What is the recipe for a successful restaurant? For us it boils down to three things (in the order of importance): a passionate chef with a motivated kitchen crew turning out consistently delicious food; knowledgeable, attentive and efficient service and lastly, the ambiance. While we appreciate ambiance, we’ll go back to a restaurant with good food and service with a so/so physical presence. We’ll return to a great restaurant with somewhat mediocre service; bad service is a deal-breaker no matter how good the food. The Anasazi Restaurant, Bar and Lounge at Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi hits all the marks and makes great cocktails to boot.
We were sad to hear that Chef Juan Bochenski was leaving the Anasazi Restaurant. He was a favorite of ours and a hard act to follow. We were were excited to hear about their new chef, Edgar Beas, who had been chef de cuisine at the one Michelin-starred Madera Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park. We wined and dined as guests of the Anasazi Restaurant, Bar and Lounge a few weeks ago.
A restaurant’s food is only as good as its chef and kitchen crew. Beas, who arrived at the Anasazi Restaurant last spring, is a passionate culinarian committed to sustainable and locally sourced ingredients. For us, farm-to-table is more than a trendy phrase or current fad. We’re committed to including as much locally grown and sourced food as we can in our diet. It’s important to us to know who is growing our food. We love Chef Edgar’s commitment to fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Just months after his arrival, he’s already developed relationships with over 15 local farms and buys directly from them seasonally. He is also likes to use locally foraged foods. The evening we ate at the Anasazi Restaurant local morels, foraged by 5 Star Mushrooms, graced a scallop dish along with baby fiddlehead ferns. The heirloom tomatoes in a beautiful and tasty salad were sources from Growing Opportunities in Velarde, the same hydroponic grower we buy our tomatoes from at the Santa Fe Farmers Market.
His interest in food started at a young age. His forays into cooking began in his mother’s kitchen. His father helped cement his love for it. “When we would go out to dinner, my father would take me into the kitchens of restaurants and I would observe and help out,” he shares. “I rapidly started to feel a passion and an understanding of how artistic cooking is.”
We love this young chef’s commitment to food. When asked his overall food philosophy her replied, “It’s important to have an appreciation and respect for our local ingredients and partner with local farmers. I believe that utilizing ingredients from in and around Santa Fe is a beautiful way to celebrate the Southwest and reaffirm the Anasazi Restaurant’s reputation as the premier destination for fresh, local cuisine. I aim to showcase native techniques and cooking styles, but in a modern way.” He’s off to a great start! His menus will change seasonally to reflect what’s available from area growers.
Start with a cocktail
Start your evening with a drink in their new lounge, opened last year. Anasazi Bar has long been a popular spot for locals, but until addition of the new lounge, a buffer zone between the bar and dining room, the intimate bar was unable to accommodate more than a few folks at a time. Choose one of the tables, sit at the community tequila tasting table or opt for one of the conversation areas. The extensive specialty cocktail list offers some interesting options. The new signature Silver Dragon cocktail, celebrating the inn’s 25th anniversary was a winner, combining Casa Dragones Blanca tequila, Cointreau peach liqueur and Om’s (Organic Mixology) Meyer Lemon & Ginger Liqueur created by Santa Fe’s Liquid Muse Natalie Bovis.
For nibbles, they serve complimentary chicharrones (fried port skins) and spicy peanuts are served with drinks. If you’re not planning to have dinner at the Anasazi Restaurant and want a bite to eat with your libations, order from the bar’s Para Picar menu. You can also order off the dinner menu. Monday through Thursday from 3 to 6pm the lounge offers Social Hour with half-priced wines and beers and and a Social Hour menu.
On to dinner in the Anasazi Restaurant
The dining room at the Anasazi Restaurant is tastefully decorated. Lighting is low, yet with enough light that you can read the menu. We love the wall mural by Santa Fe-based Navajo artist, Armond Lara. Leslie, our server, who’s been there for years, is knowledgable, friendly and competent. The menu is filled with tempting dishes. Something may jump out at you as scallops and lamb did for me, I went with the scallops.
Steve asked Chef Edgar what he recommended and he suggested the Pulpo a la Plancha; pulpo which translates to octopus cooked on a flat griddle. He loved it. Chef Edgar really wanted us to try his Hand Rolled Cavatelli so he surprised us with an order to share. The tender cavatelli sat atop a rich demi-glace enhanced venison ragout made with the wonderful heirloom tomatoes from Growing Opportunities. Summer truffles shaved on top completed the dish. We’re glad he sent it out!
The Grand finale
We love a bit of sweet at the end of a meal. The dessert menu, while short, has some excellent choices including hazelnut gateau (which we shared), an upscale version of S’mores, strawberry cheesecake. Want something a bit lighter? Try the churros or the yogurt parfait. There’s also an artisanal cheese plate.
If you don’t want an elaborate dinner dine in the lounge or, in warmer weather, on the patio with its great people-watching opportunities.
Chef Edgar Beas’ culinary passion and expertise is a welcome addition to the Santa Fe dining scene. Thank you Anasazi Restaurant; your thoughtful choice of a new chef was spot-on!