Saturday, May 22, 2010
Day 1 of Santa Fe
Monday morning, I woke up, late, and lethargic. Normally, I prefer driving, early, anywhere, that I am heading. This trip, I woke up at 7 a.m. I made coffee, ate pineapple cottage cheese--skipped the breakfast burrito (which I really wanted)--packed, loaded my car and was on 1-25 south by 9:15. In traveling terms, it was a late start. But, the rush hour traffic extends from 6-9ish in Denver, and I wanted to bypass as much of the stop and go traffic as I could. I was still stuck in some of it, but it wasn't terrible.
Monday was an ideal day to drive. I headed past Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and finally, the found the open road. Little traffic, blue skies and the ability to enjoy it, all. I considered detouring at Walsenberg and heading to Taos. Really, I did. But, then, I thought about the pool/hot tub at my hotel and that won. I continued on 1-25 and arrived at 2:30ish.
Always craving chile and missing the breakfast burrito fixation, I tried the fare at the hotel. They had a chicken/chile quesadilla. I enjoyed the pico de gallo and the chiles were great. I am not a fan of dark chicken. It is a texture thing. I picked around the dark meat and ate some of the quesadilla. I had dinner plans with Melody and needed a snack.
The Hotel Santa Fe was a nice hotwire find. Parking, internet, clean and immediate service justified the 4 star rating/price. I would stay there, again. The food was okay. They had complimentary coffee located on the 2nd and 3rd floor, from 7-10 a.m., which I felt, was another perk in their service.
Anyways, I checked into my upgraded suite and made my way to the pool. Small, but not many people were making use of it. I loved the hot tub. I utilized that amenity on two days of my stay. Bravo for the hot tub!
I checked in with Melody regarding dinner. She had mentioned the Compound or El Farol. Honestly, we have dined, a lot, in Santa Fe. It was a Monday which further limited our options. I thought about returning to Coyote Cafe or Geronimo. I love both of those spots and know they consistently deliver an excellent meal/experience.
However, I did want to explore. I had been to the Compound for lunch and knew it was solid. I wasn't inspired though. El Farol is a tapas/live music venue. Very fun, I want to say, but I was in the mood for high end.
I read an article in National Geographic about how to spend 48 hours in Santa Fe. The author mentioned Max's. Supposedly, the chef, Brian Rood, is going to be the next big thing in Santa Fe. Intrigued, I wanted to go there. Or, Restaurant Martin. Martin's place wasn't open on Monday and so we opted for Max's.
According to another article on the place--provided by the hotel's restaurant listings, kudos to them for another resource--the place was busy and a reservation was necessary.
I called and set one up, for 7:15. Melody and I decided to meet at the restaurant. We walk up and enter the small space. Cute, eclectic and hip.
The menu was small. They utilized their ingredients in appetizers and entrees. I liked that fact, but it limited some of our choices. We started with a root vegetable salad. Crisp, colorful, light. The perfect way to start the experience.
For entrees, we shared scallops and shrimp and grits. The scallops were accompanied by oyster mushrooms and served on thinly sliced potatoes. The mushrooms were amazing. The scallops were cooked well and huge. I liked the shrimp, too.
Overall, the food was dynamite. I kept hoping for other diners to enter the restaurant. They didn't. We had our servers undivided attention. We bored him--I think, and I was disappointed in his service. They offer 1/2 off bottles of wine on Mondays. I chose a bottle that was off and I knew it, immediately, but I thought I could suffer through it. The bottle wasn't corked. It was, as I like to call it--Rainbow Brite. There is a chemical imbalance and I wish I could describe it better. The lack of character or why it is unappealing to me.
Midway through the appetizers, I mention that, yes, I am really not enjoying my wine choice. I asked the server to try it. He did. He wasn't a sommelier and did not claim to know wine. However, he didn't think anything was wrong with it.
The entrees arrived and I asked for a bottle of malbec. Much better and more suitable for our meal. I was happy and the other bottle remained on the table. I told him that we wouldn't drink it since it was off.
Anyways, we conclude the meal with coffee and dessert. I get the bill and he charged me, for everything. I felt that I had made it, abundantly clear, that the wine wasn't good. Granted, I told him that I would pay for it. I feel that in this situation, I would have adjusted the tab in a different way....maybe get the dessert. He didn't. I was surprised. Especially, since we were the only table in the entire restaurant, for the night.
I would return. I enjoyed the food. Sometimes, people do not wine or how to please. Yes, I am fine with paying for the wine. I ordered it and said it was okay. I know, from experience, that I should go with my gut instinct. Upon trying it, I knew that I didn't like it. I need to find a better way to explain Rainbow Brite to others....This isn't the first time with it, either. I had a bottle of Prisoner, with Tiffany, Ben and Alison that also displayed the Rainbow Brite Quality. Walking away from that dining experience, I asked a sommelier friend of mine how to get out of the situation. He advised me to be honest with not liking the selection and know that they establishment can always get a credit for the bottle. I don't know. There must a solution.
Day one ended with a small walk back to the hotel and the promise of an early morning run, followed by a massage. Road trip, so far, was a success....