As I mentioned on Monday, my Dark Knight Rises review was delayed because of unforeseen circumstances. You see, I was kidnapped.
It all started around 10:30 Saturday morning when Ursula told me to get dressed, as she was taking me to lunch. Then she also told me leave at home my concealed carry. That got me to asking questions, and Ursula finally relented—we were headed to the airport.
So, after a quick bite, we sheltered the car and shuttled over to the terminal. Next thing I know, we’re winging our way to Albuquerque, renting a Kia Soul (not a bad little car, by the way—a bit gutless, but not bad), and driving north to Santa Fe. I had reservations on this kidnapping.
No, not that kind of reservations. Reservations at our favorite restaurant. I have a birthday coming up soon, and Ursula decided we would start celebrating a little early. Indeed, those celebrations will culminate in a cruise later in August, but you’ll hear more about that later.
We’ve been going to The Old House since Martin Rios was the chef there. Yeah, that Martin Rios—the one who competed on Iron Chef America against Bobby Flay. Chef Rios has long since moved on, but The Old House still maintains the quality we fell in love with around a decade ago. The current menu under Executive Chef Anthony Smith is no disappointment, although there was one discordant note during this evening’s dining experience.
We opted to start with the Agave Trio—a delightful combination appetizers consisting of a bacon wrapped shrimp, two ginger pork wontons, and a crab cake that was almost all crab and very little “cake.”
It was after the appetizer that our tastes diverged. Ursula opted for the crab-stuffed lobster tail accompanied by grilled white asparagus with hollandaise and potatoes dauphinoise.
Alas, this dish was our only disappointment in all the years we’ve been dining at The Old House. The asparagus and hollandaise? Perfect. The dauphinoise? Exquisite beyond compare, with an incredibly crisp, cheesy top layer. The crab stuffing? Just as marvelous and tasty as the crab cake which preceded it. The Lobster? Dry. Slightly overdone.
My main course was the obvious guy choice—Twenty-eight-day dry aged ribeye (medium rare, but nicely charred on the outside) with herb compound butter and a side of macaroni and cheese with Hatch green chiles. The ribeye? Unbelievable—melted in the mouth like so much butter on a warm day. Mac & cheese? The choice of cheese was very good (I suspect it was a combination of Gouda and Gruyère), but where the heck were the green chiles from Hatch? I could neither taste nor see them. Nevertheless, it was a satisfying side dish.
Despite Ursula’s choice of seafood, we both agreed that this night’s meal deserved a red wine. Faced with the task of complimenting the beef without overpowering the crab and lobster, I could have gone with a Pinot Noir. Instead, I went a bit to the hearty side and settled on a Châteauneuf-du-Pape (a Rhone red). We were not disappointed, despite the hefty $72 bottle price. The particular Châteauneuf this night was a 2009 Domaine Roger Perrin, and it had a hint of sweetness (unusual for a Châteauneuf) that actually worked quite well with both dishes. In other words, I lucked out on the choice.
Desert saw another parting of the tastes between us. Ursula settled upon the banana split—thin pieces of banana sliced lengthwise and sautéed, topped with crunchy caramelized sugar, served with freshly whipped cream, toasted almond slices, kitchen-made vanilla ice cream, and a large serving of very high-end warm dark chocolate. No disappointments here:
I, on the other hand, opted for the fresh apricot and berry cobbler-style concoction with an oatmeal crumble topping and another helping of that kitchen-made vanilla ice cream. Another Old House home run:
What a great beginning to a month-long birthday celebration. Next week I’ll treat you to other highlights from this trip—including sights of Santa Fe, a return to Georgia O’Keefe Country, a quick jaunt up to Taos, and a favorite dining spot in Albuquerque.
Until then, try not to drool on your keyboard.