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The Spot Cafe – Corrales, New Mexico

The Spot Cafe in Corrales, New Mexico

Big Bang Theory wunderkind Sheldon Cooper has a spot he describes as the “singular location in space around which revolves my entire universe.”  That spot is the left side of his couch, a location he has placed “in a state of eternal dibs.”  In scientific terms, Sheldon relates his spot as “a single point of consistency in an ever-changing world.”  His attachment to that one spot borders on obsession, but he’s not the only television character that possessive of his spot.

In television comedies, characters have always had their favorite spots and show little tolerance for anybody who tries to sit in them.  Cheers barflies Norm Peterson and Cliff Claivin had their favorite bar stools.  Jerry Seinfeld, George Costanza and Cosmo Kramer always sat at their favorite table at Monk’s Diner.  Heaven help anyone who sat on Archie Bunker’s favorite chair, the most famous and only one of the aforementioned spots on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Interior of the Spot Cafe

Television personalities are often based on and mimic real life characters.  As such, it will be interesting to see what Corrales resident will develop an attachment to a favorite spot at its newest eatery (as of May, 2014), fittingly named The Spot.  That’s an appropriate appellation for a cafe which promises to be a very popular gathering spot in the heart of the village.  The Spot opened its doors in May, 2014 and is open for breakfast and lunch every day but Tuesday from 7AM until 3PM. 

The Spot occupies the spot previously held by the Oasis Cafe within the Village Plaza, an 11,000 square-foot complex just north of the Corrales fire station.  At the help are Aaron and Deb Worrell, veteran restaurateurs with more than two decades in the industry.  In addition to The Spot, the couple own and operate two Aaron’s Sandwich Time restaurants in the Duke City.  It goes without saying, therefore, that sandwiches are part and parcel of the cafe’s menu.

Milk Shakes made from Blue Bell Ice Cream

Interestingly, the cafe’s ambiance bespeaks fine dining with linen tablecloths, cloth napkins and table service but the menu is more akin to an over-the-counter operation with an emphasis on contemporary comfort food at great prices. It’s an inviting menu both during breakfast and lunch.  Start the morning off with build-your-own omelets, panini-stuffed French toast, breakfast sandwiches and a nice line-up of breakfast burritos.  Sandwiches and burgers highlight the lunch menu, but no ordinary burgers are these.  A one-half pound Angus beef burger is available with your choice of toppings and is prepared to your exacting specifications.

Reason enough to visit The Spot are the housemade milk shakes made from Blue Bell ice cream, arguably the best ice cream in America.  When we moved from Mississippi to Albuquerque, Blue Bell ice cream was what we missed most–even more than blackened redfish and oysters.  The Spot’s milk shakes remind us why.  The Dutch Chocolate milk shake is rich and creamy with an adult dark chocolate flavor and a decadent fudge swirl.  The Spot offers a number of different Blue Bell flavors, all on display in a freezer.  You’ll want to try them all.

Green Chile Steak Melt with Sweet Potato Fries

10 May 2014: Over the years, my friends and I have, like Indiana Jones in pursuit of historical treasure, trekked throughout the city in pursuit of the best green chile Philly.  Only a handful (the very best being from Itsa Italian Ice) meet our exceedingly high standards.  The Spot’s green chile steak melt ranks right up there with them.  It’s a sandwich Philadelphia would be proud to call its own.   This gem of a sandwich is constructed from very high quality ingredients: tri-tip steak, a full-flavored, low fat content cut of steak; red, green and yellow peppers; caramelized onions and plenty of New Mexico green chile on your choice of bun (including one impregnated with green chile).

10 May 2014: Half-pound Angus burgers, with your choice of toppings, are sure to please the most discerning of burgerphiles.  The list of toppings options truly allows you to have it your way.  My way was with green chile, bacon and cheese along with the standard toppings of lettuce and tomato.  Not surprisingly, the Angus beef patty is very flavorful courtesy of nicely marbled beef prepared at a juicy medium.  Served on a green chile bun, this burger warrants further exploration with different toppings.  It’s a good one.

“Kobe” Burger with Baked Beans

10 May 2014: Sandwiches and burgers are available with a number of sides including sweet potato fries and baked beans.  The baked beans are terrific, so good I wiped them out before even trying the burger.  Unlike far too many baked beans, these are not candy cloying, but have a depth of flavors that’s very enjoyable and which might transport you to memories of barbecues.  The sweet potato fries are also quite good.

13 July 2014: When my friend Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the perspicacious palate, declared The Spot’s biscuits and gravy “the best I have ever had.  Anyplace.  Perfection,” it created a dilemma for me.  Biscuits and gravy border on traumatizing, the result of having been subjected in Air Force cafeterias to absolutely horrible renditions of this popular Southern breakfast staple.   On the other hand, when Larry is as passionate about a dish as he is The Spot’s biscuits and gravy, you’re well advised to try it…and soon.

Biscuits and Gravy–quite possibly the best in New Mexico (if not the universe)

13 July 2014: Biscuits and gravy combine various textures and flavors into each bite, making it a deliciously diverse, palate pleasing breakfast entree. Crumbled sausage links enliven the flavor of a tasty milk, flour and butter-based gravy served over three split biscuits topped with two eggs made the way you want them. The fluffy, steamy interior of the split biscuits coupled with the sturdy biscuit exterior are a perfect repository for the smooth, delicious body of the sausage gravy.  The eggs (Larry likes them over-easy) blanket the biscuits and provide runny yoke deliciousness.  This dish is served on a “too hot to handle” skillet.

13 July 2014: While the standard breakfast menu includes waffles, there’s just something special about the combination of chicken and waffles.  It’s a combination which has become increasingly popular in the Food Network age.  Several Duke City restaurants serve fairly standard versions.  The Spot stands out for its unique take on this Belgian culinary specialty.  To truly appreciate this entree, available with or without bones, ask for the honey-BBQ glaze instead of the standard waffle syrup.  The honey-BBQ glaze is reminiscent of sauces used on Asian dishes–not the sweet and sour type of sauce, but the sauces which impart proportionate measures of sweet, savory and tart flavors.  It’s probably not everybody’s cup of sauce, but adventurous types will enjoy it. The chicken itself is perfectly fried with a golden crust.

Chicken and Waffles

In time, The Spot Cafe promises an even more inviting menu, one replete with comfort food favorites diners will appreciate. This is a restaurant which just might become your spot.

The Spot Cafe
4940 Corrales Road
Corrales, New Mexico
(505) 899-7768
Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT:  13 July 2014
1st VISIT: 10 May 2014
COST: $ – $$
BEST BET: Wagyu Burger, Baked Beans, Chile Melt, Sweet Potato Fries, Milk Shakes, Chicken and Waffles, Biscuits and Gravy

The Spot Cafe on Urbanspoon

Hannah & Nate’s – Albuquerque & Corrales, New Mexico

The original Hannah & Nate’s on Riverside Plaza in Albuquerque’s West Side

There are just some restaurants at which the stereotypical Ralph Cramden hungry man shouldn’t dine. Hannah & Nate’s is one of them. It’s not that the food isn’t good. That’s certainly not the case.  It’s just that  it’s part of the troglodytic nature  of men to whine and complain when we have to wait more than two minutes for our meals and we become doubly obnoxious when the portions aren’t large enough to feed a small bull elephant. Thankfully, my Kim has been a great civilizing influence on me and I’m able to enjoy restaurants such as Hannah & Nate’s as much as she does.

Hannah & Nate’s is a home decor and market cafe ideally suited for gentrified ladies with a lot of leisure time on their hands. It’s not a restaurant at which a boorish lout will sit patiently then be satisfied with what he would consider “finger foods.” Take for example the “beef & bleu” sandwich featuring sliced roast beef, caramelized onion and sautéed mushrooms topped with bleu cheese on grilled sourdough. It’s not four inches thick the way such men would want it and the bleu cheese isn’t powerful enough to give them the belch inducing halitosis powerful enough to clear a room.

Tuscan Meatloaf Sandwich:  Rustic Tuscan Meatloaf topped with caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, and jack cheese, Served on a grilled baguette (add Green Chile for only $.99)

Launched in 2002, Hannah & Nate’s is ensconced within the Riverside Plaza, a mixed-use development with convenient access from both Montano and Coors.  The plaza’s charming campus-like environment seems tailor-made for the home decor and market cafe which is named for the children of Beth and Phil Salazar.  Phil manages the food operations side of the business while Beth manages the decor operations.  The cafe is open from 8AM to 2PM while the home decor  operation remains open until 5:30.

The ambitious full-service breakfast menu belies the relatively small (call it comfy cozy) dining room which tends to get quite busy.  Many eyes are drawn immediately to the menu section entitled “Local Flavor” for Hannah & Nate’s take on New Mexican breakfast favorites such as huevos rancheros, breakfast enchiladas, breakfast quesadillas and the intriguing Eggs Benedict de Nuevo Mexico (two poached eggs served on top of an English muffin smothered with homemade carne adovada and melted Cheddar cheese.  This is the favorite breakfast entree of my learned friend Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the perspicacious palate.

Rio Grande Turkey: Sliced Breast of Turkey, avocado, and green chile, topped with jack cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes, served on grilled sourdough and green chile stew

More traditional eggs Benedict dishes are also available on the “Traditional Favorites” section of the menu where you’ll also find quiche and sourdough French toast.  A number of breakfast burritos and omelets are also available for the most important meal of the day.  The lunch menu is apportioned into several sections: Appetizers, Sandwich Board, Garden Fresh Salads, New Mexican Food Favorites, “Hot” From the Grill and The “Lite” Side (a half-sandwich with your choice of potato salad, fresh fruit, side salad or cup of green chile stew).

Lunch enjoyment might start with the carne adovada crisp, a quesadilla in which crisp flour tortillas envelope lean pork marinated in red chile and melted cheese. Why more quesadillas don’t feature carne adovada is beyond me, but even if they did, it’s doubtful they can duplicate this artfully crafted appetizer. Although the red chile isn’t especially hot, it’s very flavorful with a garlicky taste which complements the rich red chile.

In the spring of 2006, Hannah & Nate's Market Cafe launched its second restaurant, this time in Corrales.

In the spring of 2006, Hannah & Nate’s Market Cafe launched its second restaurant, this time in Corrales.

Among the many hot-off-the-grill sandwiches we’ve enjoyed from the sandwich board are:

  • Nate’s Melt (sliced beef roast, green chile, red peppers, caramelized onions, avocado and cheddar on grilled sourdough bread) in which the green chile has that pronounced roasted green chile aroma and taste New Mexicans love as much as life itself. This is an outstanding sandwich!
  • Tuscan Meatloaf Sandwich (rustic Tuscan meatloaf topped with caramelized onion, roasted red peppers and Jack cheese served on a grilled baguette). This is meatloaf at its comfort food best, the type your mother made for you as a child.  The meatloaf isn’t overly thick which means you’ll actually taste the other ingredients, a harmonious mix of complementary toppings.
  • New Mexico BLT (crispy bacon, fresh tomato, roasted green chile and lettuce on grilled sourdough bread). This isn’t the boring BLT you make at home. The bacon has a smoky taste; the sourdough bread a buttery, grilled texture; and neither the L or the T dominate as they’re apt to do.
Carne Adovada with a fried egg

Carne Adovada Breakfast Enchiladas:
3 Stacked enchiladas, stuffed with carne adovada, topped with red or green chile, cheddar cheese and 2 eggs any style, served with a side of hash browns and tortilla

All sandwiches and grilled items are served with your choice of homemade potato salad (a  boring celery and dill pickle based potato salad that is the only thing we haven’t liked at Hannah & Nate’s), fresh fruit or ridged potato chips. Invariably, the fresh fruit seems to be in season no matter the time of year. We’ve had watermelon in November and it had a fresh flavor. The chips are always crisp and fresh and thankfully not the “bottom of the bag” bits some restaurants serve.  Eschew these sides altogether and ask for a cup of green chile stew.  It’s served warm and has a nice piquant bite of green chile complemented with just enough Mexican oregano.

For an additional two bits, make sure you ask for one of the five (chipotle, cucumber dill, cranberry, herb, olive) specialty mayonnaise offered. Even though the sandwiches don’t need any additional accoutrement whatsoever, the mayonnaise can be used as a dip for your chips.  The chipotle mayo and the cucumber dill (similar to the Greek tzadziki sauce but maybe even better) are our early favorites.

Steak burrito

Steak & Egg Burrito

Corrales Addition: In the spring of 2006, Hannah & Nate’s Market Shop launched a second Albuquerque area restaurant, this one in the former site of the very popular Calico Cafe which burnt down in 2004. If anything, the Corrales version of Hannah & Nate’s is even better than the Riverside Plaza restaurant.

For one thing, the Corrales restaurant has a full breakfast menu–three pages of traditional and New Mexican favorites. My early favorite would have to be the steak and egg burrito served Christmas style (red and green chile).  This burrito is engorged with three eggs, sautéed onions, roasted red peppers, cubed potatoes and steak–not a cheap cut of meat either, but grilled top sirloin. This is an excellent breakfast burrito made with high-quality ingredients and served hot.  Both the red and green chile at Hannah & Nate’s are very good with a slight nod going to the red chile which is almost burgundy in color and which possesses the rare earthiness I love in red chile. 

Breakfast Enchiladas with two fried eggs

Breakfast Enchiladas with two fried eggs

For my Kim, carne adovada is the standard-bearer against which she measures just how good a New Mexican restaurant is.  To her consternation, some restaurants which don’t use cumin on anything else (for some inexplicable reason) add it to carne adovada, bringing about the ruination of a delicate dish which requires no amelioration.  Hannah & Nate’s carne adovada is among her very favorites, especially when served on the carne adovada breakfast enchiladas plate: three stacked enchiladas stuffed with carne adovada and topped with red or green chile, Cheddar cheese and two eggs any style served with a side of hash browns and a tortilla.  If a breakfast dish can foretell a good day, this one will do it.  The carne is porcine perfection as tender as a mother’s love, marinated in chile that doesn’t shy away from its heat. 

There are a couple of perspectives about huevos rancheros. The “glass is half empty” perspective is that huevos ranchers are a rather uncomplicated dish constructed from a limited number of ingredients. Glass half full folks rave that having few ingredients allows those ingredients to shine.  At its essence, huevos rancheros are little more than eggs, corn tortillas, Cheddar cheese and your choice of red or green chile.  Both the red and green chile at Hannah & Nate’s are top tier, some of the best in the metropolitan area.  The corn tortillas have a pronounced corn taste, are relatively grease-free and are fried perfectly.  The eggs are prepared to your exacting specifications and have a farm-fresh flavor.  Count me among the glass half full folks.  Count the huevos rancheros at Hannah & Nate’s among the very best in the area.

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros

Hannah & Nate’s also features a daily special and if the market smoked porchetta is any indication, the specials are indeed special. Porchetta generally refers to a boneless, rolled roast of pork studded with garlic and herbs.  Hannah & Nate’s takes the pork and stuffs it into a baguette then tops it with a roasted garlic aioli, green onion marmalade, sage and tomato. The flavor combinations are sensational!  

Hannah & Nate’s doesn’t have a long line-up of desserts (muffins, chocolate brownies), but who needs more options when you’ve got cranberry bread pudding.  It’s not on Larry McGoldrick’s Bread Pudding Hall of Fame, but it could be the professor with the perspicacious palate hasn’t tried this bread pudding.  Quite simply, it borders on spectacular, providing a balance of flavors most bread pudding can’t approach.  The tangy cranberries and savory almond shavings temper the sweetness of the sweet sauce surrounding the soft, spongy bread.  

Cranberry Bread Pudding

Cranberry Bread Pudding

Another plus in favor of the Corrales restaurant is its patio which allows you to watch expensive cars drive by while you dine under a sun-lit sky. During the winter months, sitting indoors and enjoying the fireplace is nearly as nice.

Hannah & Nate’s
6251 Riverside Plaza, NW
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 922-1155
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 26 April 2014
COST: $$
BEST BET: Carne Adovada Crisp, Nate’s Melt, Market Smoked Porchetta, New Mexico BLT, Tuscan Meatloaf Sandwich, Steak & Egg Burrito, Cranberry Bread Pudding, Huevos Rancheros

View Hannah & Nate’s Market Cafe on »

Hannah & Nate's Place on Urbanspoon

Indigo Crow Cafe – Corrales, New Mexico

The Indigo Crow on a moonlit spring night

The Indigo Crow on a moonlit spring night

Now I lay myself down to sleep
I pray oh lord my soul to keep
Cause if I should die before I wake
I hope up in Heaven they’ve got lobster and steak
It’s a sin if Heaven ain’t got an Indigo Crow
Best food down here up there they’ve gotta know.
A Sin if Heaven ain’t got an Indigo Crow
But if they don’t then why the hell should I go.

Now I’ve tried every joint around here
I’ve had green chile stew, I’ve had had my root beer
But when I want to treat my taste buds right
I know this place is drop-dead tight
It’s a sin if Heaven ain’t got an Indigo Crow
Best food down here up there they gotta know.

- Oscar Butler

What would possess troubadour Oscar Butler to rhapsodize in his inimitable melodious timbre about a charming rural retreat in Corrales, New Mexico which serves some of the very best food in the metropolitan Duke City area?  A native New Yorker now living in Albuquerque, Butler sums it up in four words, “Great food, great atmosphere!”

    The Indigo Crow's garlic infused bread and an olive oil dip with several herbs and spices

The Indigo Crow’s garlic infused bread and an olive oil dip with several herbs and spices

There’s a lot to love about the Indigo Crow and it starts with ambiance (atmosphere, if you prefer).  During a moonlit autumn or spring night, savvy diners will dine on the restaurant’s patio where very little light pollution interferes with the twinkling of celestial bodies punctuating the ebony night skies.  When spring is in the air and trees are starting to bloom, the melodic songs of birds provide nature’s best entertainment.  When the weather turns cold, a raised fire pit is set up on the patio and though plumes of smoke ascending toward the skies obscure the stars, the fragrant bouquet of piñon more than makes up for it.

Ambiance isn’t lost on the inside of the restaurant, especially on cold winter nights when the restaurant is dimly lit and the crackling firewood on the Kiva hearth provides a gavotte of light and shadows.  It’s especially memorable if you have the occasion to be seated across the restaurant from Marla Tellez, KOB’s pulchritudinous former morning anchor whose smiling countenance and beauty are accentuated by the undulating lights of the fireplace.  A January, 2010 visit to the Indigo Crow was made more memorable because I was fortunate enough to have been seated with just that perfect vantage point.

Gorgonzola Wedge: iceberg lettuce, bacon, tomatoes, marinated red onions, creamy Gorgonzola dressing

Gorgonzola Wedge:
iceberg lettuce, bacon, tomatoes, marinated red onions, creamy Gorgonzola dressing

Ms. Tellez and the aforementioned Mr. Butler aren’t the only local celebrities who love the Indigo Crow.  KRQE’s manic meteorologist Mark Ronchetti revealed in the 2009 edition of Albuquerque The Magazine’s “Best of the City” magazine that his favorite restaurant is Indigo Crow.  Tending to be more star-struck by food than television personalities, I’d better not think much more about the beauteous Marla Tellez or I might never finish this review.

The Indigo Crow is nestled beneath towering deciduous trees in what was once a family home which also housed the Desert Rose, one of the village’s most popular restaurants back in the early to mid-1990s. The Indigo Crow has been wowing patrons for more than a decade now and despite the economic downturn, there appears to be no surcease to its popularity. This is a restaurant for which reservations are definitely recommended, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights, but even if you don’t make a reservation, the staff will do their best to accommodate you.

Skewers of orange glazed beef with sesame seeds and a tangy teriyaki sauce

Skewers of orange glazed beef with sesame seeds and a tangy teriyaki sauce

That may mean eating at the bar which is in close proximity to a kiva fireplace, something for which you might  be thankful on winter nights because most diners enter through the bar.  The bar is reputed to have a very good wine list, one worthy of the food destined to accompany the fruit of the vin.  During the summer, the Indigo Crow offers live music on the patio featuring local musicians like the aforementioned Oscar Butler.  During the winter, the restaurant features acoustic solo artists at the bar.

Since the Crow’s menu tends to be seasonal, ingredients also tend to be incomparably fresh. No vegetable is served before or after its time; they’re all served at the optimum of in-season freshness. Even avowed vegetable haters can be converted at the Indigo Crow. Salad lovers will appreciate the nine salads on the menu, especially if you want a back to basics salad that doesn’t include every ingredient conceivable.  There’s plenty to love on the Gorgonzola Wedge (iceberg lettuce, bacon, tomatoes, marinated red onions and creamy Gorgonzola dressing).  On most restaurant’s menus, it would probably be the most popular salad, but at Indigo Crow, that honor goes to The Catalina (chopped romaine, tomatoes, eggs, bacon, avocado, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, Louie dressing), the chef’s unique interpretation of a Cobb salad.  It’s a beautifully presented masterpiece prepared in a large bowl then shaped in a circular timbale to give it a memorable and enticing appeal.  Half and full portions are available.


Grilled Ham and Smoke Gouda Sandwich:
grilled ham, smoked Gouda with jalapeno Dijon mustard, lettuce and tomatoes on a french baguette

Our favorite appetizer when on the menu is the Crow’s rendition of satay, the popular Thai street food which is essentially marinated meat skewered onto bamboo sticks and grilled over an open flame.  At some local Thai restaurants, the grilled meat is so thin that the grilling dries it, leaving it chewy and tasteless.  The Crow’s satay is somewhat thicker and grilled to about medium, imparting it with a moist deliciousness.  A nearly as terrific lunch-time alternative sometimes on the menu is an orange glazed beef with sesame seeds and a tangy teriyaki sauce. 

The lunch menu showcases a number of sandwiches, wraps and burgers, none of which are the standard “you can make it at home” variety.  Most of us can craft a fairly decent  grilled ham and cheese sandwich.  It takes genius to craft something like the grilled ham and smoked Gouda sandwich (grilled ham, smoked Gouda, jalapeño mustard, lettuce and tomatoes on a French baguette).  The jalapeño mustard is nearly as incendiary as Chinese hot mustard, lending a delicious kick that counterbalances the saltiness of the grilled ham, the sweet creaminess of the Gouda and the acidity of the tomatoes.

Chefs Hobo Burger green chile cheddar cheese kaiser, portobello mushroom, bacon, smoked Gouda cheese and guacamole

Chefs Hobo Burger
green chile cheddar cheese kaiser, portobello mushroom, bacon, smoked Gouda cheese and guacamole

My friend Larry McGoldrick, the esteemed professor with the perspicacious palate, rates the Indigo Crow’s green chile cheeseburger as one of New Mexico’s top ten.  For uniformity of comparison, he orders his burgers “competition style” meaning bun, patty, cheese and green chile only; no adulterants or contaminants.  Alas, my good intentions to try a plain green chile cheeseburger were quashed by the Chefs Hobo Burger, the very antithesis of competition style.  The canvas for this behemoth burger is a thick green chile Cheddar cheese kaiser roll in which both green chile and Cheddar are baked right onto the bun (which would make a great dinner bread on its own).   As with Hobo stew which is made with virtually any ingredient you can find, the Hobo Burger is a virtual mishmash of ingredients inventively put together.  Standard offerings are portobello mushroom, bacon, smoked Gouda and guacamole.  Green chile isn’t a standard ingredient on the burger unless you request it.    It’s a unique take on a green chile cheeseburger and is large enough for two to share. 

The dinner menu  includes a surprising number of seafood items, the hallmark of each being uncommon freshness. You may forget you’re in land-locked New Mexico when your palate is luxuriating on the very best mussels anywhere in the Land of Enchantment.  There was a time, just a few years ago, in which a bowl of mussels at the Indigo Crow was big enough for a party of four to share.  During a visit in January, 2010, our serving of this magnificent mollusk was miniscule, a penurious portion of twelve mussels, just enough for three a piece among the four of us.  The mussels were submerged in a saffron and white wine sauce which by itself would have made a superb soup.


The Indigo Crow’s version of Moules Frite (Mussels and Fries)

Though we felt deprived of the briny sweetness of the mussels, we indulged lustily in the perfume-like essence of fragrant saffron sauce which we sopped up with the Indigo Crow’s wonderful garlic-infused bread. Tiny cloves of roasted garlic were actually embedded in the yeasty, oven-warm bread, a perfect complement for the sauce. An olive oil dip resplendent with fresh herbs, red pepper flakes and garlic proved an excellent complement for the more tempered saffron sauce. The Crow’s bread is among the very best in New Mexico and it’s replenished faithfully by the always attentive wait staff.

The mussels are served with perfectly salted shoestring fries, perhaps an Indigo Crow tribute to the French favorite Moules Frite (mussels and fries).  The shoestring fries, as thin as the name suggests, straddle that fine line between crispy like a potato chip and just soft and pliable enough to be considered fries.  They are delicious, particularly when dipped in whatever saffron sauce you may want to allocate to these waifishly thin fries.

Grilled rack of lamb

Grilled rack of lamb

Another certain to satisfy seafood starter you will savor are the chipotle clams, delicious bivalved mollusks in a white wine, sun-dried tomato and chipotle broth.  As with the mussels, the bowl isn’t exactly brimming with a profusion of clams, but the flavor combinations–smoky and slightly piquant chipotle, acidic and rich tomato, sea-savory clams–go so well together, you’ll relish each and every bite, all the while wishing there were more.

The Indigo Crow incorporates seafood in several pasta entrees, one of our favorites being the lobster ravioli, an open face ravioli with a three cheese (Mascarpone, Asiago, Parmesan) triumvirate (four if you count the ricotta filling), spicy lobster cream sauce, fresh slipper lobster tail, and lobster claw meat. It’s a plate-licking concoction that melds piquant, sweet and creamy flavors and textures, not to mention the richness and utter sea spawned deliciousness of lobster. As much as you may want to ravage this ravioli, take your time because there’s not a lot of it.  (I have a theory that all my favorite Indigo Crow entrees are in smallish portions just to keep me wanting more.)

Seared scallops and shrimp (herbed truffle butter)

Seared scallops and shrimp (herbed truffle butter)

If your lobster lust isn’t sated by the lobster ravioli, Indigo Crow’ summer menu has offered a bucket of five slipper lobster tails served with garlic butter and spicy fries. Slipper lobster meat is almost pearly white in color and has a sweeter taste than regular rock lobsters.  Slipper lobsters are fairly uncommon, some say even rare, and tend to be used mostly in soups such as bouillabaisse.  Interestingly, the French refer to them as “sea cicadas” because the sound the slipper lobster makes when it cracks its claws sounds like the chirping of the cicada, an insect with which New Mexicans are well acquainted.

Carnivorous types will love the Lolly Pop Pork Chops grilled and served with a raspberry chipotle sauce, garlic mashed potatoes and the sweetest snap peas you’ve ever had. Despite the name, those pork chops are formidable–almost an inch thick and as tender as any pork chops you’ll find anywhere.  The raspberry chipotle sauce imbues the chops with a smoky, sweet and slightly piquant flavor.  It’s an excellent entree.

Bailey's Irish Cream - Milk Chocolate Mousse with Pretzel Crust

Bailey’s Irish Cream – Milk Chocolate Mousse with Pretzel Crust

The restaurant’s most expensive entree (and my favorite) is the grilled rack of lamb served with a roasted red pepper and cucumber mint relish, parmesan risotto and garlic sauteed baby spinach and carrots.  To me, this is the epitome of a fine-dining, gourmet entree and one of my very favorite meals.  Lamb is the Rodney Dangerfield of meats, not accorded with the respect it richly deserves.  Dissenters decry it as a gamy meat and while that may be the case with inferior lamb, it’s certainly not so at the Indigo Crow where the lamb is succulent and utterly delicious.

Desserts take a backseat to no restaurant in the Albuquerque area. In the summer, the epitome of seasonal freshness can be found in the Indigo Crow’s fruit pizza, a sugar cookie crust topped with cream cheese and a panoply of berries–raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. Not only is this dessert rich in antioxidants, it’s absolutely delicious, a melange of sweet and tangy flavors sure to please even the most discerning diners. The winter equivalent may be the Lemonberry cake, a rich white cake layered with mascarpone and imbued with berries. Oh, the delicious decadence. It’s almost sinful.

Three Berry Bread Pudding

Three Berry Bread Pudding

The chef’s creativity certainly extends to desserts.  A sliver of chocolate mousse pie certainly demonstrates this.  The chocolate mousse is a decadent combination of Bailey’s Irish Cream and milk chocolate.  The Bailey’s Irish Cream leaves a faint reminiscence of the cream-based liqueur and tempers the sweetness of the milk chocolate.  What makes this dessert special is the pretzel crust which lends just enough saltiness to balance the sweeter, creamier ingredients.  The pretzel crust also provides a delightful textural contrast. 

Rating number four (as of May 1st, 2013) on Larry McGoldrick’s bread pudding hall of fame is the Indigo Crow’s Tree Berry Bread Pudding.  It’s one of my very favorite bread puddings, too.  There are many elements that make this a very special bread pudding.  Texturally it is about as perfect as bread pudding can be and the tartness of the berries prevent it from being cloying, but one of my favorite elements is the dash of salt.

The Indigo Crow’s ambiance is hard to beat and it remains one of the most romantic restaurants in the Albuquerque area, particularly on nights when the moon is full.  In nearly two dozen visits over the years, we’ve sampled many menu items and have enjoyed almost everything we’ve had.  It’s so good we just might join Oscar Butler in a chorus or two of his Indigo Crow song.

Indigo Crow
4515 Corrales Road
Corrales, New Mexico
(505) 898-7000
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 27 April 2013
COST: $$ – $$$$
BEST BET: Mussels, Lobster Ravioli, Lolly Pop Pork Chops, Slipper Lobster Tails, Lemonberry Pie, Fruit Pizza, Grilled Rack of Lamb, The Catalina Salad, The Hobo Burger, Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich, Three Berry Bread Pudding

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