Radish & Rye Restaurant

Radish & Rye farm inspired cuisine in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Last night my bride and I ventured over to Radish & Rye (radishandrye.com and @RadishandRye), a newish farm inspired restaurant in Santa Fe. Simply put: it was awesome! Great eats, drinks, ambience, and service.

Located in the former location of Ristra (one of my Santa Fe favorites looong ago), Radish & Rye’s decor and overall atmosphere is minimalist but elegant. The mood is calm and laid back but not sloppy. Our waiter was attentive and knowledgable, several times consulting the kitchen to ensure that our orders could be balanced with our dietary restrictions. Both our waiter (Dario) and the chef (David Gaspar de Alba) were friendly and accommodating despite requests to alter ingredients, etc.

Potables and Comestibles

I felt briefly like I’d eaten my meal backwards, starting with desert, but the bourbon quickly anesthetized any sense of guilt.

Radish & Rye’s menu is heavily meat-based, initially posing some challenges for my vegetarian bride. She was thrilled with the abundance of local, farm fresh veggies, and she easily cobbled together an exciting meal. My gluten free and dairy free restrictions posed more challenge with the signature cocktails menu than the victuals.

Radish & Rye is proud of their expansive bourbon collection, and they offer up an imaginative list of bourbon-based drinks including their twist on a B&B consisting of bacon infused bourbon and maple powder. Marrying three of life’s greatest pleasures in a single glass, how could I pass this up? Unfortunately the infused bourbon (and all/most of their signature cocktails) are based on 90 proof Buffalo Trace (they purchased barrel #07-D-16-L-3-70 exclusively for their own use) which is not gluten free. But our waiter suggested a tasty alternative that was gluten free. I infrequently order sweet drinks (or fruit based drinks) but my grog of Maker’s Mark, pear purée, and another feel-good ingredient I’ve forgotten served hot was enchanting. I felt briefly like I’d eaten my meal backwards, starting with desert, but the bourbon quickly anesthetized any sense of guilt.

My bride started with the Fried Green Tomato served with pimento cheese and chili “threads”, and I started with the Duck Rillette served mixed greens (normally served with crostini, but switched to be gluten free in my case) and pickled baby turnip wedges. My ramiken-sized pot of rillette was perfectly sized and as decadent as any duck rillette I’ve ever eaten in Paris (or anywhere for that matter!) Replacing crostini with mixed greens was an inspired solution, and a perfect balance for the richness of the rillette. We also shared a third small plate, the Brussel Sprouts, Oyster Mushrooms, and Pickled Chile. Crisped (gluten free) onions crowned this woodsy winter dish, highlighting the subtle sweetness of the caramelized sprouts. The earthiness of the sautéed mushrooms and the faintly bitter interiors of the sprouts added depth and complexity which mingled moodily with forkfuls of rillette and mixed greens.

We both agreed that our starters would have made a rick and fulfilling meal by themselves, but why abbreviate our decadence? Needless to say, we didn’t.

Mesquite Grilled Ribeye at Radish & Rye

Mesquite Grilled Ribeye at Radish & Rye

I switched over to the house Syrah to complement my rare / medium rare Mesquite Grilled Ribeye served with chimichurri and a miniature cellar of sea salt. I also ordered a side of Braised Greens, and before I even managed to sink my fork into the steak or the veggies, the coupling aromas enraptured me. Smoky, pungent, exotic. The greens were prepared with some sort of smoky pork. The steak was tender and well marbled. Our conversation lulled as I savored bite after bit of hardy winter decadence. The Syrah was a perfect match. I was exceedingly happy… with everything. Except my steak was enormous. Enormous!

Chanterelle Risotto at Radish & Rye

Chanterelle Risotto at Radish & Rye

My bride enjoyed the Chanterelle Risotto with Pecorino but sans caramelized fennel (per her request). She devoured it, though [obviously] in a delicate, lady-like way. That is, if the lady had not eaten in a looong time! Two thumbs up from her on everything including a creative twist on pumpkin pie, crustless, served in a small mason jar. Curious looking presentation, but it elicited all of the ooohhhs and aaahhhs that a decadent final course should elicit.

From start to finish our meal was a tour de force. Thanks, Dario and David. We plan to return to Radish & Rye soon. See you there!

Radish & Rye Reviews

If you’re suspicious of my personal experience, here are a few other perspectives to diversify the recommendation.

The food at Radish & Rye is distinctly Southern — not in a “deep-fried heart attack” way but in a “fresh from grandma’s farm” way… The emphasis is on farm-fresh produce (90 percent of which is from the Santa Fe Farmers Market) and a refreshingly eclectic selection of meats, many of which are smoked outside on the porch. The menu is definitely geared toward the old-fashioned carnivore, featuring grilled pork chops served with smoked pork belly, polenta and earthy morel mushrooms, back ribs with Carolina glaze, duck rillettes (a kind of paté), a seared lamb rib served with flageolet beans and roasted root vegetables… “We have a Southern twist and a little French influence, but really it’s just fresh, clean, basic food prepared in an innovative way,” [co-owner Camille] Bremer says. “We just wanted to create a restaurant that we wanted to eat at.” (Source: The Santa Fe New Mexican)

Radish & Rye takes chances that mostly pay off

Radish & Rye takes chances that mostly pay off (Source: ABQJournal Online)

[Radish & Rye offers] high-end cuisine stressing imaginative combinations of familiar ingredients… that includes a panoply of “small plates” and a bare handful of “larger plates” (qualifying as main courses in the old way of thinking). And plenty of bourbon – whiskey drinkers may love the selection, which runs to a full page in the drinks menu. (Source: ABQJournal Online)

Memorize this: “Corn chowder with green chile and smoked bone marrow”. This is the pinnacle of chef Alba’s small-plate greatness. Creamy, silky-smooth corn chowder with potatoes, green chile and a few floating jalapeño slices to surprise you, all topped with a Flintstones-sized bone stuffed with tender, greasy smoked beef marrow… (Source: Santa Fe Reporter)

Radish & Rye promises a spread of fresh farm finds and over 50 varieties of bourbon. Every Tuesday and Saturday, chef David Gaspar de Alba visits the Farmer’s Market to inspire his seasonal dishes with small plates like a warming corn chowder with bone marrow and green chili and steak tartare using alabria chili, lime oil and quail yoke. Bigger portions like seared lamb’s rib with salsa verde, flageolet and roasted roots pair nicely with vegetable sides including braised greens. Afterwards, slip into the bar for a nightcap, cocktails are courtesy master mixologist and sommelier Quinn Mark Stephenson. (Source: AFAR.com)

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