Thursday, May 14, 2009

Props for Mauka...

I love food.
I love dining out. I love being waited on. Mostly, I just love food. I always have and thankfully, I have had several wonderful experiences with food.
On Monday, I arrived in Santa Fe with high hopes of finding a new restaurant. I had eaten at the Shed, Los Mayos, La Boca, Pascual's for breakfast, Paul's (while it was open), Il Piatto, Geronimo, The Compound, Del Charro's, O Eating House and Coyote Cafe--several times. My friend, Ben, was the sous chef and so I had awesome meals there for a time. I have eaten at Geronimo, multiple times too and have always been happy with the outcome.
This time, though, I wanted to try something new. Melody met me at the Pink Adobe. We had a glass of white wine and shared the dip sampler--guacamole, salsa and cheese dip. The cheese dip was lame, but I enjoyed the salsa and guacamole. We sat outside and enjoyed the ambiance. I wasn't inspired by the menu and so we considered other options.
I asked our server where she would dine, as I tend to do. I like having the local's perspective, especially if they enjoy food, like I do. Sometimes it works in my favor and other times, I hear--you should go to Chili's--Yuck!
Anyways, our server mentioned Mauka and continued with--it is awesome, but not open on Monday. She recommended trying 315 Wine Bar or La Casa Sena. We tried the wine bar and it was nice, but the service lacked. Granted, we sat at the bar and there wasn't a true bartender. However, the guy said we could sit there and so we did. I ordered a bottle of wine, which he opened, and then, he never refilled our glasses. I can serve, myself, I don't mind, but I don't want to pay someone if they are unattentive.
Regardless, the meal was nice. We started with basil wrapped shrimp, continued with tuna and finished with pots de creme--lovely.
Tuesday, we decided to meet for dinner at Mauka. I found the location on Agua Fria, scouted out the parking situation and called her. There isn't much parking, but the Sanbusco is next to it, and there is ample parking there. I arrived and saw that there weren't many diners. I saw an open bar and asked the server if we could sit there. The best part of the bar was that you could see the chef preparing food.
I ordered a bottle of wine and we bagan with grilled calamari. I think the grilling sold me since I haven't had grilled calamari. He paired it with grapefruit, purple cabbage and avocado. I was in heaven.
We shared a hawaiian fish, opa-might be mispelled--and pork belly. I loved the pork belly. It was amazing. Edamame, asparagus and blue foot mushrooms accompanied the pork. I loved it. The fish was nice.
The chef, Joel, was engaging and friendly. Mauka has been opened for a year and it is doing mostly word of mouth advertising. If anyone that reads this is going to Santa Fe, please go there. It is amazing and worth it. The best seat in the house, is by the kitchen, watching the chef in action.
We finished with oatmeal stout coffee ice cream and a french press. It was the nicest way to conclude the evening.
True, it was Tuesday, Santa Fe was slow, but I enjoyed being able to hear all about Mauka--his vision, their hope and of course, sampling the food.

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