Ever go to a restaurant that was so good that you said, “We’ll be back . . . tomorrow!” Café 1Zero6 is that kind of restaurant. Chef-owner Jake Politte has a real winner on his hands with this hidden little gem on a Silver City side street one block off the main drag.
Café 1Zero6 is only open three evenings a week — Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Reservations only. You order online or by phone a day in advance from a menu that changes daily.
You read that correctly. You order in advance from a menu that changes daily. No wonder Jake only keeps this place open three evenings a week. That’s a lot of planning, shopping, and work!
Our original plan on this journey was to hit two restaurants. Café 1Zero6 was Ursula’s pick for our first evening near Silver City, as she’d discovered it in a review in New Mexico Magazine. The second would be just a short walk from our digs at the Bear Creek Motel & Cabins in nearby Pinos Altos, the famous Buckhorn Saloon & Opera House. Alas, Buckhorn got the short end of the stick after we had dined at Café 1Zero6 the night before, as we immediately upon finishing our dinner asked to see the menu for the next evening.
For instance, here’s the menu for our first visit on Friday, July 29, 2016:
- Mu Kroot—Little rice flour cakes with seasoned pork, coconut and scallion hit with coconut custard and served with sweet chili sauce. $7.50
- Camote Samosa—Roasted sweet potato, peas, curry and chili folded in pasta sheets and oil fired. Served with spicy banana ketchup. $7.50
- Red Curry Swordfish—Swordfish loin sliced and rubbed with garlic and ginger, pan fired and finished in fresh red curry, coconut milk and Thai basil. Served with Nasi Goreng. $22
- Beef Chow Fun—Beef tenderloin sliced and wok fired with ginger, scallion, white pepper, soy and Shaoxing wine. Wok tossed with turmeric rice noodles, special sauce and bean sprouts. Finished with dried shallot and chives. $20
- Pollo Sabroso—Chicken breast seasoned and stuffed with paste of Poblano chilies, olives, garlic and fresh herbs. Pan fired and hit with coriander lime sauce and served with zucchini cakes. $18
- Non-rotating selection of torte del chocolate, habenero key lime pie, blackberry torte, and berry-covered dulche la leche torte.
The appetizers looked so good that Ursula and I opted to try both and share. And here they are, starting with Ursula’s Mu Kroot — little rice flour cakes filled with a delectable combination of finely chopped spiced pork and coconut topped with scallions:
My Camote Samosa were packets of pasta filled with an inventive mixture of roasted sweet potato and peas flavored with curry and chile.
Both were exemplary treats, but we tended to enjoy more the mu kroot.
Moving on to our entreés, first let’s explore Ursula’s Red Curry Swordfish, which was exquisite in its red curry and coconut milk sauce topped with Thai basil and served with a side of nasi goreng (Indonesion-style fried rice). The aroma was as intoxicating as the presentation, and the taste was surprisingly mild considering the red curry base.
I was in a beefy mood, so I went with the Chow Fun. The tenderloin was a touch chewy for my taste, but the flavor more than made up for this minor drawback. The turmeric rice noodles were an exciting and welcome touch that really complimented the whole plate.
We don’t usually do desert, but tonight we simply could not resist Jake’s finishing touches. Ursula opted for the Torte del Chocolate. It was not a disappointment, and yes, it’s as decadently chocolatey as it looks:
I went for the more adventurous heat of the Habenero Key Lime Torte. What a treat! The coolness of the key lime perfectly offset the hint of spiciness from the underlying habenero chile:
After dinner we met with Jake outside as he took a break to enjoy the crisp New Mexico night air that had just recently been washed by a gentle rain. He chatted with the guard dogs across the street and coaxed them into accepting our presence without further commotion as we leaned atop the stone wall surrounding their property. Jake told us that he has been in the business for decades, including working in Paris and other of the world’s great cities. But modestly he does not consider himself a “chef”. Rather, he’s a self-described cook, and he lets you know that straight upfront. I would disagree, because his talents go far beyond that mundane description. He was rather pleased that we thought enough of his kitchen abilities that we would be returning the following day.
Here is the menu for our return trip:
- Roti Khas—Chicken ground with garlic, chili, yellow bean paste and Saifun. Rolled in pasta sheets and oil fired. Served with plum sauce. $7.50
- Jiaozi—Dumplings of pork, chicken and ginger boiled and served with traditional sauce. $7.50
- Pad Thai—Turmeric rice noodles wok tossed with shrimp, long cut calamari, onion, garlic, eggs and tofu. Hit with spicy sauce and sprouts. Finished with chili slivers and coriander leaf. $22
- Pelt of the Puma—Medallions of seasoned pork tenderloin rolled in apple wood bacon with fresh sage leaf, pan fired and hit with pan sauce. Served with our green onion potato pancakes and vegetable pasta. $21
- Kaaxo’ Kaajal—Chicken breast opened and marinated in citrus, chili and onion. Pan fired and finished in cream with aromatic spices. Nopales and red peppers share the plate with steamed rice. $19
This evening we would both choose the same appetizer, the Jiaozi, as we both adore dim sum-style dumplings. It was a good choice on our part, as even a double portion left us wanting more. The pork/chicken filling was perfectly spiced and flavorful; the pasta shell had just the right amount of texture and chewiness, and the “traditional” sauce was a great accompanying condiment.
Initially I was inclined to go with the Pad Thai this evening, but Jake convinced me to give his Kaaxo’ Kaajal a try. This dish employed as its star a split chicken breast marinated in citrus, chile, and onion. It was delicately pan fried, then finished up with an aromatically spiced cream sauce and served over basmati rice. An interesting side dish for this creation was the inclusion of red peppers and nopales, which is the juicy pad of the prickly pear cactus. The breast was certainly flavorful, and the meat retained a juiciness that lay testament to Jake’s prowess with both poultry and skillet.
Ursula decided this night to go with the Pelt of the Puma, a delectable pair of generously sized pork medallions wrapped in apple wood-smoked bacon. Equally intriguing were the potato pancakes with green onion. Also included as a side was a “pasta” of finely julienned and sautéed vegetables. My dish was great, but her choice was even better in both our opinions.
As good as were the previous night’s deserts, we both decided to go down the desert menu to expand our 1Zero6 experience. We were not disappointed. Ursula fed her fruit craving with a Blackberry Torte. I have to say this about Jake’s pastry skills — he certainly knows how to make a flaky, delicate crust that resists sogginess. When we chatted the night before I was pleased to find we shared the same pie crust secret, that old Southern trick of adding vinegar to the dough. Only in Jake’s case he was using apple cider vinegar, and he’s convinced me to switch from white vinegar the next time I make pie crust.
My choice of deserts this night was Jake’s raspberry-covered Dulce la Leche Torte. Rich caramel lined the bottom crust, upon which in turn resided a smooth, creamy, cheesecake-like layer that in turn was covered by a forest of fresh raspberries. We both thought this was the winning desert of the evening.
If you’re in the area of Silver City you definitely need to try this fantastic, affordable find. And if you’re not in the area, make a detour. But remember — Jake only works on Friday through Sunday, so plan ahead for a meal you’ll remember for years to come.
And tell Jake you heard about him here, and that I said, “Hi.” Then leave a comment here on your experience.