Monday, August 04, 2008

Santa Fe's LUMINARIA (previously Baleen) at the Inn at Loretto is luscious

My last night in Santa Fe was supposed to be at BALEEN at The Inn at Loretto, but just two weeks ago the Hotel was sold and they renamed the restaurant, LUMINARIA (, albeit with no change in chef and only some small decor and menu changes. Nevertheless, it was a rainy evening so outside dining, which is what Luminaria is famous for, was out of the question. The outdoor patio area overlooks the famous Loretto Chapel with fountains, candles and just a real warm local flavor. Indoors, are lots of adobe colors, woods, woven chairs, pillowed banquettes and again a posh, yet traditional Santa Fe feel. Candles are all over, even on the walls and after I sat down they lit the large fire in the corner (with the a/c on) only to have to open the door to let cooler air in; so much for efficient energy use.

A tasty amuse of three 1 inch squares of JICAMA came with three toppings: Guacamole, Pico de Gallo and Pineapple Salsa with dollops of aged balsamic..YUM YUM.

I really wanted the POMEGRANATE LEMONADE made from vodka, pomegranate juice, lemonade and limoncello, but knowing the opera was ahead, I settled for a glass of wine. With only about 6 white wines by the glass, my first two requests were out of stock; not a good omen. I settled on a WHITEHAVEN SAUVIGNON BLANC 206 from Marlborough in New Zealand that had a sweet-tartness to it with lots of citrus. It was perfect with the GRIDDLED CRAB CAKE and RED CHILE-LIME AIOLI that had a punch and was splendid. The crab came from Dungeness in Washington State as well as Alaska and got a B+/A- on the crab factor, but the cake and aioli get an A+ for flavor.

My entree was a spectacular IDAHO MOUNTAIN BROOK TROUT with SAGE BARLEY, FRESH PEAS (snap, English and tendrills) in a superb ALMOND BROWN BUTTER; one of the best pieces of trout I have ever had in an oh so simple splendid sauce.

I wanted to skip dessert, but settled for the MELON SORBET TRIO (watermelon,honeydew and cantaloupe) with Toasted Coconut and Candied Lime. Each two tablespoon size scoop was just right with the watermelon more like ices, and the honeydew being my favorite due to the sweetness. The coconut added sweetness to the watermelon and the lime was a nice touch.

I had to ask for my check three times and it was getting late. The hostess brought the check and comped the dessert, wine and coffee, which was most generous since I had a coupon for a free appetizer! I made the opera with about 12 minutes to spare, but loved my meal and know I will return to Luminaria when I am next back in Santa Fe, a city I love for food, opera and so much more.