For food lovers it’s happy hour all the time in the bar at 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar. The well-priced bar menu (all items $8 each or five plates for $35) is one the best dining deals in Santa Fe. It offers an interesting selection of small plates to choose from. On a recent late spring Friday evening we were hungry after a gallery event on Canyon Road and wanted a light dinner. Since we’d wanted to try the bar menu for quite a while off we went.
Discovering one of the best dining deals in Santa Fe
The restaurant and bar were surprisingly empty for a Friday evening. This long-time favorite with both locals and tourists is usually packed on weekends. We sat outside under the portal to enjoy the warm evening. After perusing the menu we picked two appetizers figuring we’d add a third if we were hungry. We opted for the charcuterie platter expecting a few pieces of meat or pate along with a bit of cheese. What arrived was a stunning offering that included country pate duck rillettes, cacciatore salume, pork bresaola, mortadella, cornichons, pickled green beans, capers and spicy mustard. We also ordered the Crispy Calamari with lemon garlic aioli. We also ordered two glasses of wine ($9 each- the low end of the ever-changing and comprehensive by-the-glass list). We were pleasantly full after the two appetizers.
Based on this we figured that five for $35 deal would feed three normal to light eaters comfortably. It’s definitely one the best dining deals in Santa Fe! We wanted to check out our theory and share our experience with our readers. I contacted chef/owner Louis Moskow with our proposal: host us for a bar menu meal featuring the five dishes for $35 so we could write about it on Santa Fe Travelers. We asked if we could bring two friends to help us work our way through what we suspected might feed four. He agreed.
Can four eat for $35?
We went back last Sunday night with our two friends in hand. The plan was to confirm our theory that five dishes would feed at least three people if not four. This time we ate at one of the tall tables in the bar. Louis told us that they were introducing a new bar menu the following night. We decided to go with the three offerings that would remain on the new menu: the charcuterie platter, the NY Strip Steak and the cheese plate. The kitchen cooked up two of the new dishes for us to round out our five (we were the first diners to sample them). At the time of our meal they were still being tweaked. Again, the charcuterie platter was the star of the show. The generous platter is the best $8 food deal we’ve encountered in Santa Fe. The cheese platter was also visually appealing and a treat for our taste buds as well. While the cheeses will vary based on what’s available, there will always be a bleu cheese, a hard cheese and a soft cheese. Herbed honey is served over the bleu cheese, fruit compote is served with the soft cheese and the hard cheese is accompanied by candied nuts. Two slices of toasted sourdough bread completed the plate.
The Petite NY Strip Steak offered 3 slices of medium-rare steak served over a green peppercorn, accompanied by accompanied by an ample portion of perfectly crispy pommes frites and green salad dressed with classic French vinaigrette. The new dishes sampled were the Po’boy shrimp sliders and the Daikon Radish Cakes with Curry Sauce, plated with spring onions and pea sprouts. The three crunchy batter-dipped fried shrimp sliders were served on house-baked brioche with garlic lemon aioli. I loved the crunch of the shrimp. I’m not a big fan of lemon aioli and would ask for it on the side in the future. It’s all subjective. One member of our dining team pronounced them his favorite dish we sampled.
The three triangles of fried daikon cakes were crispy on the outside and comfortingly soft on the inside, a tangy curry sauce, grilled spring onions and peas sprouts completed the dish. The other offerings on the new menu are Grilled Spinach & Goat Cheese Pizza, Potato & Smoked Trout Fritters, Nini French Onion Lamb Cheeseburger with Compt cheese and caramelized onions as well as Chicken & Wild Mushroom Crépe – a total of nine tempting dishes to choose from.
The great thing about this menu is you can play with it. With a four you can order five different dishes or double up on one or two of them. The choice is yours.
A small confession
We cheated a bit. We added four Chesapeake Bay oysters at $3 apiece. They usually have both Blue Point and Misty Point on offer. If these aren’t available, they’ll substitute the freshest ones their fishmonger has. The oysters arrived on a bed of ice with three sauces: cocktail, mignonette and freshly grated horseradish. We were sated without these.
We were all pretty full but we love 315’s chocolate pot de crème ($10) and had to order it. But, we split the ample portion four ways. At $2.50 per person, it was a bargain. With oysters and dessert the food came to $12.50 per person. A bargain for the feast we had! As our friend Bill remarked, sated after his dinner, “It’s way too much for two people.”
Mixing it up
We contemplated deviating from the bar menu and ordering the spring special- soft shell crabs ($16) or the seasonal signature squash blossom beignet ($15), but we stuck to our original plan eating five dishes off the bar menu. We wanted to test our theory that four could be comfortably full on five dishes. But, you can play with the menu a bit and mix in appetizers from the dinner menu. At $8 each for the bar food and $16 or less for appetizers from the dinner menu, two light to normal eaters can and be satisfied for less than $35. Three or even four diners, depending on your appetites, can dine from the bar menu for $35. Our dinner without drinks came to $8.50 a person without drinks. The regular dinner menu is also available in the bar. If dine with a group where some prefer to eat from the bar menu and others from the dinner menu, you can. Everyone can be happy!
We proved our theory
Four can eat for $35. The wild card that can affect your bill: what you drink. If you stick to water and the $8 bar food menu, two to four people can emerge with a bill that is $35 or under without tax, tip and drinks. But, most will probably opt for a glass or two of wine from the extensive list or a cocktail or perhaps a cocktail from the bar. The choice is yours. The good news: it’s possible to have a really good, not fast-food, not burger or pizza dinner in The City Different for a reasonable price. Our conclusion: 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar offers one the best dining deals in Santa Fe.