Art In Restaurants

July 5th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

One of the nice things about living in Santa Fe is the art. Of course, there are scores of galleries (some kitsch but mostly first rate) and a surprising number of museums for a city its size. But, there’s quality art almost everywhere–in banks, restaurants, public buildings, shops, offices, etc. HG’s doctor, for example, has a splendid Dali hanging in her consulting room. One of HG’s favorite spaces is the very good Compound Restaurant on Canyon Road. In an old adobe building, the restaurant was designed by the late Alexander Girard and the sun washed interiors are decorated with a few striking pieces of primitive art. (Girard contributed 106,000 pieces to Santa Fe’s Museum Of International Folk Art). New York has some splendid restaurant art, much enjoyed by HG during HG’s long residence in HG’s once beloved city (now a theme park for the international oligarchy). The now threatened Four Seasons Restaurant in Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building has a Lippold sculpture, Bertoia curtains, and a revolving display of paintings by modern masters (The Picasso ballet curtain, alas, has been removed). There is no better place for cocktails than The King Cole Bar in the St. Regis Hotel. (HG/BSK have a special fondness for the hotel since, just abut 52 years ago, the duo had an afternoon reception in the elegant Library room following a morning wedding). King Cole, that merry old soul, is celebrated at the bar with a majestic Maxfield Parrish mural. Gaze at it in wonder as you sip a martini during your next New York visit. But, bring an active credit card. Drinks and snacks are very expensive (but worth it). Another wondrous interior is the Cafe des Artistes (now called Leopard at des Artistes).on W.67th Street. The walls are adorned with frolicking, bare-breasted forest nymphs painted by Howard Chandler Christy. Enchanting. (Some 5l years ago, HG/BSK lived next door to the des Artistes at 27 W. 67th and sometimes popped into the cafe for a drink). The long closed Jams Restaurant introduced Alice Waters-influenced California cuisine to New York. The owners, Melvin Masters and Jonathan Waxman, hung striking modern art on the walls. There are two restaurants with caricatures on the walls–Sardi’s and Palm. Sardi’s features theatrical figures and Palm has Depression era stuff by cartoonists from nearby newspapers (The artists got a free meal). Palm has restaurants throughout the country and has caricatures of local personalities (and good customers) on its walls. When HG resided in Denver, HG often lunched at the Denver Palm outpost at a booth beneath a flattering caricature of HG. Fame.


New Taste Thrills at The Compound

June 11th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

When HG is feeling particularly festive, the ever hungry oldster manages to forgo the lunchtime treats of Menudo, Chicken Enchiladas, Carnitas, Arroz con Pollo, Posole, Green and Red Chiles that are always available at El Parasol and Sopaipilla Factory in the HG/BSK New Mexico neighborhood of Pojoaque. Instead, HG and BSK dude up a bit and lunch at The Compound on Canyon Road in Santa Fe. Beautiful, restrained decor (by Alexander Girard) in a landmark Southwestern building. A few pieces of good art on the white, plastered adobe walls. Usually, HG/BSK chooses among three specialties: Stacked Salad (very savory variation on the California Cobb salad); crispy Chicken Schnitzel with a caper, lemon and parsley sauce with sautéed spinach; Wild Mushroom Saute with Organic Stone Ground Polenta with a side of Arugula with Shaved Parmesan. Splendid victuals. Today, BSK opted for the mushroom/polenta dish while HG delved into the unexplored side of the menu. HG had a very sumptuous Spiced Panko Crab Cake served with frisee, Old Bay aioli and a small bouquet of sweet herbs and fennel seeds (gave a nice, unexpected bit of crunch). The crab cake was loaded with high quality lump crab meat with just enough Panko to hold it together. Best crab cake dish HG has ever had. Dessert was equally unusual: Black Pepper Sorbet. Cool. Creamy. A love bite of spice. Summing up: The Compound lunch is superb and moderately priced. The wine by the glass list is thoughtful. The light. The seating. The clientele composed of elegant ladies who lunch. Deft service. Quiet voices (unusual in the Land of the Free and Brave). The Compound is a don’t miss experience.

Compound, Santa Fe

Home Sweet Home

October 4th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Back to the sun drenched HG/BSK New Mexico paradise. Adding to the splendor of mesas and cliffs are the trees in all their Fall glory — a resplendent golden shimmer. The Santa Fe Farmers Market remains lively, colorful, eccentric. The air is filled with the smell of roasting chilies. The best little chilies in the world — Shishitos and Patrons — sizzle in pans so customers can sample. Shisitos are skinny (and can back some heat). Patrons are plump, succulent and mild. HG and BSK sampled Patrons in Madrid (where they are a staple at bars and bistros) and became instant converts. Also at the market: ripe tomatoes; tiny fingerling potatoes; green onions; leeks and other good things.

No corn. Few apples. These autumn glories seem to have been knocked out by the destructive forest fires that plagued New Mexico this summer. Lots of music at the market including a guitar and bass fiddle duo that played and sang the best version of an HG country favorite — “Dixie Cannonball.”

And, the people crowding the market? As diverse and outrageous as ever. A reasonable sampling of former movie stars — now properly matured. As a sage Hollywood observer once reported: “At a certain age there is a choice. Santa Fe or Forest Lawn.”

Trader Joe’s Really Sails.

July 13th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Trader Joe’s in Santa Fe is a hoot. Talk about diversity. TJ’s staff and customers represent every variety of cult, color, costume, age, beauty (and its reverse). Good humor, helpfulness and a post-hippie buzz pervades the market. TJ’s is HG’s source for French-trimmed pork chops, surprisingly good New Zealand lamb chops, buffalo mozzarella, brown tomatoes (yes) and hummus. Lots of very good cheap wine. Also, a big time red at $13-$16. Avoid the famed Two Buck Chuck wine. Plonk.

Shibumi. Ramen Delight. Highly Unusual Orgasms, Etc.

April 6th, 2011 § 4 comments § permalink

HG and BSK lunched today at Shibumi Ramenya in downtown Santa Fe (Johnson and Chapelle, to be precise). Perfection in every detail — decor (Japanese rustic); service (suave); food (sophisticated but earthy). There’s spicy pork gyoza, some creative Japanese vegetable tapas (burdock root, black seaweed, sesame spinach and bunapi mushroom). And, there’s the little bistro’s raison d’etre: Ramen with four distinct broth styles: Tonkotsu ramen with roasted korobuta pork; Torigara with roasted chicken; Kaisen with shrimp and Yasai with vegetables. HG and BSK had the Tonkotsu Ramen and it had flavors in depth — a powerful and multi-layered broth, perfect noodles (excelling in both spring and smooth mouth feel) and roasted pork slices that seemed a marriage between belly and loin. The cutlery, spoons with long wooden handles and a capacious bowl married aesthetics with function. Prices are moderate. The cash policy (no credit cards) helps keep it that way. The proprietor is Eric Stapelman. He also owns Trattoria Nostrani, an adjacent Italian restaurant. Nostrani’s menu is superb and HG/BSK will be dining there soon and posting a report.

Stapelman has the reputation of not tolerating disrespect for his food, personnel, or restaurant. And, he won’t have perfumed folk. Good. HG’s kind of guy. All of my favorite restaurant men (Henri Soule at Pavillon in New York or Sidney Kaye at Russian Tea Room, also in New York, behaved that way). Viva Stapelman, Don’t change.

SJ reminded me that Shibumi by Trevanian (a one name author) is the title of one of our favorite good/bad novels (“Godfather” tops that category). The protagonist of “Shibumi” is a assassin/stud named Nicolai Hel (he can kill in a hundred ways including a method using the edge of a playing card). So powerful is his sexual magnetism that he and his beautiful girl friend achieve simultaneous orgasm simply by looking at each other in an intense manner. Commented SJ: “Wow. What would happen if they actually did it?”

Enjoy more conventional (but intense) pleasures at Stapelman’s “Shibumi.”

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