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Effingbar and Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Effingbar in Albuquerque

The late comedian and beloved social critic George Carlin might be surprised at how far America has come (some might say how much we’ve regressed) when it comes to uttering foul invectives, especially the “seven words” he postulated “you can never say on television.” While most of us still won’t vocalize the infamous “F-word” in polite company, its diminutive version has become part of our vernacular. Whether on screen or in print (or on shirts emblazoned with the abbreviation F.U. (which doesn’t stand for Florida University)) it’s “F this” and “F that.” 

It’s been said that the F-word is the most versatile word in the English language in that it can be used as an action verb, passive verb, adverb, noun, adjective and even conjunction.  Make it a gerund by adding “ing” and the F-word’s utility as an adjective is virtually unlimited.  Like something and it’s “effing great.”  Hate something and it “effing stinks.”  At the very least, a bar and grill with the unique name “Effingbar and Grill” will get your attention.  It’s not until you visit that you’ll determine whether it’s effing good or effing bad.

The interior of the Effingbar & Grill

Our server jokingly apprised us that the “effing” part of the bar and grill’s name can essentially mean whatever we want it to mean, then clarified that the “Effingbar” is actually named for the owner’s hometown, Effingham, Illinois.  While that may be the case, the menu is replete with items prefaced by “effing” and even if they’re not, you may just find yourself asking for the effing hot dogs or effing nachos then effing thanking your server when she effing delivers them.  It’s a good bet she’s heard it all before. 

We all like to think that the adult beverage establishment we frequent is the proverbial place “where everybody knows your name.” The Effingbar truly may be that place. Like Cheers barflies Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin, regulars–and there seem to be many of them–belly up to their favorite bar stool for an unfettered view of one of the fourteen high-definition televisions, all turned to sporting events.  The Effingbar and Grill also offers karaoke and live music as well as daily lunch specials.

Chips and Salsa

Established in 2010, the Effingbar and Grill seems to have fallen under Albuquerque’s culinary radar a bit with nary an Urbanspoon review and only eight (mixed) reviews on Yelp as of this writing.  Frankly, it might have escaped my notice, too, had it not been for a posting on the “Best Burger Review” blog touting the “best burgers we ate in 2014.”  Described as “one of the most under-rated burgers in Albuquerque” and “nothing fancy, but, juicy and full of flavor,” far be it for me to pass up such a tempting appraisal. 

With its masculine ambiance of dark wood accents and darkness punctuated by generous dabs of light emanating mostly from televisions and illuminated bar signs, the Effingbar and Grill won’t be mistaken for a fine dining establishment, but its culinary offerings are head and shoulders better than dive bar food.  The menu offers an array of New Mexican entrees, certified Angus beef burgers (fresh, never frozen), sandwiches, hot dogs and even steak.

The Effing Burger with Green Chile and Chile Cheese Fries

If you’re tired of insipid salsa that tastes good, but doesn’t bite back, the Efingbar and Grill has salsa you can truly respect.  If  you don’t exclaim out loud “this salsa is effing hot!,” you’ll at least be thinking it.   It’s among the most piquant salsas in town, on par or even more piquant than the incendiary offering at Sadie’s Dining Room.   We usually have a surfeit of chips remaining after quickly polishing off the salsa, but that wasn’t the case with this flame-eater’s delight.  The queso isn’t especially piquant, but it’s got a very good flavor and perfect viscosity. 

Visit the Effingbar’s Facebook page and you might be tempted to lick the screen.  That’s because the page’s cover photo depicts the Effing Burger, ten ounces of fresh ground Angus beef cooked to your exacting specifications (though medium-well to well are recommended) and topped with American and Swiss cheeses, sauteed mushrooms, bacon, green chile and a large onion ring on a sourdough bun with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles served on the side.  Perhaps the best thing about this burger is how the melange of fresh ingredients take a supporting role to the thick, nicely seasoned beef.  The next best thing is how the green chile actually bites back.  Though you can have this burger with fries or onion rings, its best pairing might be with the chile cheese fries Christmas-style.

Taco Plate with rice and beans

New Mexican dinner offerings include an enchilada plate, huevos rancheros, burrito plate and taco plate.  The taco plate is a terrific threesome of (your choice) tacos constructed either on hard-shells or soft tortillas engorged with seasoned ground beef, shredded cheese and chopped tomatoes served with a ramekin of salsa and sides of beans and rice.  While the tacos are quite good, you might find yourself surprised at how good the rice is.

Pursuers of cheap eats will appreciate an occasional special of two hot dogs for under four dollars. You can have these fabulous franks dressed your way (mustard and relish for me) within a split wiener repository, but you’ll probably come away with a higher appreciation for how well they’re grilled.  Few things in life are as satisfying as a simple hot dog or two.

Hot Dogs with Lays Potato Chips

The Effingbar and Grill is one of the Duke City’s most effing good surprises–a friendly, easy-going milieu that actually serves effing good food (and maybe even a PBR or six for my friend Bob).

Effingbar & Grill
5300 Sequoia Rd. N.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 833-3765
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 31 January 2015
# OF VISITS: 1
RATING: N/R
COST: $$
BEST BET: Hot Dogs, Taco Plate, Effing Burger, Con Queso, Salsa with Chips

Effingbar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Omira Bar & Grill – Santa Fe, New Mexico

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Omira Brazilian Steakhouse on the southeast intersection of Cerrillos and St. Michael’s in Santa Fe

HOLLY: I can’t believe you’ve never taken anybody here before.
JERRY: Well, I’m not really that much of a meat eater.
HOLLY: . . . You don’t eat meat? Are you one of those. . .
JERRY: Well, no, I’m not one of those.
~ Seinfeld

“One of those!”  Around my Chicago born and bred Kim and her family, that term fits me to a tee.  As with many Midwestern families, my in-laws are rapacious carnivores.  Their dining room table is a pantheon of pork and a bastion of beef.  It’s a Bacchanalian feast of multitudinous meats.  Similarly, meals at Windy City  restaurants are veritable meat-fests where diners unleash their innermost meat-eating-machine.  In the city’s chophouses (what every other city calls a steakhouse) heavily marbled flesh is displayed under glass, trophies of edible excess.  Is it any wonder the city’s defining foods include humongous Italian beef sandwiches, slabs of Flintstonian-sized ribs and steaks the size of manhole covers. 

This obsession with meat isn’t solely a Midwestern phenomena.  People throughout the world are eating more meat and fat than ever with worldwide meat consumption expected to double by 2020.  In the western world alone, the per capita consumption of meat is a whopping 176 pounds–or about what my in-laws eat in a week.  When they decide to lose weight or live more healthily, meat mongers eschew carbs and happily sink their teeth into…even more meat, a much-appreciated dietary byproduct of the most popular meat-centric diets in the world.

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The massive Salad Bar at Omira

Carnivores–and those among us who, unlike Jerry Seinfeld, are “one of those”–can dine together in perfect harmony, eating side-by-side at veritable meatatoriums known as Brazilian Churrascarias.  Strictly speaking, calling a Churrascaria a Brazilian “steakhouse” is a misnomer in that you don’t plop yourself down and order a slab of beef (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  Instead, you pay a fixed price (preco fixo) for the decadent indulgence of sitting down for bounteous portions of magnificent meats and full access to a sumptuous salad bar.  For carnivores, this is basically heaven on Earth.  For those among us who are “one of those” there’s still  much to enjoy.

The rodizio service is almost as entertaining as it is indulgent.  Machete-wielding servers channeling their inner gaucho traverse the room with oversized skewers of freshly prepared meats.  They risk life and limb to appease ravenous carnivores, some of whom would just as soon not wait for the meats to be sliced and apportioned.  On each table, you’ll find a “signaling” apparatus (not wholly unlike the famous bat signal in the campy Batman series) that apprises your server you want more meat.  This carnivorous cavalcade doesn’t end until you turn off the signaling device.

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While the light is on, your server will continue to bring food to your table

Perhaps someday Santa Fe’s resident carnivores will celebrate the summer of 2013 as the “summer of meat,” a tribute to the launch of the Omira Bar & Grill.   While the marquee is subtitled “Brazilian Steakhouse,” Omira is Brazilian only in the spirit and style of the Churrascaria.  Its world-cuisine offerings are more than a tad more sophisticated and of significantly higher quality than at other Churrascarias we’ve frequented while holding to a much appreciated price point.  Within months of opening, the Santa Fe Reporter named Omira one of Santa Fe’s ten best restaurants for 2013, a tremendous accomplishment considering the quality and diversity of the city’s restaurant scene.

Omira is the brainchild of Ziggy Rzig, a Tunisian-born entrepreneur who also owns the Pyramid Cafe, a popular Mediterranean restaurant on Cordova Road.  Ziggy is as hands-on and personable as any restaurant owner we’ve met.  He’s a peripatetic presence at the cavernous Omira, flitting from table-to-table while simultaneously acting as host, server, busboy and all-around ambassador.  The only job he doesn’t do is chef.  That’s the bailiwick of his beauteous bride Sally.  Ziggy credits being actively involved in every facet of day-to-day operation as one of the reasons Omira is able to maintain such high quality at a surprisingly low price point.

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Owner Ziggy Rzig

It’s certainly not the only reason.  Ziggy frequents the farmers’ market to find fresh, local produce where the tremendous variety and seasonal diversity allows for frequent menu changes.  Meats are also sourced locally.  Lamb and pork, both grass-fed, are procured from the Talus Wind Ranch Heritage Meats in Galisteo.  Beef is sourced from 4 Daughters Land & Cattle Company in Los Lunas.  While technically an all-you-can-eat (AYCE) restaurant, the quality at Omira is wholly antithetical to your typical AYCE pantheon of the pig-out.

Ziggy jokes that Omira is named for the Spanish expression “¡O, mira!’” which translates from Spanish to “oh, look” as in “oh, look at all the wonderful food.” (Actually, Omira is a portmanteau for the names of Zigg’s children, Omar and Samira.)  You won’t just look.  You’ll do a double- or triple-take.  As you walk past the front dining room into the larger, main dining room, your eyes will instantly train on a glimmering, glinting steely salad bar, one unlike any salad bar you’ll find in New Mexico.  It’s a veritable cornucopia of freshness, variety and pulchritude.  The burnished salad containers aren’t overfilled with their contents replenished faithfully to ensure freshness and minimize wastage.

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From the salad bar and a bowl of butternut squash soup

If your idea of salad is the anachronistic concept of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and gloppy blue cheese, you’re in for a surprise.  The salads, about two dozen in all, are already prepared for you.  Clearly marked cards are labeled with the names of artistic composed salads: mushrooms in Balsamic vinaigrette, Greek salad, kale salad, Basmati rice, watermelon and cantaloupe in mint dressing, chopped beets and feta, Asian coleslaw and so much more.  If you discern an Asian influence throughout the menu, credit Sally, of Southeast Asian descent. 

There are a number of very pleasant surprises in the salad bar experience though because of the rotating menu, it’s likely some of those we enjoyed most won’t be available in future visits.  Among our early favorites were a butternut squash soup, as warm and comforting as any soup.  It’s a soup with personality, seasoned assertively but not so much that it takes anything away from the flavor of the squash.  The Thai chicken curry is as good as we’ve had at some Thai restaurants.  Bread rolls are yeasty and delicious, perfect for sopping up the curry and soup.

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Egg Rolls

The fried bananas, a popular dish in Malaysia where they’re known as pisang goring, bring together sweet, ripe bananas sheathed in a light batter.  Traditionally a street food favorite, they’re wonderful even without coconut sprinkles or ice cream (hint here). The mushrooms in Balsamic vinegar are only lightly dresses so  as to allow the fleshy fungi to sing with delicious earthiness.  Surprisingly, the freshly-made Caesar salad is as good as you’ll have at fine dining restaurants.  It’s a daily salad bar standard.

If you’re not carnivorously inclined (or you’re “one of those”) you can opt out of the cavalcade of carne altogether and you’ll be perfectly happy (understatement) with the salad bar.  Better still, focus on the salad bar one visit and the meat next time.  Only certified gurgitators will have the caloric overachieving capacity to eat everything they want on both during one visit.  My friend Ryan “Break the Chain” Scott and I certainly tried, but were woefully inadequate for the task.

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At top, Bottom Sirloin Steak; At bottom: Panko Encrusted Pork Sirloin wrapped in Bacon

Though the meats are slow-cooked to bring out the optimum smokiness and delicate flavors of the nicely marbled grass-fed stock, you may quickly find yourself falling behind if you’re still attacking your salad when the parade of meats begins.  Depending on where in the meaty rotation your server (likely Izzy himself) is, you might start with German sausage, a nicely seasoned, not too assertive sausage with a smoky flavor.  Maybe it will be with the crispy egg rolls stuffed with ground beef.  The egg roll plating isn’t only decorative, it’s deliciously functional with swirls of a Sriracha and a soy-Hoisin sauce for your dipping pleasure.

The meat-fest features both bottom sirloin and top sirloin, two distinctly different cuts of beef from a one to two foot section of the cow.  Top sirloin, along with tenderloin, is considered one of the “better” cuts.  From the bottom sirloin comes a personal favorite, the tri-tip.  Both the top and bottom sirloin are flavor-rich though not necessarily as tender as one might think.  The meat with which I fell most in love is the panko-encrusted pork sirloin wrapped in bacon.  Panko, Japanese breadcrumbs, imbue the sweet, tender pork with a delightful crispiness while bacon imbues everything it touches with deliciousness.  For my friend Ryan, it was the Picanha, the most prized cut of meat in Brazil.  Picanha is the cap that sits on top of the top sirloin butt roast.  It’s a wonderfully beefy, magnificently marbled and superbly flavored cut of beef.

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Two chicken hearts and Tokyo style beef

For the intrepid among you (Franzi, I have you in mind here), chicken hearts are not to be missed. Probably closer in flavor to dark meat chicken than to white meat, chicken hearts have a musky offal flavor and impart a slightly metallic aftertaste.  More to the liking of most diners is Tokyo style beef, folded flank steak with the complementary contrasting flavors of soy and teriyaki for savory and sweet notes.  Among carnivores filet mignon is a universal favorite.  Often referred to as “beef tenderloin,” filet mignon is a tender cut resplendent with superb beefy flavor.  The leg of lamb is a moist, tender dark meat with a wonderful flavor and very little of the gaminess for which lamb is renowned.  One commonality among all meats is absolutely impeccable seasoning.  Every dish is served as well as it can possibly be made–an optimum in deliciousness.  You could happily make a meal of any one of the cavalcade of meats, but you’re treated to all of them.  It’s truly a carnivore’s paradise.

There are about a dozen meat offerings on the lunch buffet with filet mignon and leg of lamb added for dinner.  As an intermediary in between meats, Omira serves grilled pineapple sliced tableside.  It’s a good palate cleanser that prevents a meaty overload.  Moreover, it’s the very best grilled pineapple I’ve ever had.  Glazed with a combination of butter, brown sugar and Amaretto, it may remind you of the best pineapple upside down cake you’ve ever had without the cake part.  Seriously, this is one addictive pineapple.  Great fortune smiled upon us during our inaugural visit as the talented Sally had just prepared a loaf of pecan bread, a moist, tender and delicious post-prandial treat.  Other  desserts may be offered when you visit.

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Pecan Bread

For sheer quality and value Omira Bar & Grill may be unmatched in Santa Fe, but it’s certainly no slouch in the department of deliciousness with something for everyone to love–even if you’re “one of those.”

OMIRA BAR & GRILL
1005 South St. Francis Drive
Santa Fe, New Mexico
(505) 780-5483
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 06 December 2014
1st VISIT: 15 December 2013
# OF VISITS: 3
RATING: 24
COST: $$-$$$
BEST BET: Panko Encrusted Pork Loin Wrapped in Bacon, German Sausage, Fusion Dolmas, Egg Rolls, Grilled Pineapple, Top Sirloin, Bottom Sirloin, Filet Mignon, Tokyo Style Beef, Mediterranean Chicken Wrapped in Bacon, Picanha, Lamb Kefta

Omira Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

The Stumbling Steer – Albuquerque, New Mexico

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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.

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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 founding partners was 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.   Chef T. has since moved on, but his imprint on the menu and culinary standards remains. 

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.

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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.”

1 March 2014: 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.

Southwestern Poutine

1 March 2014: 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. 

28 November 2014:  Poutine, an artery-clogging Canadian delicacy, is to Toronto, Canada what red and green chile are to New Mexico.  In other words, it’s a long-time favorite, a tradition and a way of life.  At its very core, poutine combines three simple ingredients: fresh-cut pomme frites (French fries), homemade gravy and toothsome cheese curds.  Beyond these three ingredients, poutine is open to both interpretation and augmentation.  To my knowledge, the very first poutine offered in Albuquerque is the Southwestern Poutine (French fries, pork green chili (SIC) gravy, mozzarella cheese curds, cilantro crema, jalapeño) at the Stumbling Steer.  If you’re not into tradition, it’s actually a very good rendition.  My Kim, however, is a traditionalist and wanted actual curds in their solid form, not melted in combination with cilantro crema.  That just meant more for me. 

Crispy Pork Bites

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 were initially available as an appetizer only for dinner, but are now a mainstay in the standard menu. 

28 November 2014:  In its 10th annual Best of the City edition for 2014, Albuquerque The Magazine readers named The Stumbling Steer’s appetizers “best of the city.  Two of its appetizers were highlighted: the transformative Crispy Brussels Sprouts and for a sweeter encounter, the Fried Pork Bites “deep-fried pork belly that can be dipped in Greek yogurt and apple powdered sugar.”  It’s easy to see why Kricket is so infatuated with these grown-up chicharrones.  They’re crispy morsels of golden porcine meat and fat–sinfully decadent on their own and differently delicious when combined with other ingredients.  With the apple powdered sugar, their flavor profile isn’t so much altered as it is boosted.  The pork bites become pork candy, sweet without detracting from the integrity of the pork.  The Greek yogurt offers a cool contrast.

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Monte Cristo Porchetta

1 March 2014: 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).

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B2LT

1 March 2014: 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. 

28 November 2014: Give the Stumbling Steer an “A” for effort alone in crafting deliciously different burgers which don’t stray too outlandishly far from tradition.  The eponymous Stumbling Steer Burger is of the most creative offerings on the menu.  Starting with a half-pound of Angus ground beef, this burger is a melange of delicious ingredients: pastrami, mushrooms, onion relish and Gruyere cheese with red onions, tomato and lettuce on the side.  To maximize your enjoyment, eschew the “on the side” ingredients (the tomato is typical of the artificially ripened variety, who needs red onions when you’ve got onion jam and the lettuce is cold and wilted).  The onion relish is caramelized in the fashion that renders onions deliciously sweet and tangy.  It’s my favorite ingredient in a pretty good burger that truly takes two hands to handle.

Stumbling Steer Burger with French Fries

28 November 2014:  In recent years, America has embraced the soulful Southern staple of chicken and waffles and Albuquerque has followed suit.  Fried chicken is one of the most versatile of American comfort foods because it’s wonderful on its own and maybe even better when paired with sweet or savory partners (the old “gravy vs. syrup conundrum.”)  The Stumbling Steer’s fried chicken (breast, thigh and leg) is fried in duck fat and stacked atop a Belgian waffle with a Corn Flake streusel and real maple syrup.  The fried chicken is moist and delicious with a crispy batter (but not too much of it).  If there is one surprise in this entree, it’s the Corn Flakes streusel which should be sprinkled liberally on the waffle (or chicken) for best results.

Chicken and Waffles

1 March 2014: 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.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

1 March 2014: 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: 28 November 2014
1st VISIT: 1 March 2014
# OF VISITS: 2
RATING: 17
COST: $$
BEST BET: Monte Cristo Porchetta, B2LT, Ale French Onion Soup, Crispy Brussels sprouts, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Elvis Fudge Brownie, Southwestern Poutine, Chicken & Waffles, Crispy Pork Bites, Stumbling Steer Burger

Stumbling Steer Brewery & Gastropub on Urbanspoon