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Bosque Brewing Company – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Bosque Brewing Company, almost as far north on San Mateo as you can go

In 1978, the number of breweries across the fruited plain had fallen to an all-time, post-Prohibition low of 89.  That year President Jimmy Carter signed into law, a bill that legalized home brewing on a national level.  Since the craft brewing market began to pick up steam in the mid- to late-1980s  there has been no surcease in  sight. Today, there are more than 2,500 breweries operating across the United States with another 1,500 breweries in the planning stage.  According to the Brewers Association, as of 2013 the craft beer industry experienced  double-digit growth four straight years in both dollar sales and volume.

So what accounts for such growth in popularity of local beer?  Experts theorize that similar to the locavore trend in the culinary world, cervisaphiles (aficionados of beers and ales) have grown tired of being subjected to industrially brewed swill (anyone remember the “skunky” beer commercials?) and have discovered the pleasures of carefully crafted beer flavors made under the same roof where it’s consumed.  A similar evolution among consumers also transpired among oenophiles (wine connoisseurs) and coffee-drinkers.

Left: Italian Sandwich served with Kettle Chips. Right: German brats with housemade tarragon and sauerkraut

These trends have not been lost on the Duke City which in 2014 was named by Livability.com as “America’s best mid-sized city in the country for beer.”   According to the Web site, Albuquerque is known for its “cultural diversity, authentic landscapes and genuine characters – and that extends to its brews. Residents here enjoy mostly sunny days and have their pick of micro-breweries that always have fresh beer on tap.”  As of May, 2014, Urbanspoon listed nineteen brewery restaurants in the metropolitan area from which cerevisaphiles can pick with others in the mill.  

The Bosque Brewing Company entered the keenly competitive craft beer foray in November, 2012 and, despite a location far from the beaten path, has experienced significant growth.  Thanks to a March, 2014 expansion, the brewery now has a production capacity of 3,500 barrels per year–ten times more than what it sold during its first year of operation.  A second location is slated to launch in late spring of 2014.  I wouldn’t be writing about The Bosque Brewing Company, however, if it didn’t also serve food that’s a notch or two above most pub food.

Red Pepper and Smoked Gouda Soup

Surprisingly–considering the quality of the food–the Bosque Brewing Company doesn’t boast of a large kitchen in which a staff of chefs, sous chefs, expediters and servers are preparing and serving your food.  Instead, all the food is prepared behind the bar on small countertop stoves and a panini press.  The restaurant’s motto is “Flavor Is Boss.”  In addition to seven sandwiches, the menu offers lighter fare such as salads, pretzels, soup of the day and green chile stew.  A happy hour (Monday – Thursday: 3PM to 6PM and all day Sunday) menu is a bit more expansive, offering such noshing favorites as chips and salsa, hummus and bruscetta.

The Italian Sandwich could also be called the Mediterranean Sandwich because several of its ingredients–grilled panini bread, capicola ham, salami, grilled onions, tomatoes, feta-Greek dressing and an olive tapenade with Gruyere cheese–would fit well on a Greek sandwich, too.  When you’ve got that many ingredients on a sandwich, those with a less assertive flavor profile may be a bit overpowered by stronger ingredients.  That was the case with the olive tapenade which just wasn’t discernible among the other components.  Frankly, none of the ingredients really stood out because there was such a melange of flavors that complemented one another.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Reuben with Kettle Chips

The special of the day during our inaugural visit was a German brats made with a housemade tarragon sauce and sauerkraut.  The tarragon with its sweet-tangy flavor and anise-like notes should be bottled and sold. It is that good! The bratwurst sandwich is thick, meaty and heavily spiced while the sauerkraut has a tangy, zesty flavor without the lip-pursing qualities of some sauerkraut. 

Soup of the day is not to be missed if it’s roasted red pepper and smoked Gouda soup.  While it’s undoubtedly even better on a cold winter day, it’s a delight any time of year and would probably taste just as good cold as it does steaming hot.  The smooth, mellow flavored smoked Gouda pairs exceptionally well with the vibrant sweet-savory-tangy flavors of the freshly roasted red peppers for a full-flavored and hearty soup. 

Perhaps no sandwich is as ubiquitous on deli and sandwich shop menus as is the Reuben, a sandwich with several variants, most delicious.  The Bosque Brewing Company’s version is very admirable in that the corned beef is piled high and the sauerkraut is plentiful.  It’s a delicious sandwich served with a heaping helping of Kettle chips. 

The Bosque Brewing Company is located almost as far north as you can go on San Mateo before its terminus, but if you’re thinking San Mateo east of I25, you’d be wrong. Make sure to consult your favorite mapping application before heading there. If the beers are comparable in quality to the food, this brewery is going places.

Bosque Brewing Company
8900 San Mateo, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 750-7596
Web Site:
LATEST VISIT: 11 May 2014
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $$
BEST BET: German Brats, Reuben Sandwich, The Italian Sandwich, Roasted Red Pepper and Smoked Gouda Soup

Bosque Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Nob Hill Bar & Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Nob Hill Bar & Grill on Central Avenue

The Nob Hill Bar & Grill

There’s talk on the street,
it’s there to remind you,

it doesn’t really matter which side you’re on
You’re walking away and they’re talking behind you
They will never forget you ’til somebody new comes along
- New Kid In Town: The Eagles

As an independent observer of the New Mexico culinary experience, it’s always intrigued me just how fleeting and short-lived the popularity of new restaurants can be.   Perhaps indicative of our human need for constant new sources of stimulation and gratification, diners (and restaurant critics) flock to new restaurants like moths to a flame.   In our minds, new seems to translate to fresh and exciting.  We seem drawn to the spit, polish and promise of new restaurants in our constant quest for new and different.

The phenomenon of newness isn’t solely applicable to restaurants.  On the liner notes of “The Very Best of the Eagles,” Don Henley explained the meaning behind their number one song “New Kid in Town:” We’re basically saying, ‘Look, we know we’re red hot right now but we also know that somebody’s going to come along and replace us–both in music and in love.’  The fleeting, fickle nature of our fascination with newness is so strong that some restaurants actually peak in popularity within a few months after opening, particularly after their first glowing reviews.

The interior of the Nob Hill Bar & Grill

A decidedly masculine ambiance

In the National Football League (NFL), general managers and coaches recognize that the effectiveness of a draft (the signing of new players coming out of college) isn’t realized for three years.  New restaurants generally don’t have three years to prove themselves.  Many of them don’t make it past their first year.  Successful restaurants aren’t just another pretty face in the crowd.  They’re generally restaurants with substance, not just flash and panache–eateries which provide reasonable portions of good food in a pleasant ambiance served by an attentive staff.  Many of them are constantly reinventing themselves with new and exciting seasonal menu offerings.

In April, 2008, one of the pretty new faces gracing the Duke City dining scene was the Nob Hill Bar & Grill on Central Avenue.  The mere fact that it’s survived six years (as of this writing) is indicative that it’s doing things right.  The fact that there doesn’t appear to be any surcease in its popularity despite the onslaught of newer and arguably prettier competition says the Nob Hill Bar & Grill formula is working very well indeed.

Applewood Smoked Chicken Wings Tossed in Mango Habanero, served with apple slaw and choice of blue cheese or ranch.

Perhaps one of the reasons the restaurant continues to thrive is the combination of staying true to its original vision while constantly introducing elements of newness the Albuquerque dining public craves.  The Nob Hill Bar & Grill’s  vision is to be a place in which everyone feels welcome to come as they are, but with the expectations that they’ll find top-notch food, service and interesting twists on the standards they might find at a neighborhood bar, pub or steakhouse. Think time-honored bar and comfort foods with an upscale gourmet interpretation.  Think gastropub done very well!

Situated in an east-facing adobe-hued stucco exterior and a beckoning red brick frontage facing Central Avenue, the Nob Hill Bar & Grill is a beacon for patrons in pursuit of delicious victuals and creative cocktails. The east-facing wall opens up to an exterior patio which nearly doubles the restaurant’s seating capacity.  The patio provides an excellent people-watching venue.  The restaurant’s interior is decidedly contemporary and masculine with its exposed brick walls, high-backed booths with black leather seating, dark wood floors and an exposed ceiling.  An exhibition kitchen is the restaurant’s cynosure, a hectic, but not harried hub of activity. The menu, however, has more than enough variety to please both masculine and feminine palates.

St eamed Clams Little neck clams with roasted fennel, roma tomatoes and pork lardons in a white wine butter sauce topped with gremolata

Steamed Clams

The Nob Hill Bar & Grill’s innovative menu changes with the seasons.  To the greatest extent possible, the restaurant sources its beef and produce locally.  Hamburgers are crafted from premium-cut steak raised in Roswell (no UFO jokes, please).  This is no ordinary beef.  It’s a full carcass blend made from premium cuts–New York, tenderloin, ribeye– not scrap meat.   You’ll be able to taste the difference. 

Appetizers

19 August 2011: As down-to-earth as celebrity foodie Ryan Scott is, he is admittedly a barbecue snob. Years of trial and some error have made him a true smoke master and undoubtedly imbued him with the patience all barbecue purists must have.  Dine with him and you’re practically assured your meal will include smoked chicken wings if they’re on the menu.  The Nob Hill Bar & Grill’s wings are smoked in applewood, a “light” wood which imparts a fragrant smokiness without overwhelming the meats.  You can have the wings tossed in your choice of buffalo sauce or mango-habanero and served with your choice of blue cheese or ranch.  The mango-habanero is slightly tangy and only mildly piquant, allowing the applewood smoke to shine.  Shine it does.  These wings are so good Ryan eschewed dessert and opted for a second order of wings.

Jicama Duck Tacos: Shedded duck confit on fresh jicama t ortillas with an or ange cr anberry salsa and queso fresc

Jicama Duck Tacos: Shedded duck confit on fresh jicama tortillas with an orange
cranberry salsa and queso fresc

15 March 2014: In responding to my “Best of the Best for 2013” feature, my friends Hannah and Edward compiled their own list of the most memorable dishes they had in 2013.  Their list included a number of intriguing dishes I hadn’t tried.  Among the most compelling, a dish on which they both agreed, was the steamed clams at the Nob Hill Bar & Grill.  Since in my mind Hannah and Edward can do no wrong, the clams were the first item on which my eyes trained during a subsequent visit. 

These steamed clams are indeed well worthy of adulation.  At seven to ten clams per pound, little neck clams are the smallest of American cold water quahogs, but they’re among the most delicious–especially when served in a white wine butter sauce topped with gremolata (chopped herb condiment usually made of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley),  roasted fennel, Roma tomatoes and pork lardons. It’s as good a sauce as we’ve found for clams, a sauce which would make an award-winning soup and for which you would want a half dozen slices of lightly toasted bread to dredge up every drop.  

Huevos Rancheros

15 March 2014: From its onset, the Nob Hill Bar & Grill has been one of the city’s very best eateries in showcasing the versatility and deliciousness of duck.  One of the more inventive ways in which it’s offered is in the form of Jicama Duck Tacos.  You’re probably thinking “what’s so inventive about julienne jicama on a taco” and you’d be right.  What makes this taco so innovative is that the fresh tortillas are made not from corn or flour, but from jicama, a versatile sweet root vegetable.  Four tacos per order are engorged with shredded duck confit with an orange-cranberry salsa and queso fresco.  These are some of the most moist and delicious tacos in town.  The shredded duck is rich, moist and infused with flavors complemented by a tangy-sweet salsa and a mild queso.  

In its annual Food and Wine issue for 2013, Albuquerque The Magazine‘s staff sampled “every dish of nachos in the city” and selected the Nob Hill Bar & Grill’s nachos as the sixth best in the city.  The magazine described these nachos as “Albuquerque meets Texas with this plate of nachos, which is filled with chili–you know, the Texas kind.”

Brunch

Sunday brunch is a special event at several Nob Hill restaurants. It’s the thing to do on lazy Sunday mornings and restaurants such as Zinc are the place to be. Look for the Nob Hill Bar & Grill to attract even more people to the cultural heart of the city.  When the Nob Hill Bar & Grill first opened, it offered a bountiful brunch buffet.  Bidding bonjour to that  brunch buffet is a blow softened by a memorable, weekly changing brunch menu.  Sure, you won’t engorge yourself with multiple trips to the buffet, but you’ll be treated to prepared to order entrees that don’t suffer the ignominious fate of sitting under a heat lamp (which will diminish the flavor of even the best entrees).

14 December 2008: Huevos Rancheros are just a little bit different, maybe just a bit better than huevos rancheros at most New Mexican restaurants.  Instead of piling ingredients atop a corn tortilla, these beauties start with two rolled duck meat enchiladas topped with both green chile stew and red chile sauce and a fried egg.  The green chile stew is fantastic–piquant and flavorful, albeit parsimoniously portioned.  The red chile has a beautiful purity with no discernible thickening agents.  It is earthy and delicious, but alas, there’s just not enough of it.  Not everybody wants a veritable lagoon of fluorescent red chile (a description shared with me by long-time friend of this blog Bruce Balto), but when it’s this good, you want more than to be teased.  The huevos are accompanied by old-fashioned refried beans which, honestly, would have benefited from some of that fabulous green chile stew.

Chips & Salsa Three Ways

Until a few years ago, you couldn’t find an imaginative pancake in all of Albuquerque. Sure you could find pancakes topped with every conceivable fruit you can find, but in terms of griddle greatness, buttermilk was about as good as it got. It took chefs like Dennis Apodaca at Sophia’s Place and the Nob Hill Bar & Grill’s Culinary Institute of America trained Matt Ludeman to elevate pancakes to a new level.

14 December 2008: Ludeman’s contribution includes oatmeal Guinness pancakes topped with a Balsamic orange butter and whiskey syrup. Roughly the circumference of a coffee cup, these flavorful orbs are dense and thick instead of light and fluffy, but they’re good enough to eat sans syrup and butter, not that you’d ever want to considering the whiskey syrup is sensational. Accompanying the pancakes are two strips of candied pepper bacon and two eggs sunny-side-up. The candied pepper bacon will compete with the honey-chile glazed bacon at the Gold Street Caffe as the best bacon in town. It’s a flaccid bacon as opposed to the jerky textured bacon some restaurants serve. 

The Aptly Named Dirty Burger

14 December 2008: The “brunchies” portion of the menu includes several nice starters such as chips and salsa three ways.  Sweet, smoky and tart is one way in the form of smoked mango salsa composed of mangoes, tomatoes, cilantro and green peppers.  Another way is with creamy avocado sparsely dotted with corn niblets and replete with flavor.  It’s not a conventional guacamole per se, but if you like just the whisper of citrus influenced tartness with the buttery richness of avocado, you’ll love this one.  The third way is pico de gallo, a composite of tomato, green pepper, red onion and cilantro.  There’s not much pico in this rooster’s bite, but it’s delicious.  The red, white and blue corn tortillas are crisp and low in salt.

Lunch

19 August 2011: My friend Ryan Scott, the dynamic host of Albuquerque’s best YouTube channel program Break the Chain, (yeah, I’m a shill) and I shared a “Dirty Burger” which our waitress touted as one of the very best burgers in New Mexico. A better name might be “Messy Burger” in the best tradition of four napkin burgers whose ingredients run down your hands and face. The burger is constructed with your choice of Nob Hill’s ultimate blend steak or Snake River Kobe beef topped with chili (sic) con queso, frizzled onions, bacon fried egg and “beeronnaize” served with sea salt fries and chipotle ketchup. Because the chili con queso is made with the foul demon spice cumin, I deprived Scott of the experience of trying the Kobe crafted chili.

This Ain’t Yo Mama’s Meatloaf Local New Mexico all natural beef stuffed with applewood smoked bacon and smoked mozzarella cheese, served with garlic mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables and shallot gravy

This Ain’t Yo Mama’s Meatloaf

Sans chili, this is a terrific burger!  Lightly toasted brioche buns are hardly formidable enough to contain all the juiciness and flavor so you might have to eat this burger with a knife and fork.  The beef is most assuredly the star of this four-star burger.  It has the flavor of premium steak.  Cut into the over-easy fried egg and let its yoke cover the beef for a taste sensation savvy restaurants have caught onto.  The beeronnaize (not Bearnaise) has an interesting flavor–a somewhat salty, beer imbued mayo concoction applied generously.  Only the frizzled onions are truly extraneous, a wholly unnecessary additive. 

15 March 2014: It’s not every mama who serves meatloaf constructed from local New Mexico all-natural beef stuffed with applewood smoked bacon and smoked mozzarella cheese stacked atop a forest mushroom risotto then serves it with fresh vegetables (haricot vert and asparagus).  That makes this entree’s name–This Ain’t Yo Mama’s Meatloaf–so appropriate.  The pairing of applewood smoked bacon and smoked mozzarella makes smokiness the most prominent in a flavor profile.  It’s most definitely an adult meatloaf.  The forest mushroom risotto isn’t the usual accompaniment for the meatloaf, but a very accommodating server (Josh) aimed to please.  It’s a good risotto though its flavor was somewhat obfuscated by the shallot gravy intended for the meatloaf.

Fish and Chips Local Marble Brown Ale battered Cod, sea salt waffle fries, apple slaw and malt vinegar ar

Fish and Chips
Local Marble Brown Ale battered Cod, sea salt waffle fries, apple slaw and malt vinegar

15 March 2014: Not only is the meatloaf not constructed as your mama might make it, the fish and chips aren’t quite what we enjoyed by the netful in England.  Instead of flaccid fries which easily absorb the malt vinegar, the Nob Hill Bar & Grill serves sea salt waffle fries which seem to have a deflector shield preventing the absorption of malt vinegar.  The fish–two pieces of fresh cod–are delicious: flaky and delicate on the inside with a crispy Marble Brown Ale batter on the outside.  A small ramekin of apple slaw completes the entree.

Desserts

Dessert options include an Editor’s Pick in Albuquerque The Magazine’s 2008 Best of the City edition.  That would be the Cafe Con leche, a coffee lover’s lascivious dream.  It’s Thai coffee mousse with a white chocolate, coffee sponge cake and a crumbly trail of decaf coffee crumbles leading to sweetened condensed milk ice cream made in-house.  Wow!  It’s one of the most unique and intensely flavored desserts in town, a dessert you might not want to share no matter how much you might love your dining companion. 

Cafe con Leche

15 March 2014: Anthony Bourdain believes Guinness to be one of the best adult beverages in the world and as if to prove it downs several frothy pints with every meal of which he partakes in Ireland (that is when he’s not sipping on Irish whiskey).  It’s unlikely he’s had Irish libations in the manner they’re presented at the Nob Hill Bar & Grill in a dessert called the Guinness Fritter Bomb.   Three crispy fritters are served in a large bowl with Guinness ice cream, Bailey’s whipped cream and a Jameson’s caramel sauce.  Surprisingly the most memorable of the lot is the Bailey’s whipped cream.  The Jameson’s caramel sauce is actually sugar spun into twill patterns.

Guinness Fritter Bomb: Crispy Fritters, Guinness Ice Cream, Bailey's Whipped Cream topped with Jameson's Caramel Sauce

Guinness Fritter Bomb: Crispy Fritters, Guinness Ice Cream, Bailey’s Whipped Cream topped with Jameson’s Caramel Sauce

In 2008, the Nob Hill Bar & Grill was selected by readers as Albuquerque’s best new restaurant in the Alibi’s annual “Best of Burque Restaurants” poll.  It earned the same accolade in Albuquerque The Magazine‘s annual “Best of the City” honors.   In subsequent years, this restaurant has continued to rack up honors and accolades, surely indicative that this is no flash-in-the pan.  The Nob Hill Bar & Grill is here to stay.

Nob Hill Bar & Grill
3128 Central Avenue, S.E.
Albuquerque, NM

(505) 266-4455
Web Site

1ST VISIT
: 27 April 2008
LATEST VISIT: 
15 March 2014
# OF VISITS
: 4
RATING
: 22
COST
: $$
BEST BET
: Oatmeal Guinness Pancakes, Huevos Rancheros. Chips & Salsa Three Ways, Cafe con Leche, The Dirty Burger, Applewood Smoked Wings, This Ain’t Yo Mama’s Meatloaf, Fish and Chips, Steamed Clams, Jicama Duck Tacos


View Nob Hill Bar & Grill on LetsDineLocal.com »

Nob Hill Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

The Stumbling Steer – Albuquerque, New Mexico

StumblingSteer01

The Stumbling Steer Brewery & Gastropub

There are ranchers throughout New Mexico who might not think there’s anything even mildly amusing about a brewery and gastropub called The Stumbling Steer.  These robust ranchers would likely equate the term Stumbling Steer to the clumsy gait exhibited by their precious livestock after they consume locoweed, a poisonous plant found in every one of the Land of Enchantment’s 33 counties.  Ultimately leading to paralysis and death if not controlled, locoweed accounts for millions of dollars in livestock loss each year.

The name Stumbling Steer obviously has nothing to do with the bane of ranchers throughout New Mexico.  According to the gastropub’s Web site, the name has everything to do with a commitment to a farm and table approach.  All the spent grains used to craft the brewery’s (ostensibly delicious) beers are fed to locally grown cattle which purportedly gain fat…or flavor.  Those selfsame cattle provide the beef which graces a very imaginative menu. It’s a menu which changes with the seasons, keeping things fresh and fun.

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The sprawling interior of the Stumbling Steer

The Stumbling Steer is no ordinary brew pub.  It’s a gastropub, a British term for a public house (pub) which specializes in high-end, high-quality food. The term gastropub, a portmanteau of pub and gastronomy, is intended to define food which is a step above the more basic “pub grub,” but in actuality, it can be several degrees of magnitude better. Gastropubs not only emphasize the quality of food served, they provide a relaxed milieu in which patrons can obtain cuisine (as opposed to grub) comparable to what they might receive at the very best restaurants–and ostensibly, at reasonable prices. The menu, of course, has to complement an assortment of wines and beers, the latter being a staple of pub life in England. 

The Stumbling Steer opened its doors for both lunch and dinner in February, 2014, occupying a rambling edifice which housed The Quarters since 1994.  There are few, if any, vestiges of The Quarters in sight.  Thematically, The Stumbling Steer is a mishmash of western ranch meets neo-modern. Just above the entrance to the yawning complex is an elevated water tank emblazoned with the gastropub’s moniker. A sprawling covered patio increases the restaurant’s 270-seat capacity. The interior is cavernous, segmented into a bar area and a dining area although you can eat at both. It’s a brightly lit space. Seating is just beyond personal space proximity and is more functional than it is comfortable.  The ambiance is festive (or you can translate that to “noisy” if you’d like) and fun.

StumblingSteer03

Ale French Onion Soup

The Stumbling Steer is the brainchild of a quintumvirate of friends who understand and appreciate good food (gastronomes) and good craft beers (cerevisaphiles).  One of the five partners is Chef Thanawat Bates who’s got major chef creds, having guided culinary teams at several four- and five-star and five-diamond resorts in highly competitive culinary markets.  As a partner at The Stumbling Steer, Chef T. has the opportunity to stamp his imprint on the Duke City’s burgeoning gastropub scene.  He’s a stickler for “made from scratch” cooking.  Everything from jams and sauces to croutons and butters are made on the premises. 

The Stumbling Steer’s menu exemplifies what gastropubs are all about, offering some of the bar and pub foods with which diners are familiar, but up-scaling them with gourmet qualities and inventive touches.  Why, for example, offer the ubiquitous starter of French fries when you can let diners enjoy Southwestern Poutine (French fries, cheese curd, green chile, gravy and jalapeño)?   Why visit another pub which might serve a standard lettuce, pickle and tomato burger when you can get The Stumbling Steer Burger (half-pound of Angus beef, pastrami, mushrooms, onions, Gruyere cheese, house sauce on a Challah bun)?  Half of the fun of the dining adventure is trying something you may not have had before–something creative and different.

StumblingSteer04

Crispy Brussels sprouts

What could be more different–and more audacious–than Brussels sprouts?  Named America’s “most hated vegetable” in a 2008 survey conducted by Heinz, Brussels sprouts are almost universally reviled.  Many diners hate them without ever having tried them (probably because they heard someone else express their disdain for this villainous vegetable).  Andy Griffiths even wrote an anti-tribute to Brussels sprouts.  Entitled “Just Disgusting!,” its lyrics posit: “Who wouldn’t hate them? They’re green.  They’re slimy.  They’re moldy.  They’re horrible.  They’re putrid.  They’re foul.  Apart from that, I love them.”

At The Stumbling Steer, the Crispy Brussels Sprouts appetizer is so good, even the most fussbudget will enjoy them.  If you’re of the mind that these Brussels Sprouts are palatable solely because their flavor is masked, you would be wrong.  Texturally, they’re crispy with slightly darkened, but not burnt edges.  That in itself is an improvement, but they’re taken to a new level with the addition of a cilantro-tamarind sauce paired with garlic, peanuts and shaved almonds.  The sauce is enlivened with a pleasant piquancy that pairs well with the tanginess of the tamarind and the freshness of the cilantro.

StumblingSteer05

Monte Cristo Porchetta

French restaurants throughout the Duke City don’t have exclusivity when it comes to preparing delicious French Onion Soup.  In fact, The Stumbling Steer’s version is competitive with the best offered in town, but it’s not your standard everyday French Onion Soup.  It’s not even French.  It’s Welsh Cheddar Rarebit, slightly modified from the traditional Welsh method by ladling a thick Cheddar sauce over crouton, then briefly toasting the two together so that the cheese sauce turns thick and bubbling.  My pet peeve with most French onion soup is the lack of “beefiness” in the broth.  That’s not the case with this soup which melds so many wonderful flavors together.  Not only is it delicious, it’s warming and comforting.

Adventurous diners might eschew burgers for something just a little bit different–perhaps something you’ve had before, but prepared in a uniquely creative manner.  One option is the Monte Cristo Porchetta, a sumptuous sandwich stuffed with slow-roasted pork, Fontina, Gruyere and a fried egg on top served with a ramekin of an Ancho chili-wild berry sauce.  The sandwich needs absolutely no amelioration, but that sauce gives the otherwise boring French fries some personality.  The porchetta (pork) is nicely roasted with a crispy skin and is seasoned with aromatic spices and herbs which imbue it with addictive properties.  Our only complaint about this sandwich is that it didn’t have enough pork (a roast would have been good).

StumblingSteer06

B2LT

Another sandwich showcasing the sumptuous qualities of pork is the B2LT, not your mother’s bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.  Bacon, one of nature’s perfect foods, isn’t even a component of this sandwich…or at least the bacon you might be thinking of.  Instead, a quarter-inch thick braised and seared pork belly is used.  That’s like bacon all grown up.  It’s thick and smoky with fatty and crispy elements playing two-part harmony on your taste buds.  The tomato and lettuce are served on the side so you don’t have to discard them and risk getting mayo on your hands.  The canvas for this sandwich is soft and pillowy Ciabatta bread.  Persnickety eaters might consider the pork belly a little too fatty, but if you’re a purist, this sandwich is for you.

Kricket, a faithful reader of Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog (and one who should comment more often) may be The Stumbling Steer’s biggest fan.  Her enthusiasm for the gastropub prompted our inaugural visit:  “Gil, I beg of you, review The Stumbling Steer. I keep saying I will try different appetizers, but those fried pork bites are like bits of pork belly *butter* and I can’t avoid ordering them. This place has my undying loyalty (and if they delivered, my arteries would last about a week).”  The fried pork bites are available as an appetizer only for dinner.  The dinner menu includes some of the popular lunch items while adding enticing entrees, some of which you won’t find anywhere else in the Duke City.  A dinner visit is in the offing.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

During our three years in England, we often enjoyed sticky toffee pudding, a lush muffin-like mound of bread pudding topped with a rich caramel toffee.  It’s a high-calorie indulgence rich in flavor and deliciousness.  The Stumbling Steer’s version takes a couple of liberties from the English version.  These liberties–a sea salt toffee and vanilla ice cream–work very well.  The sea salt toffee, in particular, lends just a modicum of savoriness to what would otherwise be a too sweet, too rich dessert.  One of the most common mistakes made with bread puddings is the absence of savoriness to offset the cloying nature of the dessert.  The toffee is served in a small pitcher and can be dispensed onto the bread pudding in quantities you control.

The king of rock and roll loved a particular sandwich crafted from peanut butter and mashed bananas so much that he consumed some twelve to fifteen of them in one sitting.  Today, there are many variations of the “Elvis,” including one at the Stumbling Steer that might have adult pelvises gyrating and children pinging off the walls.  The main ingredient in the Steer’s Elvis Fudge Brownie is decadence.  Other ingredients in this interpretation of the Elvis are banana ice cream, bacon caramel, peanut brittle and chocolate sauce.  You probably gained three pounds just reading those ingredients.  It’s a very sweet, very rich and probably not something you can (or should) consume in one sitting.  The peanut brittle lends a nice savory offset to the cloying dominance.

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Elvis Fudge Brownie

The Stumbling Steer Brewery & Gastropub has the potential and chef creds to excite Duke City diners for a long time.

The Stumbling Steer Brewery & Gastropub
3700 Ellison Road, N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 792-7805
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 1 March 2014
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $$
BEST BET: Monte Cristo Porchetta, B2LT, Ale French Onion Soup, Crispy Brussels sprouts, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Elvis Fudge Brownie

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