Tonight's dinner was at the O'KEEFFE CAFE in the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in downtown Santa Fe (www.okeeffecafe.com) and it was a very rewarding experience, save for the fruit flies (they loved my Pinot Noir!). The indoor area has adobe painted walls with O'keeffe photos and prints, wooden floors, crisp white linens and red leather booths and matching chairs (an homage to Georgia?)
The food leans towards Southwestern, but not with too many hot spices. Chef Carmen Rodriguez actually could put some more chilis in for my tastes. The super wheat bread (again from Sage Bakery) was served with oil mixed with aged balsamic and garlic, and a tiny amuse of seared tuna with ginger cilantro aioli was a nice small bite.
I opted to try the two flights of whites and reds that were offered as "comparisons of the same grapes from different regions." First came 3-3ounce tastes of SAUVIGNON BLANC. The 2005 Honig from Napa was the least exciting and was mildly grassy; it served as my aperitif. The 2004 PETIT BOURGEOUS from H Bourgeous in the Loire was the biggest with lots of minerals, a fuller taste and a perfect wine for food. I drank this with my COCONUT TEMPURA SHRIMP with Amor y Pasion Dipping Sauce. The shrimp were crisp outside and moist in, but the sauce was a bit too sweet for me..this was where the chilis would have done well. I drank the 2005 KIM CRAWFORD Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough in New Zealand in between courses as it was so refreshing with its intense grapefruit taste (this would have been a disaster with the sweet passion fruit dip).
For my entree the PINOT NOIR tasting offered 2-3 ounce tastes each of 2005 ST. CLAIR also from Marlborough (NZ) and 2004 CHATEAU ST JEAN in Sonoma. The latter had a smaller nose, but a huge taste in the mouth with aftertastes of coffee. The former had a huge nose, b ut was a bit wimpy in the mouth, but fruity.
My special entree of SPICE ROASTED QUAIL (2 whole birds, boned) and Spicy ELK SAUSAGE with Tomato Basil Risotto and Wilted Spinach was a huge and tasty portion. The meats needed no sauce as they were so tasty and well seasoned.
As I finished my entree a couple sat down next to me, in a virtually empty restaurant and the woman proceeded to lambast the chipped glass (that was cleared away anyway since she didn't order red wine). She proceeded to complain about the lipstick on her white wine glass; I loved the wonderful Riedel stemware! Oh well.
I had to order dessert, even though it was huge and I only finished half of my yummy STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE which was supposed to have White Chocolate Sauce (but came with Dark) and Strawberry Coulis. The cake was set on a graham circle as was a more Italianate dry cheesecake with lumps of creamy cheesecake embedded within making it less rich than expected, a big plus.
The espresso was superb, and I spoke extensively to my server Ben from Oregon about his state's wines and look forward to bumping into him in NYC where he will move soon. What a nice experience.