New Mexico Fine Dining – the new kid on the block

The restaurant scene in Santa Fe is like a revolving door. Sometimes really hard to keep up with the hectic pace of change. A few months ago we heard a rumor about New Mexico Fine Dining, a new restaurant group reported to have four restaurants in its portfolio. We heard that Charles Dale, chef/owner of Bouche Bistro was the man to talk to. We caught up with him a while back and he gave us the scoop.

The people behind New Mexico Fine Dining

Bouche Chef Charles Dale of New Mexico Fine Dining, photo/courtesy of Charles Dale

Bouche Chef Charles Dale of New Mexico Fine Dining, photo/courtesy of Charles Dale

Successful San Antonio couple, Jimmy and Jennifer Day, has been coming to Santa Fe for over over 15 years and have lived here for almost a decade. They’ve put down roots in the city. Both are food lovers; getting into the restaurant business was a logical step. And for them, owning four made more sense that owning one so they plunged right in. They first acquired the former Bobcat Bite on Old Las Vegas highway. Then they added Galisteo Bistro and approached Dale; they wanted him to oversee the restaurant group. Dale, excited at the possibilities of expanding his culinary wings (he’s been committed to French bistro food for over four years), was interested; Bouche became part of New Mexico Fine Dining.

In 2008 Charles Dale came to Santa Fe from Aspen to be Executive Chef at Terra, at the Auberge Resort’s Encantado Resort. He had owned several highly regarded restaurants in Aspen. When Four Seasons acquired Encantado in 2012, Dale left. He wanted his own restaurant again. Bouche opened in early 2013. He had, what many might call, an unconventional upbringing. Born in Nice, he grew up in Monaco. His father was a diplomat so Dale got to meet many of the jet setters of the mid-60s. Grace Kelly was his sister’s godmother. He apprenticed in New York City kitchens working with legendary chefs including Alain Sailhac, Jean-Claude Szurdak, Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse and Jacques Pepin.

The Restaurants

Bouche Bistro

Bouche Bistro, now part of New Mexico Fine Dining, photo Steve Collins

Bouche Bistro, now part of New Mexico Fine Dining, photo/Steve Collins

Bouche Bistro, New Mexico Fine Dining’s flagstaff restaurant, will remain exactly as it is. Why mess with a good thing? Bouche has been busy from Day One. Offering delicious food, great ambiance, competent service and well-priced for the quality of the food and dining experience, offering a taste of Paris in Santa Fe.

A Mano

New Mexico Fine Dining - Will A Mano keep Galisteo Bistro's brick wood-fired ovem? We hope so! photo Steve Collins

Will A Mano keep Galisteo Bistro’s brick wood-fired oven? We hope so! photo Steve Collins

What better name for a restaurant that will serve handcrafted Italian food than A Mano? The new restaurant is located at 227 Galisteo Street, in the space formerly home to Galisteo Bistro. “I’ve always wanted to do an Italian restaurant,” Dale shared. A Mano gives him the perfect opportunity  to do this. He hopes to have the restaurant, currently undergoing renovations, open in early fall.

Maize

New Mexico Fine Dining - Georgia's bar and patio will remain open this summer, photo Steve Collins

Georgia’s bar and patio will remain open this summer, photo/Steve Collins

Georgia, named for Georgia O’Keeffe, will be gone. In its place: an eatery with a menu designed around Southwestern culinary influences, something Dale says he’s been playing around with in his mind for a while. Maize, the new eatery, will highlight the indigenous foods of the Americas. In addition to corn, squash and beans (the staples of New Mexico’s indigenous peoples, known as “Three Sisters”), the menu will include indigenous foods from South and Central America. Dale sees Maize as “an opportunity to take a fresh look at Southwestern regional cooking.” We’ll have to wait and see what these ideas morph into when Maize opens its doors sometime after Labor Day. Dale is excited that the current chef, Leroy Alvarado, whose ancestry is part Navajo and part Mexican, will remain at the restaurant. Georgia’s patio and bar will remain open this summer.

Bobcat Bite

New Mexico Fine Dining - The old Bobcat Bite to undergo major transformation, photo Steve Collins

The old Bobcat Bite to undergo major transformation, photo/Steve Collins

Bobcat Bite, on Old Las Vegas Highway about 15 minutes from downtown Santa Fe, closed in 2013. It’s sat empty ever since. It’s a bit sad to drive by the formerly bustling parking lot and see empty dirt surrounded by a chain-link fence. The Days plan to maintain the essence of the iconic burger joint that had welcomed diners, under different owners, since 1953. The original restaurant, which seated about two dozen, will serve as the entry to the new dining room which they’re adding to the back of the original building. The resulting 4,300 square feet will seat over 70. They’re adding a big kitchen allowing catering for large events.

The old counter, where a handful of diners sat on stools, will become the bar. Bobcat, which used to be dry, will have full liquor service. In the spirit of the original Bobcat Bites, the jumping-off point for the new menu will be green chile cheeseburgers. The Day’s New Mexico ranch will supply grass-fed beef which will be butchered onsite. You can’t get any fresher than that. The rest of the menu will feature what Dale calls “American comfort food” with casual ambiance. They envision Bobcat as a neighborhood restaurant; perhaps, like Cheers, everyone will know your name. There’s a lot of time between now and the projected opening in 2018 for the concept to evolve.

The revamping and recreating of three local restaurants is an exciting prospect for the thriving Santa Fe dining scene. What will New Mexico Fine Dining bring to the table? Only time will tell.

3 Responses to “New Mexico Fine Dining – the new kid on the block”

  1. Ryan Biddulph
    August 16, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    Super interesting scene developing here Billie. Tomorrow we will be back near your stomping grounds on our house sit in NYC. I think of the literally hundreds of eateries in the neighborhood or a little beyond and forget how some parts of the country have such a different scene. I dig how it is burgeoning and goodness the Bobcat Bite would be a fun place to visit when it opens. Seeing it screams “Better Call Saul”, from its decor to overall feel of the image.
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted..How To Pick A Blogging NicheMy Profile

    • Billie Frank
      August 16, 2017 at 12:19 pm #

      NYC was my very old stomping grounds. Today it’s mostly Santa Fe. If you ever get out here ask me for restaurant recommendations- I’ll steer you to the right places for you!

    • Billie Frank
      August 21, 2017 at 12:14 pm #

      Hope you get out here to visit and experience Santa Fe’s diverse food scene!

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