Chef John Rivera Sedlar’s Eloisa Restaurant 

Eloisa Restaurant's Chef John Rivera Sedlar (Source: eloisasantafe.com)

Eloisa Restaurant’s Chef John Rivera Sedlar (Source: eloisasantafe.com)

Much anticipated and much celebrated Chef John Rivera Sedlar opened his first Santa Fe restaurant last year after an extraordinarily successful restaurant career in Los Angeles. And I’ve been returning eagerly ever since the first days open. My most recent visit to enjoy Sedlar’s creative twist on modern southwest cuisine was no exception, except I finally managed to eat slowly enough to take photographs before inhaling his design-forward creations.

Belated Birthday at Eloisa Restaurant

A missed birthday provided the perfect excuse to try Eloisa’s new menu. No birthday cake but all manner of debaucherous dining ensued. Here’s a glimpse.

Eloisa's Cochiti Pueblo Gazpacho (Source: Geo Davis)

Eloisa’s Cochiti Pueblo Gazpacho (Source: Geo Davis)

I started with Cochiti Pueblo Gazpacho, a “chilled summer soup of cantaloupe and honeydew” melons. This creative twist on gazpacho soup was pureed into a viscous liquid as refreshing as it was beautiful. I imagine this dish would be equally wonderful for breakfast and dessert.

Eloisa's Pastrami Tacos (Source: Geo Davis)

Eloisa’s Pastrami Tacos (Source: Geo Davis)

Although my dining partner—aka “the birthday boy”—exercised greater restraint, choosing two small plates for his meal, I succumbed to temptation and doubled up my appetizers. Although much of Eloisa original menu has changed in the most recent incarnation, one of my favorites is still being offered. The miniature Pastrami Tacos are stuffed with “spicy smoked beef, sauerkraut, pickled chilies” and that unnaturally yellow mustard referred to by the chef as “ballpark mustard”. Oddly enough, it works. In fact, it really works! I’ve ordered these every time I’ve eaten at Eloisa, and I don’t intend to alter my guilty habit until they are removed from the menu. (Note: the order is served with four tiny tacos, but I wasn’t able to resist gobbling one before snapping the photo.)

Eloisa's Beef Tenderloin Tierra y Mar (Source: Geo Davis)

Eloisa’s Beef Tenderloin Tierra y Mar (Source: Geo Davis)

For my main course I ordered the Beef Tenderloin Tierra y Mar, but the chef adapted the dish to accommodate my dairy-free diet. Normally served, “wood-grilled with shrimp, potato-corn gratin, asparagus, chipotle béarnaise”, a smoky reduction was invented to replace of the béarnaise, and additional asparagus (after all, they are in season!) stood in for the gratin. The steak was marginally overcooked, but the medley of flavors worked so nicely so that I enjoyed every bite without complaint.

Eloisa's Wood-Grilled Asparagus Salad (Source: Geo Davis)

Eloisa’s Wood-Grilled Asparagus Salad (Source: Geo Davis)

The birthday boy started with a Wood-Grilled Asparagus Salad consisting of “lemon olive oil, lime cream, garrotxa cheese snow”. He was well satisfied with his generously proportioned order.

Eloisa's Crispy Oysters on the Half Shell (Source: Geo Davis)

Eloisa’s Crispy Oysters on the Half Shell (Source: Geo Davis)

For his main course he ordered Crispy Oysters on the Half Shell which arrived with a steamy aroma so tempting I almost asked for one of his half dozen delicacies. But it was his birthday, so I swallowed my greed. These “blue cornmeal-crusted fresh oysters with tropical salsa” were enormous! He romanced each oyster, only pausing when he reached the last one. After eating half he pled too content to continue and insisted that I try the final bite. Without hesitation, I accepted his offer and the still-warm creaminess melted in my mouth. Divine!

I’ve skipped the liquid refreshments, but suffice to say that several wines were sampled from the well curated wine list. And a unique cocktail to boot! Perhaps a future post will be dedicated to Eloisa’s libations… Stay tuned.

About Eloisa Restaurant in Santa Fe

Chef Rivera named his new restaurant after his grandmother and is cooking “elemental” New Mexican dishes that celebrate the traditions of southwestern women. It seems he’s off to a great start as Eloisa was nominated for best new restaurant in the 2016 James Beard Awards.

The vaguely cosmopolitan L.A. vibe seems fitting at Eloisa, which chef John Rivera Sedlar opened in the new Drury Plaza Hotel to herald his return from the City of Angels to the City Different. He named his restaurant for his grandmother, a fact you’ll learn from your menu. Sedlar pays homage to his Northern New Mexico roots by including traditional dishes — rellenos, calabacitas, carne adovada, and Frito pie — often given a creative personal spin. So many of them are remarkable in texture, flavor, and seasoning. (Source: santafenewmexican.com)

 

Eloisa pays homage to the female figures Sedlar grew up with — it is named after his grandmother and borrows inspiration from the kitchens of Sedlar’s various relatives. As a child, he was especially inspired by Eloisa – she was the artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s personal chef for 15 years – and her philosophy: namely, mastering how to make much of little. “Southwestern ingredients are limited,” Sedlar says, “but there’s a variety and dimension to them.” (Source: The New York Times)

 

Few grandmothers have had the luxury of such a regally appointed kitchen as the immaculately gleaming kitchen which graces Eloisa. It’s twice the size of the kitchen at Rivera, Chef Sedlar’s last restaurant in Los Angeles. You’ll want to be seated in close proximity so you can lustily ogle the transformation of down-to-earth New Mexican ingredients into exotic creations which both honor and elevate the Land of Enchantment’s culinary traditions. Watching the kitchen staff assiduously go about their prep work with the efficiency and synchronicity of drone bees is almost mesmerizing. Eloisa’s commodious dining room seats 120 guests inside and weather-permitting, another 65 guests on the patio. (Source: nmgastronome.com)

Visit Eloisa Restaurant in Santa Fe

You should visit Eloisa and try the mouth-watering dishes I’ve described for yourself! The restaurant is open for lunch on Monday – Friday, 11:30 – 2:30. Open for dinner on Sunday – Thursday, 5:30 – 9:00 and Friday & Saturday, 5:30 – 10:00.

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