There are varying accounts as to the genesis of wine-making in the United States. While it is widely acknowledged that as early as the 1500s Spanish and French Huguenot settlers in Florida began making wine with a native grape known as muscadine, efforts to plant the classic grapes used to create the great wines of Europe failed because of pests prevalent in wet climates. It wasn’t until Spanish Missionaries discovered the dry climate of New Mexico in 1629 with its sandy soils that the first European Mission grapes brought over from Spain were planted in what is now the United States. The original grape stocks supposedly remain the source of many of New Mexico’s vinters to this day.
Sources relates that in 1629, Franciscan friars planted the first vineyard (for sacramental wine) in New Mexico in defiance to Spanish law prohibiting the growing of grapes for wine in the new world. Those first wines were planted on the east bank of the Rio Grande slightly north of the village of present day San Antonio by Fray Gracia de Zuniga, a Franciscan monk. Despite conflicting accounts, one fact appears incontrovertible–New Mexico is among the oldest wine-making regions in the country.
Today the fruit of the vine is cultivated in more than 5,000 acres throughout the Rio Grande valley. St. Clair Winery, situated in the fecund Mimbres Valley is the state’s largest winery. Thanks to day and night time temperature variances that can range by as much as 30 degrees and a growing elevation of 4,500 feet, the winery is reputed to grow some of the best grapes in New Mexico. Forty different types of grapes produce several award-winning wines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Syrah.
The Deming-based winery sits on several hundred acres and has a 500,000 gallon capacity distributed among seventy different wines under eight labels. It is among the 100 largest wineries in the United States with an annual production of 80,000 cases of wines. Its grapes are trucked from its 200-acre vineyards fifty miles away just outside Lordsburg. At the winery, the grapes are filtered and pressed. Some are barrel-aged for as long as 18 months. In the January, 2010 edition of New Mexico Magazine, the great Lesley King profiled the wine-making process at the St. Clair Winery for her monthly (and much missed) King of the Road feature.
In 2005, St. Clair Winery launched a wine-tasting room and bistro on the outskirts of historic Old Town Plaza and on the site of the now defunct Rio Grande Cantina. Bacchus would be proud. An extensive wine list showcases St. Clair wines which may be enjoyed in the bistro or the stylishly appointed wine bar. The wine shop also features some of our favorite gourmet offerings as well as wine accessories. St. Clair Bistros can also be found in Las Cruces and Farmington in addition to the tasting room in Deming.
The bistro’s menu is a vehicle for the diversity of St. Clair wines which are used to accentuate the sauces and gravies on most menu items as well as salad dressings and even the bistro’s signature soup d jour. The menus describe the best wine pairings for the bistro’s delicious French country dishes. An old-world style dining room and spacious outdoor patio provide an enjoyable venue for generally very good dining. That outdoor patio is one of the state’s best venues for al fresco dining with an expansive dog-friendly space cooled by both sun-shielding canopies, towering deciduous trees and misters spraying water in the air. Rivulets of glistening water cascade down a water feature to provide further illusion of cool temperatures.
Many lunch and dinner entrees are served with the house bread, a wonderful loaf accompanied by an herbed (parsley, thyme, garlic) butter. It’s a delicious, crusty bread enlivened by a terrific butter. That bread is the perfect canvas for the bistro’s panini sandwiches. Other sandwich options include the Southwest Tuna Melt, Pot Roast Sandwich, Bistro Dip and a Meatball Po’ Boy. There are three burgers on the menu including a flame-roasted green chile cheeseburger made with Hatch green chile. Burgers are constructed from premium certified Angus ground beef (ten-ounces) made to your exacting specifications.
11 September 2021: One of the best precursors to a meal at the bistro is the nosh plate (selection of meats and cheeses, artichokes, olives, an ancho chile brownie, local Mesilla valley sweet and spicy pecans, crackers, crostini and seasonal fruit) which over the years has undergone multiple transformations. When first offered, guests were allowed to select three from among ten different cheeses to enjoy with Kalamata olives (thankfully pitted), grapes, chunks of chocolate, mango chutney and homemade crostini. The platter was generously portioned and easily sated two diners. Today turophilies (someone who is obsessed with cheese) can still order the nosh and enjoy a wide-variety of surprisingly high quality cheeses. The nosh plate is artisinal in its presentation and delightful in its variety, albeit no longer as prodigious as it once was. Intended to be a “light snack,” the cheese nosh is beautifully plated and colorful.
During our visit in September 2021, the nosh plate showcased cheeses with unique personalities in terms of taste and sharpness, texture and appearance. Those cheeses were: Sage Derby, a mild, semi-hard cheese with a sage flavor and green veins characteristic of sage being added to the curds; Brie, the best known French cheese with a complex flavor and soft texture; and whipped feta, a softly spreadable cheese showcasing a pungent sharpness. The cheeses are quite good especially when judiciously paired with palate cleansing berries. Despite a palatable piquancy, my Kim raved about the ancho chile brownie and its fudge-like texture.
One of the many things we’ve appreciated most over the years is how often Lescombes changes up its menu. Unlike at other restaurants, these menu changes don’t necessarily appear to be seasonal. While change provides the variety of choice we enjoy, it’s also meant some of the items we’ve most enjoyed aren’t available during future visits. Still, the opportunity to experience new dishes is one we cherish. Menus are segmented logically into small plates, appetizers by another name but large enough to share; salads, each a melange of fresh greens and other ingredients; soups, including a “soup of the moment;” bistro bowls served for lunch; signatures, fish, meat and pasta entrees; and sinful, desserts to die for.
11 September 2021: Comedian Jim Gaffigan quips that “One of the benefits of eating salad is that you can eat tons of it and never be satisfied.” Aargh! As a salad lover, my Kim rises to the defense of salads. Yes, despite wonderful meat, fish and pasta options on the menu, my unpredictable bride will occasionally eschew them to experience complete satisfaction with salads. Her most recent favorite is the summer berry salad (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, heritage blend lettuce, shredded parmesan, toasted almonds and mimosa dressing. While the berries are fresh and delicious, the real star of this salad is the mimosa dressing. You’ll want at least two portions of this tangy-sweet summery dressing.
11 September 2021: Merriam-Webster defines carbonara as “a dish of hot pasta into which other ingredients (such as eggs, bacon or ham, and grated cheese) have been mixed.” Though for most of us, carbonara is a rich and creamy white sauce, the aforementioned (and very broad) definition leaves a lot of opportunity for interpretation. Until our visit to Lescombes, for example, we had never had spicy seafood carbonara (fresh Salt Spring Island mussels, shrimp, mushrooms, applewood smoked bacon, cream sauce, linguini and Parmesan). Not nearly as rich as other carbonara dishes or as piquant as fra diavalo, this version is a very pleasant surprise. The linguini is perfectly al dente and studded with red pepper flakes and crispy applewood smoked bacon. The mushrooms lend earthy qualities that pair magnificently with the seafood. This is one dish we hope will remain on the ever-rotating menu.
12 September 2021: Because they have an inherent balance of savory and sweet flavors, mussels are a great vehicle for building complex and delicious flavors that highlight memorable meals. Mussels can be the centerpiece of a variety of dishes simply by diversifying the aromatic ingredients you choose to add. Steaming them releases a briny “nectar” which lays the foundation for a sauce. Despite these admirable qualities, mussels are often considered the black sheep or Miss Congeniality of the shellfish world, typically rating below lobster, crab, clams and shrimp. Lescombes might just change your mind as to how good mussels can be.
They do so by offering Drunken Mussels (fresh Saltspring Island mussels, Semillon butter sauce, spinach, red onion, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and grilled bread), a small plate that belies the notion that there’s anything small about this dish. That’s especially true of its flavors. Huge, complex flavors playing more notes than an orchestra titillate your palate and elevate the mussels to rarefied air. Saltspring Island mussels, grown in British Colombia, are larger, more meaty and juicy even than their Prince Edward Island counterparts and there isn’t a dud among them. Make sure to have plenty of bread on hand to dredge up all that delicious sauce.
12 September 2021: Perhaps indicative of changing times and tastes, Jetsetter published a feature naming the “20 Best American Comfort Foods” in America and that list didn’t include pot roast. No pot roast! What kind of list would exclude pot roast? A list of more contemporary, less anachronistic dishes apparently. Among the 20 comfort foods on the list were loco moco, sancocho, Brunswick stew and the garbage plate. All good, but they’re not pot roast. Had the journalist who wrote the Jetsetter feature tried Lescombes’ country pot roast it would have ranked near the top of the list.
The country pot roast (braised in merlot, carrots, celery, Yukon gold mash and brown gravy) is an exemplar of comfort food. Tender tendrils of succulent beef braised in merlot, a versatile red wine, will water your mouth in anticipation of more. This is melt-in-your-mouth stuff, as good as you’ll find in Ireland. My Kim, who likens gravy to effluvia, sopped up every scintilla of that gravy. The carrots and celery were worthy accompaniment for the type of pot roast that makes the perfect comfort meal on a blustery day.
12 September 2021: In a hilarious episode of Hogan’s Heroes, French prisoner of war LeBeau made a Béarnaise sauce plaster as a cure for Colonel Klink’s flu. When a Luftwaffe doctor came to check on Klink’s condition, he mistook the aroma of Béarnaise sauce for rich food Klink was eating. Just being around Béarnaise sauce is enough to whet the appetite and maybe convert a vegan or two. A variation on Hollandaise, one of the five French “mother sauces” Béarnaise is a traditional sauce for steak. It’s not exactly easy to make because it involves ingredients that don’t play well together.
Lescombes Steak Béarnaise (filet medallions, grilled shrimp, Béarnaise sauce, Yukon gold mash and vegetable medley) is a far better vehicle for Béarnaise than applying it as a plaster over Colonel Klink’s chest. If two inch-thick filet medallions and four succulent shrimp covered in (almost enough for Gil ) the pale yellow Béarnaise sauce with its green herb flecks sounds good, wait until you taste it. You might just want to cover yourself (or a special loved one) in the rich, creamy, slightly lemony sauce.
Whether you’re an oenophile (someone who appreciates and knows wine) or a gastronome around town, you’ll find both creative and delicious wines and very good food at the St. Clair Winery & Bistro, a French country treasure in Old Town Albuquerque.
D.H. Lescombes Winery & Bistro
901 Rio Grande
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 12 September 2021
# OF VISITS: 6
BEST BET: Nosh Platter; Jackson Square Bread Pudding, Pasta del Faro, Sebastien’s Wine Steak, Flat Iron Steak, Pomegranate Chipotle Pork Salad, Green Chile Mac and Cheese, Spicy Seafood Carbonara, Summer Berry Salad, Drunken Mussels, Country Pot Roast, Steak Béarnaise
31 thoughts on “D. H. Lescombes Winery & Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico”
I love Cafe Dalat. And James is the best!
I have been to Dalat, Vietnam. Wonder how many of your readers have? I’m not trying to be an elitist here but the moment you travel to the source of a cuisine your opinion will change forever. Witness Gil and Carbonara; not sure Gil’s ever been to Italy? Correct me if I’m wrong Gil.
James has had to alter his dishes to meet the New Mexican palate. For example, Bún Bò Huế. An amazing palate-transforming soup of brothy innards in which James has had to remove the innards to please the New Mexican palate. Are New Mexicans wrong? No, just under traveled. If New Mexicans traveled to Asia – Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, or Malaysia – maybe their culinary compass would be a broader scope.
Anyway, all you out there
Well, I guess, Gil, with no response tells me you haven’t been to Italy. This subject brings up the ongoing debate between an origin of dish and a version (some say bastardization) served out of country of origin. I think if you look at the history of cuisine in America it has been a story of adoption and adaptation right down the line.
Belgian Waffle. French Fries. I remember my first visit to France I ordered “French Fries.” You mean, “Pommes frites” my waitress barked back. It would have been the equivalent of a Frenchman ordering an “American hamburger” at a cafe in the States.
At the end of the day, Gil, be careful how you you expand the interpretation of international dishes without at least honoring the origin of the dishes.
The carbonara conundrum has become Gil’s Thrilling Rasputin with no surcease to time and energy being wasted.
“No response tells me you haven’t been to Italy.” Had you given me the benefit of a doubt, my no response might have told you I was up north visiting my 91-year-young mother….and that because I’m still gainfully employed that my 50+ hour a week job keeps me pretty busy.
“At the end of the day, Gil, be careful how you you expand the interpretation of international dishes without at least honoring the origin of the dishes.” Perhaps you should dispense this advice to the many restaurants across the Duke City who interpret carbonara in ways that hardly honor the origin of the dish. It would have been very easy for me to attack every one of those restaurants for their heretical interpretations, but what’s the point.
You might enjoy this except from a taste featured called “Who Called the Carbonara Police:”
It’s been bubbling up for a while now. First came the carbonara recipes with pancetta or bacon instead of guanciale. Then the spaghetti started to shape-shift, taking the form of instant ramen, udon, and even pizza crust. Later, a hodgepodge of other vegetables, meats, and alliums started to make their way into the mix.
I’ll be honest. I’m part of the problem. I once baked some eggs into a lasagna and called it carbonara. But I’m reaching a point where I’m not quite sure what carbonara is anymore. This week, certified Italian food expert and chef Sara Jenkins took on the recent carbonaraissance and made the argument that pasta rules are meant to be broken and even the most traditional classics are meant to evolve over time.
It’s a good thing pasta rules CAN be broken or most of us would end up in jail.
Yes, I read Jenkins piece earlier in the week. Very good writer she is. I think you left out a key point she made about molesting classic dishes:
“In the end, what bugs people (myself included) is the misnaming of the dish. No one cares, I hope, if you want to eat ramen noodles with melted Kraft Singles and a poached egg or add fresh peas to the standard dish—they care when you want to call it “carbonara,” because even with a certain amount of flexibility, it’s not carbonara anymore when you change it that much. Make whatever you want! And if it’s not carbonara, just call it something else.
I think Jenkins would have called the dish you described in your review “pasta with spicy seafood” rather than “Spicy Seafood Carbonara,” don’t you think?
It’s not just carbonara that’s been bastardized to the point of being unrecognizable. Japanese visitors to this country wouldn’t recognize what’s been done to sushi. American tastes lean toward the innovative over the traditional.
With just a slight alteration to the ingredients Lescombes’ spicy seafood carbonara could have been a very good far diavolo.
I assume you meant ‘Fra Diavolo” not “Far Diavola”? More over, I don’t think what you ate was true fra diavolo either. Do you?
(1) “The original grape stocks supposedly remain the source of many of New Mexico’s vintners to this day. ”
Not true. The original grapes in the US were of the vitis lambrusca genus. Grapes as we know today from Europe which make up the “noble grapes” are vitis vinifera. Example: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling.
(2) “St. Clair is reputed to grow some of the best grapes in New Mexico.” Shall I spend energy disputing this or just let it go?
(3) “At the winery, the grapes are filtered and pressed.” The crush (pressing the juice away from the stems ; skins for whites) is done before the “filtering.”
Curious to know if you tried any of the wines? If so, how did they pair with your dishes?
With that, I will leave it to you and Becky to resolve the “carbonara brouhaha.”
(1) The original grape stocks to which I refer are those of the vitis vinifera, the grape stocks planted south of Socorro by Franciscan monks. I thought that was pretty clear, but I was sober when I wrote that. Sources are pretty consistently that the first wines made in the US were from muscadine grapes. While grapes of the vitis Lambrusco genus may predate muscadine grapes, these grapes were not used for wine until somewhat later.
From New Mexico State University: Grape Vine planting was hindered by Spanish Law which in 1595 forbid the exportation of Spanish grape vines to protect the Spanish agriculture industry. At the time Spanish wine exports provided one fourth the foreign trade revenue of Spain. Franciscan Monks chose to ignore this economic law and smuggled vines out of Spain into New Mexico around 1629. Fray Gracia de Zuniga, a Franciscan, and Antonio de Arteaga, a Capuchin monk planted the first vines at a Piro Indian Pueblo just south of modern day Socorro New Mexico. The cuttings brought by the missionaries were of Vitis vinifera, commonly called the “mission grape”. This variety is still grown in New Mexico today.
From New Mexico True (New Mexico Tourism Department): Finally, out of either rebellion or desperation, obedience to the Spanish ban on grape exports came to an end. In 1629, Fray Garcîa de Zuñiga and Antonio de Arteaga smuggled vines out of their home country and planted New Mexico’s first grapes in a field just south of modern-day Socorro—and we are so thankful they did. The variety that was planted is currently known as the Mission grape and is still grown in New Mexico today.
From NM Vintage Wines: In Spanish Exploration in the Southwest, 1542–1706, Herbert Bolton writes “Priests in the Mesilla Valley were growing grapes for the production of wine almost a hundred years before grapes were ever planted in California. Agustin Rodriguez, a Franciscan friar, is credited with bringing the Mission grape, Vitis vinifera, possibly from Mexico, to southern New Mexico in 1580.”
From the University of California Press: The first reference to the actual making of wine in what is now the United States is in the report of his voyage to Florida in 1565 by the rich and respectable pirate Captain John Hawkins, afterwards Sir John. In 1564 the French Protestant Admiral Gaspard de Coligny had sent out a colony of Huguenots to the mouth of the St. John’s River in Florida, and there, at Fort Caroline, Hawkins found the wretched survivors a year later on the verge of starvation. Hawkins sold them a ship and left them food, noting with some disapproval that, though they had failed to grow food for themselves, yet “in the time that the Frenchmen were there, they made 20 hogsheads of wine.” It must, one supposes, have been made from rotundifolia grapes—that is, from the muscadine.
(2) Let it go.
(3) The process I described was as documented in New Mexico Magazine. The only wine pressing with which I’m familiar is from an episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy and Ethel stomped grapes in Italy.
(4) We didn’t try any of the wines. I was driving.
You are hired as my researcher for my next piece!
A mistake I made that you continued: it’s vitis labrusca (Lambrusco is the name of both an Italian red wine grape and a wine made principally from said grape). I was under the impression that the Mission grape was categorized in the vitis labrusca genus but in fact it is, as you say, in the vitis vinifera genus.
A North Carolina note: The Scuppernong is a large variety of muscadine , a species of grape native to the Southern United States. The oldest cultivated grapevine in the world is the 400-year-old Scuppernong “Mother Vine” growing on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. I plan to visit it next month.
Finally, you wax wonderful about the wines of St. Clair. Have you ever tasted them?
In deference to the erudite and extinguished comments above and below herein and per my occasional occurrence or intrusion of being tadly dyslecix, I will defer mixing of the cabronara being its an Italian dish while discussing Spanish roots of New Mexican wine.
Speaking of not going too far afield, it would seem relevant to note no one has planted a seed for, as seen here: St. Clair (as now LesCombes(?)) Hatch Green Chile Wine. Of course if we were to go there, then we’d have to expand to actual Chilean wines and possibly their provenance!
[Pardon: peeled Green Chile yesterday and may still be high on Capsaicin (phenolic amide) fumes.]
Aforementioned St. Clair Green Chile Wine: https://tinyurl.com/27fctdzp
[Sorry…use of hotlink didn’t ‘take’…LOL]
Gil, I’ve recently noticed an increasingly liberal or downright incorrect interpretation of carbonara, and the “Spicy Seafood Carbonara” you enjoyed is certainly a misnomer. And I do not agree that “carbonara” leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
For sure, carbonara is not prepared with cream sauce which is a white sauce made with butter, flour, and cream or milk that’s also known as bechamel, one of the five basic mother sauces of classical cuisine. Authentic carbonara is never made with a cream sauce and also does not ever include seafood. Properly made, hot cooked pasta is immediately combined, off direct heat, with raw eggs or egg yolks, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, ground black pepper, and fried pancetta, guanciale, or, sometimes in the U.S., bacon. Carbonara requires some dexterity in preparation due to the need to avoid curdling the egg while still serving the dish warm.
I suppose the substitution of cream sauce for raw egg is used in kitchens lacking the skill or ability to handle the nearly split second timing required to serve a true carbonara but in the end, it’s not carbonara.
It’s certainly not Gil saying “carbonara” leaves a lot of room for interpretation. I’m clearly saying that Merriam-Webster’s definition leaves a lot of opportunity for interpretation.
To wit: Merriam-Webster defines carbonara as “a dish of hot pasta into which other ingredients (such as eggs, bacon or ham, and grated cheese) have been mixed.” Though for most of us, carbonara is a rich and creamy white sauce, the aforementioned (and very broad) definition leaves a lot of opportunity for interpretation.
Gil, the Merriam-Webster definition was general but not erroneous. I don’t wish to get into a food fight here but you did say “…for most of us, carbonara is a rich and creamy white sauce” – which admittedly surprised me because I thought you were including yourself in the “us”. Maybe that’s the usual way carbonara is prepared in New Mexico? Anyway, I apologize for any misinterpretation / misunderstanding.
It’s my understanding that carbonara sauce is traditionally made with eggs, parmesan, and cured pork called guanciale. Though carbonara is thought of as a rich and creamy sauce, a classic recipe will not call for cream. Some recipes will add a splash of cream at the end of cooking and others make it with heavy cream, ignoring the rules of tradition entirely. I don’t think “for most of us, carbonara is a rich and creamy white sauce.”
I think Becky is standing guard of the traditional carbonara recipe. Americans (New Mexicans?) may know carbonara as a heavy cream dream.
Gil, just catching up with the Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy series. In episode two, filmed in Rome, the “classic Carbonara” recipe by the chef is only four ingredients: pasta, guanciale, Pecorino Romano, egg yolk. That’s it. Not even olive oil as the fat from the guanciale suffices.
The classic recipe doesn’t “leave room for interpretation” other than (1)the type of pasta, (2) bacon for guanciale, (3) Parmigiano for Pecorino. In fact, Stanley mention “adding cream” during the preparation and the chef shot him a look as though Stanley had just raped his daughter. The only thing more offensive to the Roman chef would have been mentioning “spicy seafood carbonara.”
You’re absolutely correct that the “classic Carbonara” recipe does not leave room for interpretation, however, Merriam-Webster’s definition does: “a dish of hot pasta into which other ingredients (such as eggs, bacon or ham, and grated cheese) have been mixed.” “Other ingredients’ alone could be interpreted very loosely…fruit carbonara, pho carbonara, etc.
Have you seen the series? If so, care to give an opinion?
As a vehicle for introducing the culinary culture of Italy’s diverse regions, it’s an outstanding show. It should not be a vehicle for political commentary. We get enough of that crap from the news media and don’t need to revisit it on a travel-culinary show.
Oh, by the way, is a dictionary such as Merriam-Webster a key resource for you when seeking culinary definitions? I typically consult Wikipedia for everything but often, after a deeper dive, it turns out to be incorrect.
Let’s take, Carbonara, for example, what other sources did you consult for the definition? I guess I’m asking what sources would a food historian or recipe researcher seek for culinary definitions?
I first encountered carbonara in 1978 at an Italian restaurant in Boston and have been hooked ever since. For nearly the entire year of 1993, my every Friday treat was carbonara from Salavetti Brothers in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. It’s still the very best I’ve ever had.
I consulted various sources not to learn what carbonara is or should be, but to find a definition that gave Lescombes enough latitude to name a seafood dish “spicy seafood carbonara” when that dish more closely resembles seafood fra diavalo. Merriam-Webster’s definition certainly did that.
Whoa! Haven’t been in a couple of years (per a sizeable price increase in the past, LOL) Nice greeting. Woodsy(?) ambiance continues in a capacious space that has been thoughtfully designed to provide for distinct areas approaching an airy coziness of tables and booths which also offers the possibility for a gathering of more than a couple of couples kinda separately. For tonight, had the Filet Medallions, grilled shrimp, Béarnaise sauce, roasted fingerling potatoes, vegetable medley. The 2 medallions were nicely grilled/charred with a reddish pink center as requested. Nice steak tastiness. For the 19 dollar charge, the tenderness is worthy! While interesting, the shrimps aren’t necessary for me….would’ve enjoyed a bit more of their Bearnaise instead…but that’s just me. The ‘taters and veggies were a fine compliment as well as the bread and tasty…as well as spreadable/herbed…butter. As always, service was attentive with a tasting offering of one of their new wines and including my choice of a Riesling. Lastly, one of few places with pleasant al fresco dining with live music if ya check the schedule, and indeed, there is a dedicated space for choosing eponymous wines for take-home with staff available for informative choices.
I’ve frequented this particular bistro for many years and enjoyed exceptional service until tonight. Bread wasn’t warm, waitress was sloppy and forgetful. The manager offered to help with cold bread and then disappeared. To top it off, the sloppy waitress shorted me on change, which resulted in me leaving her no tip. I tasted my friends steak. It tasted like it was cooked in a dirty skillet. Not what I’m used to from this place.
The wines were way too sweet for me to order a meal. Nothing approached dry. And they have almost no beer menu as an alternative. (Usually I get stuck going here with friends who love the place, and don’t mind sweet wine, since the patio is nice.) The cheese sampler was okay, not great. A rating of 18 is about right – Gil didn’t mention the sweet wines that probably tempered his score.
I have only been here for lunch but I LOVE the Southwest Tuna melt. Who would have thought a tuna melt could be open face with a green chile on it. Add to that the avocado and I am loving it. It is also cooked correctly, not over done as most fish is here in NM.
Although everyone elses food looks and tastes great I always get this.
Per price “adjustments”, I withdraw my previous recommendation.
Gil, I ate here last night for my birthday. Having read several very less-than-stellar reviews on Urbanspoon.com, I confess, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As it turns out, my friends and I had an enjoyable experience. The service was good (save for some confusion with the check at the end), the wine, of course, was excellent. I ordered the prime rib, which was tender and flavourful. Sadly, some of the menu items you mentioned in your review are no longer on the menu – unfortunate, I think. Still, a good dinner. Worth the jaunt across I-40 to get there. Definitely worth a second trip.
Stumbled upon St Clair and had a quick lunch here today with Jane as we were scurrying off to yet another appointment.
Add the Cuban Panini to the list of the finest Cubanos in ABQ.
The Jackson Square Bread Pudding is magnificent, and has made it into my top five (replacing Cajun Kitchen’s version, which is now #6). Jane allows that JSqBP is the very best she has ever had.
Here’s my revised BP list as of Jan 22 2011:
1. Barry’s Oasis
3. St Clair
4. Two Fools
5. Indigo Crow.
Well, am starting another year of several munchings just a block south of I-40 in this casual comfy, but tastefully appointed winery/bistro with several settings for seating from “extroverted” to cozy, i.e. it’s not just one large room. Prices are in the $12-19 range across the variety of munchables.
Alas, I really need to resolve to explore more as I seem to be in a rut of eating this here and that there. At St. Clair’s, the lemon buttery, grilled salmon on wild rice is my perennial choice despite several tempting entrees on the menu. Awhile back, a meat n potatoes friend had the Beef Forestiere and praised it to the umbrella top as we sat (just to let you know of it) on the patio…and that was in spite of having it medium well!
This past Friday, the place was packed by 6 and there being a not so convenient parking lot might say something about folks possibly liking the food beyond the prices, ambiance, and wine… IMHO.
Besides the food and wine listings on the website, you will also find which combo is playing on which night of the week:
First of all the wine is tops, great wine – great price – available in many places. Favorites are Riesling and the Gewurztraminer. Now, about the restaurant… first time we visited I had the Pasta Marinara, I think they missed a step, the meatballs were pretty much raw. Manager was very appologetic and I went with the Chicken Marsala, I would rate that pretty high, very tasty. Also had the Kobe burger, my first… very good.