Le Cafe Miche – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Cafe Miche has been regarded as one of Albuquerque’s best restaurants since its 1996 launch and according to the Zagat Survey, was the number one rated French restaurant in the state for three consecutive years. Honored with an Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator magazine and boasting of one of the city’s best wine lists, Cafe Miche has a passionate following of faithful followers. I suspect some of them visit almost as much for the wonderful cuisine as to enjoy the company of effusive chef Claus Hjortkjaer and his statuesque wife and partner Linda, both of whom seem to know most of their patrons (and if they don’t know you, they still make you feel quite at home).

A great Dane who studied classic French cuisine in Denmark, Claus has an impressive pedigree that includes previous stints at several highly regarded restaurants in New Mexico. In 2005, he began hosting a Sunday morning radio show on a local FM station, adding to the “Miche Man’s” celebrity status. When we complimented him on that show, he remarked that anyone could do it if they’re “full of it.” Full of talent might be more like it. He can meld seemingly disparate and concordant ingredients in a complementary fashion that results in divine creations.

In 2005, Cafe Miche also began offering a Sunday brunch at the reasonable price of $19 per person without champagne or $24 per person with champagne. If you don’t care to imbibe adult beverages, be cautioned that a glass of orange juice costs $3 with no free refills. The brunch experience starts with a basket of breads with butter and orange marmalade. The bread includes a buttery croissant, banana nut bread and a traditional French bread, all of which are fresh and delicious, especially if you spread on the slightly sweet, slightly tart orange marmalade. There are three options on the Deuxieme (second) course: New Mexico grown fresh fruit served with Meusli; Vishyssoise (a potato soup served chilled) with Applewood smoked bacon, creme fraiche and fresh chives; and an antipasto plate of salami, cheese and olives. We opted for the latter two and enjoyed them very much.

Eight “les entrees” options are available, several of them showcasing creative ways eggs and sauces can be combined. The “Left Bank burritos” were a unique twist on a New Mexico standard, featuring two crepes generously stuffed with scrambled eggs, cream cheese, chives and tomatoes. Accompanied by two strips of Applewood smoked bacon and a potato cake, the “burritos” are ethereal in their light texture and blend several flavors very well . The hand-carved, whole roasted New York steak a la Diane emboldened subtly with a Cognac cream sauce and snappy caramelized onions may be even better. Nearly fork tender, the steak is melt-in-your-mouth good and complemented perfectly with Pommes Gratin.

For dessert, only two options are available but they made the brunch’s final course the meal’s crowning moment, a fitting end to a lovely meal and a great way to start the rest of the Sunday. The fairy tale cream puff a la Hans Christian Andersen with caramel and chocolate sauce arrived shaped like a swan. It was no ugly duckling in taste or texture with a requisite lightness and subtle sweetness that made it one of the better cream puffs we’ve experienced in Albuquerque. The Chocolate fantasy a la Deborah, a flourless chocolate cake was even better if that’s possible. Crafted with a semi-sweet chocolate whose flavor properties don’t so much burst upon your taste buds as they do impressing themselves slowly, this was cake to die for.

Dinner at Le Cafe Miche begins with a complimentary amuse buche of house pate with thinly sliced French bread on which to nibble while imbibing the menu. This lagniappe is just one of the many things that make this strip mall restaurant a revered dining institution.

Le Cafe Miche
228 Gold Avenue, S.W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 21 August 2005
COST: $$$$
BEST BET: Escargot,

2 thoughts on “Le Cafe Miche – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

  1. Went pre-noon today, Sunday, to “the extra day opening” of the RailYard for vendors. Whoa, felt like I stepped back into the Hippy-Dippy days of the ’60s/’70s of arts/crafts highlighted by a variety of itinerant(?) purveyors of “home-made” tamales/tacos/cider/breads, the aromas of which tantalized you with a Rocky Mountain High as they filled one of the ginormous buildings where so many had been employed keeping the railroads running.
    On my way, I passed Le Cafe Miche to gasp… it has “Re-Closed”. What’s with that?
    Whoa…couldn’t help but be impressed with the number of homeless strolling the downtown! And then there is Tent City, colorful as it may be, on 1st SW (while vacant “portables” of APS sit on 2nd NW…isn’t a housing-for-city-work program possible?). Pardon, Do/Don’t wish to lay a guilt* trip but, foodwise, this http://www.abqrescue.org/ is right around the corner from Tent City; or you can keep this de-luscious event in mind http://www.rrfb.org/souper-bowl/; or if Y’all live “up on the hill” in RR, you can drop off some bounty here http://www.stfelixpantry.org/development/ with the Nuns who attempted to teach me the art of parsimonious/terse essay writing (albeit they failed)as a lad back in MA!
    Sorry for dragging this on (Stop: undining related), but have kids/G-kids? I was always impressed with my foster-son’s double take/somber reflection (no matter how brief) when we went to tent city in the ’90s on the sidewalks just a few blocks from so-called Glitter Gulch of downtown Vegas, and my G-son’s when we did the same here in ABQ to pass out some of life’s amenities like “hand warmer packets”, a change of socks, T-paper, panchos, whatever, ((especially if ya maximized your bucks at, you guessed it, WallyMart!!!))
    *I always resent being inundated by charities this time of year!! Don’t they realize I’ve got gifts to buy and how expensive they’ve become!!!
    Thanks for your Indulgence!

  2. 9/20/13 – Re-opened about 6 months at 3rd & Gold SW : http://www.lecafemiche.com/
    – I get a chuckle when someone comments a place is noisy…I take it as a sign folks are alive and enjoying ‘interacting’ with one another instead of burying their nose in a ‘device’ texting etc. Perhaps this is also best telling you are in a place called a “bistro” and so it goes here with its dozen or so place seatings which bodes you should make a reservation particularly on the weekend, albeit there‘s a couple of Parisian sidewalk tables as well! (Wary of downtown? I saw a ‘security’ type roaming the otherwise quiet neighborhood.) Besides the classic setting sorta speak http://tinyurl.com/l9jnsaa, many seats share a view of the mystique, IMHO, engendered by the Occidental Life Building http://tinyurl.com/ly3zxqj if you’ve never seen it and its unusual Venetian Gothic Revival architectural style inspired by Venice’s Doge’s Palace.
    – Speaking of things eclectic, I was tempted to try the Shrimp Tempura, but per being my 1st visit, had to do the excellent and robust French Onion which is still preceded by a complimentary amuse-bouche pate and a vermouth apertif. Yup, had the obligatory tender, perfectly cooked Filet highlighted with Béarnaise of course, in a setting of mashed potato and veggies served by ‘traditional’ Garcons… Tres Bon Appetit (Parlez Francaise ici) Oh! “…effusive chef Claus Hjortkjaer and his statuesque wife and partner Linda…” continue Welcoming to make you feel as home.

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