such as herbs and aromatic leaves over a mix of spices.

The curries at Pad Thai Cafe are consistently the best I have ever had. The smoothness and mouthfeel are exquisite. The flavors explode onto your palate. The heat level can be anywhere you want, from mild to Thai hot (and more). Look at the image of Yellow Curry. I asked Noi to make this Thai hot. It was (see the flakes of red chile?). The heat does not mask the other spicing, a tribute to the excellence of this kitchen.

You can add chicken, beef, shrimp, or fried catfish to any of these. My favorite is the Panang with catfish.

Red Curry

Red Curry
Coconut Milk, curry paste, fish sauce, salt, sugar, basil, and red bell pepper.

Yellow Curry

Yellow Chicken Curry Kaeng Kure (แกงกะหรี่)
Chicken, coconut milk, yellow curry paste, fish sauce, salt, sugar, white onion, and potato

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Curry

Green Curry
Coconut Milk, curry paste, fish sauce, salt, sugar, basil, and Bamboo shoot

Massaman Curry

Massaman Curry
Coconut milk, curry paste, chicken stock, fish sauce, salt, sugar, roast peanuts, yellow onion, and potato.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panang Fish Curry

Panaeng Catfish phanaeng pla duk (พะแนงปลาดุก)
Catfish, coconut milk, panaeng curry paste, fish sauce, sugar, Kafir lime leaf.

Panang curry with chicken represents the diversity of Thailand’s southern region. Panang refers to the island of Penang in Northern Malaysia bordering southern Thailand. Use 4 tablespoons curry paste from a fresh curry paste recipe or 5 tablespoons pre-made curry paste if time does not permit making your own paste.

This delicious curry has become my top favorite, and has earned a coveted place on my Best Dishes of 2016 List.

Noodle dishes

Most Americans know a handful of Thai noodle dishes, such as Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles. You need to break out of this rut and widen your sights. Check out this list of Thai noodle dishes.

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Pad Thai (ผัดไทย)
Garlic, shallot, bean curd, rice stick noodles, green onions, bean sprouts, ground peanuts, & lime
Add beef, chicken, pork , or shrimp.

Stir fried medium size rice noodles (sen lek) with fish sauce, sugar, lime juice or tamarind pulp, ground peanuts, egg, bean sprouts, and Chinese chives (kuichai), combined with pork, chicken, seafood, or tofu.

This famous dish has become the most popular dish in many American Thai restaurants. In all other Thai restaurants I have tried, this dish is much too sweet and boring, At Pad Thai Cafe, all of the elements are perfectly balanced. Order it spicy to Thai hot.

A favorite of Ryan “Break the Chain” Scott.

Drunken Noodles

Drunken Noodles

Drunken Noodles 

Drunken Noodles Kuai-tiao phat khi mao (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวผัดขี้เมา)
Stir fried wide rice noodles with fish sauce, chili, garlic, basil, baby corn, carrot, and broccoli
Beef, chicken, pork, or shrimp

The Dazzling Deanell Collins could not stop raving about this fabulous dish. Aces for appearance, taste, and texture. You will not find a better version anywhere else in New Mexico.

Sweets

There are only three desserts listed on the menu:

Khao tom mat sai kluai (ข้าวต้มมัดไส้กล้วย)
Sticky coconut and banana rice cake wrapped and steamed in banana leaf,

Mango Rice Khao niao mamuang (ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง)
Sticky rice cooked in sweetened thick coconut milk, served with slices of ripe mango, and

Ice Cream Combo
Three Scoops of Mango, Green Tea, and Coconut ice cream, topped with toasted almonds.

When ordering a lunch special, a dessert-of-the-day will be included, such as one of the four pictured here. The sweet purple rice hes a thick, syrupy texture and is delicious. The tapioca and corn is to me the very best Thai dessert I have tasted. Not too sweet, but just right. If you are lucky, this will be the dessert of thr day, so jeep going back to see what comes up on your next visit.

Sweet Purple Rice

Sweet Purple Rice

Fruit

Fruit

 

Watermelon

Watermelon

Tapioca

Tapioca and Corn

 

 

 

You probably have had the rest. Now you need to treat yourself with the best. Often. Anw when you are finished, go into the Talin Market right next door and  stock up on the makings for creating these dishes right in your own kitchen. Don’t forget to pick up some fresh Bird Peppers. I cook with them all the time. HOT.

What others are saying

Gil Garduño — New Mexico’s Sesquipedalian Sybarite

Tom Yum and Dumplings

Tom Yum and Dumplings

“When you discover a restaurant as amazing as the Pad Thai Cafe, you’ve got to share it with your friends.  For the most part that means sharing my observations on this blog.  Among my cherished readers are three of my very best friends, fellow foodies who’ll drop what they’re doing to join me for a meal to validate the veracity of the claims on my blog. My second visit to the Pad Thai Cafe was with Ryan “Break the Chain” Scott: Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the perspicacious palate; and the Dazzling Deanell Collins.  They were all surprised at the diversity, explosiveness and balance of flavors in every dish we enjoyed.  By meal’s end, there was near unanimous consensus that the Pad Thai Cafe is the Duke City’s very best Thai restaurant.

“Named for a dish that had never before “wowed” me, the Pad Thai Café would be a restaurant we’d have on our regular rotation if we had a regular rotation. It’s one of the very best Thai restaurants in the Duke City.”


Pad Thai Cafe 

(505) 266-0567

PadThai01LocationFairgrounds 
110 Louisiana Boulevard SE Suite A,
Albuquerque,, NM  87108
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Mon – Sat: 
11 AM to 8 PM, except
Closed Tuesday
Sun:  
11 AM to 7 PM

Pad Thai Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

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Horseman’s Haven Cafe

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 It’s the chile, stupid… 

Chow Station

First Visit: November 19, 2011

This excellent restaurant may have odd hours, but it is also a local favorite. The Haven has some of the best green chile in the entire state of New Mexico. Service is quick and friendly, and their prices are reasonable. The level #2 green chile is not for the faint of heart, seriously, and some have deemed it as the hottest green chile in the entire southwest. You have to special order it with your meal. But I get ahead of myself.

Green Chile Cheeseburger with level 2 green on the side

I have been on a Green Chile Cheeseburger quest since I came to New Mexico 3-1/2 years ago. I maintain a list of the top ten that I have found in my Hall of Fame page. When I order a GCCB, I get it competition style —patty, cheese, green chile on a nondescript lightly toasted bun — so I can judge the taste and texture without salad on it and without mustard or ketchup (ugh) to adulterate it.  Jane usually orders them straight off the menu, the way that the cooks present them. We compare notes.

The level 2 half GCCB. Wow!

I had been told by gastromomes whom I trust that the Haven makes a really great GCCB, so there we were one Saturday afternoon staring at two of the loveliest looking GCCB creations that I have seen. The beef is properly fatty and not dry, but quite moist without being greasy. These are hand-cut and hand0formed beef patties with a tantalizingly irregular shape. No cookie-cutter patties here, Bub. The cheese was properly gloppy (with almost stick-to-your-teeth consistency.) Bun was great, not yuppie style with some seeds baked onto the top.

I ordered two small dishes of the Green for comparison and experimentation. The regular Green is very high on the piquancy scale, which may be too hot for most tourists and gringos. This I put on one half of the burger, and covered the other half with a mixture (half and half) of the regular and the legendary level 2 stuff. Both halves were fantastic, but then I am a chilehead. Jane stuck with the regular Green. A minor point—the Green, while very tasty, could have a slightly more smoky taste.

Really Great Home Fried Potatos

Both lunches were accompanied by a large pile of most delightful home fried potatos that were cooked to perfection. They were slightly crusty, and were probably the best that we have had in New Mexico. Almost worth a special trip from Corrales to Santa Fe.

There may be those who think that eating really hot chile concoctions borders on the macho. Well, these folks don;t appreciate the beauties of properly prepared Green or Red. Get over it. It adds to and complements whatever it is served with. So there.

#3 GCCB

#3 GCCB

The Haven serves many other delicious sounding (and looking) New Mexican dishes. Something for every taste. Maybe I’ll try them sometime. When I get my fill of the GCCBs, that is. The room is truck-stop modern, and all the diners (mostly locals, I surmise) look happy. I know why. Go there and get happy.

The Haven’s GCCB cracked my Hall of Fame, and is now my third favorite GCCB in New Mexico (therefore the universe).

Horseman’s Haven Cafe

(505) 471-5420

Santa Fe
4354 Cerrillos Rd Map
Santa Fe, NM 87507

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