The Chili Stop – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

The Chili Stop knows its chile

The Chili Stop knows its chile

NOTE:  On November 15th, 2008, Ron Chavez sold the Chili Stop a mere four months after making green chile a religious experience.  I have not visited the Chili Stop since it changed hands and have heard mixed opinions on the Chili Stop post Ron.  I will update this review after my next visit.

Over the years it’s been my experience that almost invariably, New Mexican restaurants which violate traditional New Mexican grammar don’t prepare the object of their grammatical faux pas very well.  The grammatical transgression of which I speak is forgetting the “i” before “e” rule and committing the piquant peccadillo of spelling New Mexico’s official state vegetable with two “i’s” and no “e’s.”

It’s entirely forgivable that chile is technically a fruit, albeit one which packs an incendiary capsaicin punch, but like many New Mexicans, I feel personally insulted when presented with a menu offering “chili.”

That abhorrent spelling brings to mind something long-time New Mexico senator Pete Dominici supposedly once said on the Congressional record. Not one to mince words, “Saint Pete” is credited with saying “chili” is “that inedible mixture of watery tomato soup, dried gristle, half-cooked kidney beans, and a myriad of silly ingredients that is passed off as food in Texas and Oklahoma.

When Dale, a faithful reader of my Web site suggested I try The Chili Stop for a “great green chile cheeseburger,” my initial reaction was to question the authenticity of the product based solely on the spelling on the marquee. My preconception was cemented by the fact that the Chili Stop occupies the western side of the edifice which once housed the now defunct Bombay Grill and previous to that, a Chinese restaurant. The building still more closely resembles a pagoda than a restaurant, much less one that serves New Mexican food.   There’s a saying about assuming that would be appropriate here.

Salsa and chips

Salsa and chips at the Chili Stop

The inimitable aroma of green chile wafted toward us as we approached The Chili Stop. No ordinary green chile was this. The aroma was reminiscent of green chile roasting on a comal. Only the hissing and spitting of blackening chiles was missing.

The green chile which captivated us was simmering on a stove. We didn’t need to taste it to know it would be absolutely wonderful. The aroma was enough to make our mouths water. The chile, as it turns out comes from the Deming area in Luna county, an area not nearly as famous for its chile as Hatch, more than a hundred miles away. Perhaps it should be.

The Chili Stop is owned by Ron Chavez who moved back home to Albuquerque after retiring from the Los Alamos scientific laboratories. An avuncular gentleman, Ron has absolutely no compunction about the spelling of his restaurant’s name. His brother, a retired teacher who made several trips to South America told him “chili is a vegetable and Chile is a country,” a contention backed up by several sources. I couldn’t argue. Well, I could have, but feared he wouldn’t serve me any of the amazing siren-like chile tantalizing my nostrils and teasing my taste buds. For some of Ron’s chili, I’d spell it “chilly” if he wanted. It’s that good!

Green chile

Green chile--the very best in Albuquerque, maybe New Mexico!

The Chili Stop opened in June, 2008 in the 900-square-foot area which once served as the Bombay Grill’s kitchen. It is situated in the same building as the Arte de la Mano salon and has seating for only a few patrons.  Within weeks after launching, Ron received offers to expand his business to Rio Rancho and other parts of the Duke City. Though he plans to mull over those offers, he also plans to keep his inaugural restaurant venture.  Within weeks, he was also contacted by the Food Network who had heard about his fabulous green chile.

During his years in Los Alamos, Ron opened and sold four restaurants and introduced the breakfast burrito to the city on the hill nearly 30 years ago.  The reason his business will thrive is some of the very best green chile I’ve had in years. If, like me, you’ve lamented the lack of truly outstanding green chile in Duke City restaurants, you’ll love the Chili Stop.

The secret is in the way the deliciously earthy chile is prepared. It’s simmered for hours as called for in a secret recipe that’s been in the family for more than 35 years. This is green chile that packs a punch, the way it’s supposed to. Despite the “anglicized” name, this is no gringo chile (no offense intended).  A bowl of green chile will clear your sinuses. It’s served with ground beef and can be topped with shredded cheese to cut the capsaicin bite if you wish. You can also have it with New Mexico’s other official state vegetable, frijoles.

One of the best green chile cheeseburgers in New Mexico!

One of the best green chile cheeseburgers in New Mexico!

Prop your elbows on the table and your face as close to the chile as you can because you’ll want to imbibe all the aroma and all the flavor you possibly can from the neon green chile that will captivate you. The burning sensation will generate an endorphin rush that will remind you why you fell in love with green chile in the first place.

As Dale succinctly put it, the green chile cheeseburger is great–as in maybe the “best in the Duke City area” great. It’s at least as good as the green chile cheeseburger at Perea’s Tijuana Grill & Bar in Corrales. That puts it in rarified company as one of the best green chile cheeseburgers in the universe!

This burger starts with about six ounces of hand-formed beef topped with the traditional burger standards: mustard, lettuce, pickles, tomato and of course, phenomenal green chile nestled between sesame seed buns. It is a handful of moistness–about three napkins worth–and explosive flavor.

Here’s a secret only long-time New Mexicans know–the very best green chile cheeseburgers are served not in restaurants, but in the carnivals and fairs held throughout northern New Mexico.  The Chili Stop’s green chile cheeseburger is much like those served at carnivals. It would be easy to fall into the trap of having either or both the burger and a bowl of green chile, but that would be passing up too many other terrific menu items.

Cheese enchiladas with an egg on top

Cheese enchiladas with an egg on top

One of the “not to be missed” items are cheese enchiladas with a fried egg on top. If you prefer meat enchiladas, I would still recommend ordering the cheese enchiladas because there is beef a plenty on that outstanding green chile. The enchiladas are stacked, the way they’re made in Northern New Mexico. North, south, east or west, they really are among the very best!

The salsa is fresh and piquant at about medium thickness. The chips are relatively low in salt and more than capable of scooping up large quantities of salsa–if your tongue is laced with asbestos. The salsa is almost as piquant as the green chile.

The menu also includes both soft and hard-shelled tacos as well as a Navajo taco Ron’s staff raves about.  The soft taco is engorged with ground beef, shredded cheese and your choice of red chile. The hard-shelled taco also includes lettuce and one of the small touches that’s a difference maker in my book–cheese atop the meat so it can melt NOT atop the lettuce.

The Chili Stop is open for breakfast starting at 6AM. Breakfast burritos are featured fare. Unless you request otherwise, the burritos are hand-held, a large tortilla engorged with potatoes, eggs, bacon and of course, that soon to be legendary green chile.  You can also have your breakfast burritos smothered.   Have one (or two) for breakfast with a Diet Doctor Pepper and the endorphin rush will carry you through the rest of the day.

Over the years I’ve derided the spelling “chili” and am finally ready to eat crow about it and accept the fact that it’s not the spelling that counts, but the flavor. Of course, the crow would have to be topped with some of the Chili Stop’s fabulous green chili.

The Chili Stop
3600 Highway 528
Albuquerque, NM

LATEST VISIT: 7 November 2008
BEST BET:Salsa & Chips, Green Chili Cheeseburger, Hard Taco, Soft Taco, Green Chili, Breakfast Burrito

California Baja Grill – Rio Rancho, New Mexico (CLOSED)

California Baja Grill

California Baja Grill

Several years ago, I introduced my good friend John Bennett to the exhilaration of verbal sparring with the shopkeepers at the mercados of Juarez, Mexico, a vibrant border city in which aggressive bartering is considered not only an honorable sport, but the only way to ensure any semblance of a fair exchange. The shopkeepers expect it and will respect your attempts to purchase their baubles, bangles and trinkets at the price you believe is fair.

When John decided to bring back some Mexican coins for his son, a novice numismatist, I advised him to get no more than a quarter’s worth of coinage. As usual he didn’t heed my advice and asked one of the shopkeepers to exchange a five dollar bill for as many coins as it would buy him. Not only did he clean out the shopkeeper’s register, the exchange rate being what it was, John wound up weighing down all his pants and shirt pockets with coins. Struggling to keep his pants up, he jingled all the way back across the border, looking and sounding like a circus clown in the process. He’s never lived down the experience.

As we studied the menu at California Baja Grill & Bar in Rio Rancho, I wondered if some of the prices were in pesos not in dollars. It’s not everyday you see seafood entrees–even in landlocked Albuquerque–priced in the mid-forty dollar range. Then again, it’s not everday you find seafood of the high quality and astounding quantities of the seafood entrees served at the city of vision’s first mariscos restaurant.

We didn’t quite know what to expect as we approached the shopping center edifice which for years served as the home of Weck’s in Rio Rancho. “California cuisine” is a pretty overarching term that covers everything from fish tacos which are all the rage in the San Diego area to the sophisticated culinary fare of San Francisco to the grunions which are caught by beach goers as they (the grunions, not the beach goers) flop on shore to lay their eggs.

Salsa and chips

Salsa and chips

You’ll have a better clue as to what this restaurant is all about as you’re being escorted to your table. Decorative fishing nets and other marine-life accoutrements evince clearly that the restaurant specializes in mariscos, or Mexican seafood. One rear wall is dedicated to the golden bear flag of the great state of California and to what appears to be the shirt of a sports team emblazoned with the name of the city “Chicago” with the subtext “California Baja Grill.” Potted faux coconut trees and their hard-shelled fruit are positioned throughout the restaurant.

You won’t be seated long before a small bowl of salsa and a basket of chips and crackers are delivered to your table. The salsa is somewhat watery and at first appears to have virtually no piquancy. It’s got the kind of heat that sneaks up on you and before long your tongue may catch fire. The chips are low in salt and perfect for dipping into the salsa because, thin as it is, you won’t be able to scoop it up.

Tostada Mixta

Tostada Mixta

The menu includes an entire pageful of ceviche, some of which may send you into sticker shock. Three of the ceviche offerings are priced at just under $25 for a medium portion and only a penny less than $45 for a large portion. We were assured the portion sizes were prodigious, but if you don’t want to empty your wallet or purse to confirm that, order a tostada de ceviche.

Make it a tostada mixta, a melange of fish, octopus, imitation crab and shrimp atop a crisp tortilla shell. all invigorated with lime, cucumber and tomato. Shrimp is an oxymoron for this delicious decapod. What is delivered to your table are some of the largest, most crisp, fresh and delicious crustacean you’ll ever have on an order of ceviche. They are wholly unlike the tiny shrimp you generally find on Mexican ceviche.

Prodigious purplish hunks of octopus and sweet imitation crab complement the shrimp well. What makes the seafood special is that it’s allowed to shine on its own accord. It’s not dominated by the tartness of lime or the acidity of tomato. It’s equally, deliciously briny and sweet, a real treat.

Empanada de Camaron

Empanada de Camaron

Shrimp is a specialty of the house at the California Baja Grill and it’s prepared in various ways. One unique way is enrobed in a light, flaky cornmeal crust–empanadas de camaron, or shrimp empanadas. These individual-sized empanadas are engorged with sweet, succulent shrimp and served with a green salsa with even more piquant potency than its red counterpart. That piquancy is the perfect countermand for the sweetness of the crust and shrimp. These empanadas are a genuine treat and can be purchased by the half or full dozen. You’ll want to take some home with you.

Mariscos Siete Mares

Mariscos Siete Mares

Shrimp is but one of the terrific ingredients in another specialty of the house, Caldo Siete Mares(Seven Seas Soup). Other ingredients include octopus, crab legs, fish, mussels, scallops and an entire langoustine. Langoustine, if you’ve never had it, is sometimes known as Norweigian lobster and indeed it does resemble its larger cousin, albeit with a thinner shell and slimmer body. Even more than lobster, langoustine has a sweet, subtle flavor and delicate texture.

The crab leg is sliced down the middle so you can easily extricate its sweet meat. The mussels are of the New Zealand green lip variety while the scallops are fleshy and tender. The broth is imbued with the flavors of the bounties of the sea, but it’s also meant to be flavored with red onion and chile de arbol. Pinch the chiles so the chile “dust” and seeds fall into the broth for an excitingly piquant flavor complement.

This Caldo Siete Mares is served in a swimming pool sized bowl (it has to be that large to accommodate all the ingredients). It’s the only caldo of its kind we’ve had in the Albuquerque area which isn’t in dire need of desalinization. That allows for flavor discernment and appreciation the way it’s meant to be.

Camarones Costa Azul

Camarones Costa Azul

Still another terrific shrimp entree are the Camarones Costa Azul, shrimp wrapped with bacon strips then smothered with cheese and a sauce of sauteed green and red peppers and onions on a chile enhanced, tomato based sauce. This is an entree not usually served with a sauce and more often than not, it’s an entree as dry as an early summer day. California Baja Grill’s rendition is probably the best we’ve had in the Duke City area. It’s rich and flavorful, replete with complementary and contrasting sweet, piquant and savory flavors.

This entree is served with rice and beans, both of which are quite good. The rice is cooked perfectly with each kernel seemingly separated from the other and not clumped like rice is sometimes apt to be. It has a nice, buttery flavor. The beans are mashed, but not refried. It’s another restaurant specialty.

The California Baja Grilled is owned by several business partners out of the Mexican state of Nayarit on the Pacific Coast. The group has ambitious plans for their restaurant and has leased the space next door which they will use as a sort of Mexican style, family-oriented sports bar connected to the restaurant. The only thing that might put a damper on their plans is lack of patronage. It’s ensconced in a low-trafficked area and is not well known. That hopefully won’t be the case for long because this is a special restaurant which should be around for a long time.

California Baja Grill
1690 Rio Rancho Blvd, #B
Rio Rancho, NM

LATEST VISIT: 28 July 2008
COST: $$$
BEST BET: Camarones Costa Azul, Tostada de Camaron, Caldo Siete Mares, Empanada de Camarones

The Old House Gastropub – Corrales, New Mexico (CLOSED)

The Old House Gastropub

The Old House Gastropub

There’s a European joke that uses stereotypes to deride British cooking, one of the most maligned cuisines in the world culinary stage.

As the joke goes, in the European conception of heaven, the French are the chefs, the British are the police and the Germans are the engineers while in the European conception of hell, the Germans are the police, the French are the engineers and the British are the chefs.

When it comes to the culinary arts, England is the Rodney Dangerfield of Europe; its cuisine receives absolutely no respect. English food is regarded as bland and unimaginative, especially when compared with the haute (and haughty) cuisine of France.

Having spent three years in England and having partaken of wonderful food throughout the Isles, I rise to the defense of this nation’s maligned food. We found English food to be inventive and delicious.

Rebecca Carter, the heart and soul of the Old House Gastropub

Rebecca Carter, the heart and soul of the Old House Gastropub

We left England about four years before the term “gastropub” was coined, but the concept had actually already started to be practiced and proliferated. A gastropub is a British term for a public house (pub) which specializes in high-end, high-quality food. The term gastropub, a combination 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 dining 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.

Cambridge, England born Rebecca Carter and her husband purchased the venerable Casa Vieja restaurant in 2005, but only three years later did they change the restaurant’s name and concept. The name “Casa Vieja” has actually been retained, but it has been subordinated under its English translation.

Visitors are quickly discovering that the gastropub concept really fits the Corrales pace and lifestyle. So why the change?

Just like English food, stereotypes were attached to the name “Casa Vieja.” Both tourists and locals assumed that, because of the restaurant’s Spanish name, everything on the menu would include chile. As a result, tourists avoided the restaurant while locals expecting New Mexican food may have left disappointed.

Blue crab claw meat Queso served with tortilla chips

Blue crab claw meat Queso served with tortilla chips

The “Old House” dates back to the early 1700s and is one of the oldest buildings in Corrales, contemporaneous with the founding of Albuquerque. The original walls are constructed not of adobes, but of of thick slabs of earth called terrones. Some walls are 30-inches thick.

At its largest, the building has been described as a 20-room, E-shaped hacienda. A chapel was said to be located at the west end of the 55-foot long room of the house. Although original vigas still support the roof, many of the latillas in the ceiling have been replaced.

During its early years, the Casa reportedly served at various times as a stop on a stagecoach route, a military headquarters for the Spanish, a courthouse, the headquarters for a cavalry unit, a tuberculosis clinic and even a nudist colony.

Until several years ago, it still had gun turrets high on one wall of the chapel, the edifice’s oldest room. When the Casa served as a courthouse, defendants would be tried then marched down Corrales Road with bystanders throwing food and rocks at them. When they reached what is now the Rancho de Corrales restaurant, justice would be meted out on the famous hanging tree.

From 1999 until July, 2005, the Casa Vieja was home to chef Jim White who became somewhat of a local celebrity by hosting short cooking segments on two Duke City television news programs.

Garlic shrimp and chorizo served with Focaccia bread

Garlic shrimp and chorizo served with Focaccia bread

The departure of chef White began a new era for Casa Vieja. In place of the peripatetic and effervescent chef were new owners from England of all places.

Rebecca Carter is the heart and soul of the Old House Gastropub. An indefatigable whirling dervish, she has crafted an imaginative and very ambitious menu unlike that of any restaurant in the Duke City area. It is, in fact, one of the best menus in the state!

That wide-ranging menu includes sandwiches and salads as well as steaks and burgers with an assortment of desserts and pastries. The menu is seasonal, reflecting the “fantastic diversity that the full culinary year has to offer” and it is affordable.

Perhaps not since Noah’s menagerie of beast and fowl has there been such an eclectic range of meats as what is offered at the Old House Gastropub. In terms of variety, these meats may be unsurpassed in the Land of Enchantment. They include yak, wild boar, buffalo, kangaroo, ostrich, quail, pork and Kobe beef.

The Old House Gastropub is open continuously for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Brunch is served on weekends starting at 10AM. There are few milieus as inviting and relaxing as the patio where centuries old trees provide cooling shade from the heat of the day (not to mention the ubiquitous winds).

The restaurant’s philosophy is simple–“to delight you with exceptionally delicious and well-prepared meals that are also created with conscience.” After two meals in two days, I’m ready to proclaim “mission accomplished.”

Our inaugural visit to the Old House Gastropub elicited the type of epiphany-like response we rarely have any more. Not only were we thrilled to find an exceptional menu, but its execution was flawless. If anything, there is such tremendous variety in the menu that it was a challenge to pare down to a select few. There’s no doubt frequent visits are in order.

Tenderloin of wild bor served with a pear and golden sultana chutney

Tenderloin of wild bor served with a pear and golden sultana chutney

The “Casa Favorites” section of the menu includes thirteen items, some of which can be classified as appetizers and others as entrees. They include traditional English fish and chips offered, unfortunately, with American type fries. Rebecca jokes that English fries can be tossed against a wall where they would stick. Despite their flaccidity and “stick-to-itiveness” we love English chips and the way malt vinegar complements them. American chips just don’t cut it with malt vinegar.

The Casa Favorites section also includes a blue crab claw meat queso served with tortilla chips that puts to shame most con queso in the Duke City area.

The queso is flecked with genuine New Mexico green chile, courtesy of Rebecca’s chef from Socorro. The green chile has a nice roasted-on-a-comal flavor and just a hint of piquancy. The queso is creamy and rich.

The blue crab claw meat is sweet and delicious though parsimoniously meted out. Any more might have altered the flavors of this excellent con queso.

The tortilla chips are made from flour tortillas cut into triangles then deep-fried. They are reminiscent of the tortillas served at El Bruno, one of the state’s best New Mexican restaurants.

The standard queso, by the way is terrific as we found out during our second visit. It’s not gloppy or gooey as we’ve found in several New Mexican restaurants which serve queso with chips.

Sliced sirloin steak with baby spinach, red onion and Stilton blue cheese in a toasted hoagie roll

Sliced sirloin steak with baby spinach, red onion and Stilton blue cheese in a toasted hoagie roll

The salsa is chunky and made with great ingredients–white onion, jalapeno and rich, red tomatoes. It’s the type of salsa locals will appreciate for its high quality and tourists will appreciate because it won’t excoriate their taste buds with piquancy.

Appetizers include garlic shrimp and chorizo served with focaccia bread. This appetizer packs a real punch with more piquancy than the queso or salsa.

A broth flecked with smoky and spicy chorizo is seasoned with the refreshing herb combination of rosemary and oregano. A relative of the mint family, rosemary imbues foods with a “woodsy” fragrance, but in quantity, can overwhelm the food it is meant to complement.

The optimum amount of rosemary and seasonings are used in this memorable broth into which several plump garlic shrimp are added. You’ll dispense of those shrimp quickly then will dredge up every bit of the savory broth with the focaccia.

If soup is more to your liking, the menu includes three standard offerings plus a soup of the day. One of the daily standards is green chile, the official soup of the state of New Mexico.

Try the garlic soup for something refreshingly different. This is tempered garlic which won’t be emitted through your pores. It is smoky and just a tad sweet. The soup is somewhere between a thin broth and a thick soup. It is comfort food embodied.

The entrees section of the menu is where many of the exotic meat offerings can be found. Heading this section is a wet-aged, grain-fed Kansas bone-in prime rib-eye steak served with a Jim Beam reduction which can be had for $50. It is the most expensive item on the menu though other prime cuts of beef are upwards of $30.

If the tenderloin of wild boar served with a pear and golden sultana chutney is any indication, the Old House Gastropub’s preparation of meats is top-tier.

Three medallions of wild boar served at medium are as tender a cut of meat as you’ll find anywhere. Boar is a lean meat with only a very slightly discernable gaminess. It is also surprisingly light, not dense and fatty like some game meats tend to be.

The pear and golden sultana chutney reminded me that one of the things we’ve missed most about English cuisine is all the wonderful chutneys. France can have all their sauces. I’ll take chutneys any time.

The tenderloin is served with the chef’s vegetables of the day which will hopefully be the garden-fresh medley pictured above. A choice of starch is also available, including mashed Yukon gold and red potatoes with chives sans gravy.

An impressive array of sandwiches is available for budget-conscious diners who like to venture into the realm of the creative sandwich world. Sandwiches are served with your choice of a small dinner salad, cup of soup, French fries or potato salad.

Thick-sliced rashers of Applewood smoked bacon, sliced hard-boiled egg, tomato and mayo on a toasted Telera bun

Thick-sliced rashers of Applewood smoked bacon, sliced hard-boiled egg, tomato and mayo on a toasted Telera bun

The sliced sirloin steak sandwich with baby spinach, red onion and Stilton blue cheese on a toasted hoagie roll is a winner thanks to premium quality ingredients. The sirloin steak is tender and of prime steak quality with a surfeit of flavor and juiciness at about medium done.

Stilton is an intensely-flavored blue cheese with veins of pure pleasure. It can overwhelm or greatly improve anything to which it is added. Coupled with the light, sweet flavor of red onion and the slightly acerbic flavor of the baby spinach, this sandwich couples items which go together very well to form composite greatness.

Ascribe greatness to the sandwich crafted from thick rashers of applewood smoked bacon, sliced hard-boiled egg, tomato and mayo on a toasted Telera bun. Telera, a Mexican flat bread is flat and crusty, a perfect canvass for a sandwich. This sandwich, in particular, is fashioned from moist ingredients (tomato and mayo) complementing dry ingredients (bacon and hard-boiled egg) to form a marriage made in sandwich heaven. It is an early favorite.

Garlic soup

Garlic soup

Burger aficionados will fawn all over the gourmet burger offerings. Each burger is crafted on a toasted Telera bun with lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion on the side along with your choice of a small dinner salad, soup, French fries or potato salad.

Your biggest challenge will be in deciding whether to have ostrich, Kobe beef, Colorado yak, wild Alaskan sockeye, buffalo, wild boar or a Portobello mushroom burger stuffed with mozzarella and sage.

You can get around that delicious dilemma by ordering the mini gourmet burger assortment which includes one of each yak, buffalo, Kobe and ostrich mini burgers served with cheeses on mini-rolls.

The yak burger is grilled rare to medium-rare and is topped with Gjetost cheese, a uniquely flavored cheese that is both strong and sweet with notes of caramel and goat’s milk. At rare to medium-rare, the yak is richly flavored and delicate with a flavor reminiscent of beef, but with one-sixth the fat and 40 percent more protein than beef.

The ostrich burger is also grilled rare to medium-rare and is topped with a French brie cheese. Like the yak, ostrich meat tastes similar to lean beef and it is low in fat and cholesterol as well as high in protein, iron and calcium. Uncooked, it is a darker than beef, so at rare to medium-rare, that color is readily apparent.

English sticky pudding

English sticky pudding

It’s been my experience that it’s not the flavor of rare to medium-rare beef that will turn off proponents of charred meats. It’s usually the texture that will get to them. At rare, the beef is seared on the outside and red and cool on the inside and loose to the touch.

The Kobe burger is also grilled rare to medium-rare and is topped with Gruyere cheese. I’ve long contended that to put Kobe beef on a burger is to desecrate one of the most unctuous, delicious and rich meats there is. The Old House Gastropub’s rendition did little to change my mind.

The most enjoyable burger among the quadrumvirate may well be the buffalo burger grilled at about medium and topped with a mature Cheddar cheese. Buffalo meat is very high in essential fatty acids that can aid in the reduction of cholesterol levels. It is also rich and delicious.

Desserts include English sticky pudding, a lush muffin-like mound of bread pudding topped with a rich caramel. It’s a high-calorie indulgence rich in flavor and deliciousness, one of our favorite desserts from the old country. Rebecca’s version is as good as we remembered ever having in the Cotswolds.

For a few hours each visit, the Old House Gastropub takes us back to the England we knew and loved–the England in which outstanding food can be enjoyed. Best of all, you can enjoy the best of England under a canopy of New Mexico’s blue skies.

The Old House Gastropub
Casa Vieja
4541 Corrales Road
Corrales, NM

LATEST VISIT: 8 June 2008
COST: $$$
BEST BET: Blue Crab Claw Meat Queso, Garlic Shrimp & Chorizo, Sliced Sirloin Steak Sandwich, Tenderloin of Wild Boar

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