Joseph's of Santa Fe
On Friday night I dined at one of Santa Fe's most buzzed about new establishments called Joseph's which has only been open for about five weeks. Chef Joseph Wrede is well-known in these parts for his cooking at a number of restaurants in Taos and Santa Fe, most recently as head chef at Tomme. I had never eaten at any of his establishments before, so I was very excited to see what all the hoopla was about. Well guess what, the dude can cook! Our meal was one of the most creative meals I have eaten in a long time.
Let's get right to the menu. It's small, innovative, but unfortunately, not well written. We had to ask lots of questions because the menu was a confusing list of ingredients and contemporary terminology. Did you know "dust" is the new "foam?" Fortunately our waiter was super kind, knowledgeable and attentive. After some discussion we ordered three appetizers.
First we tried the grilled polenta with the warm chicken liver mousse, Parma Prosciutto, crispy shallots and parsley oil. It was heavenly. The polenta was creamy with a lovely crust and the mousse was delicious. The Parma Prosciutto was a bit problematic as it was too thick and not crisp and impossible to cut. The parsley oil and shallots worked as a subtle garnish.Very nice. Next we tried the Rock shrimp and smoked butter Sautee with crispy whole wheat phyllo and sherry wine Beurre Blanc. The five shrimp were cooked perfectly, the phyllo was nicely browned and crisp and the dish had a well balanced feel. Our final appetizer was the winner, pulled veal cheeks and olive oil herbed vinegar with house made crackers, Ricotta Salata, and dried apricot chutney. It was sort of a new take on an Asian lettuce wrap. The flavors were fresh and exciting. The only downfall were the homemade crackers which were bland and unnecessary.
The portions were ample and the plates were beautifully presented. Every plate, knife, fork, spoon, and glass, were well chosen. Warm homemade bread and herb butter were a welcome change from the usual LaBrea or Sage Bakehouse rolls.
For main dishes, we tried the duck confit and the Rabbit lasagna. Both were excellent. The duck confit was well-seasoned and quite large. It was served with Puy lentils and a fine dice of roast veggies. It also came with a small ramekin of yummy sweet pear jam. I felt a sauce with a bit more acid would have been a better choice, as duck tends to be a bit fatty and needed some contrast. The rabbit lasagna was super rich and amazing. The rabbit was braised to perfection. We were not able to finish it even by sharing it. Actually, I could have finished it, but we were saving room for dessert.
We called over our waiter again to answer more questions. Turns out three of the items listed as cake were not cake at all. Have you noticed most desert menus in this town don't include any actual baking? We tried two items: the warm chocolate bistro cake and the trio of sorbets. The chocolate cake was huge. It was served in a pool of chocolate syrup which tasted like Hershey's and topped with a little mascarpone. Unfortunately it was very dry. The sorbets were very interesting. Lemon thyme, orange basil and cilantro lime. Hands down, the cilantro lime was the winner. So fresh and tart and the texture was perfect! The other two were a bit bland and full of ice crystals. Perhaps a little tweak of the formula would help.
All in all, it was an excellent meal. I look forward to going back and trying more items. Congratulations Joseph's on a great beginning! Has anyone else been there yet?