At the gorgeous Encantado (an Auberge resort) outside of Santa Fe in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is the acclaimed Terra. The drive in is beautiful as you leave behind the city for unspoiled nature.
It’s modern yet true to the region. As The Monster takes a seat by the fire he orders The Hot Fairy to get the insides warmed up. It’s Bellagio hot chocolate, Bailey’s and Kubler absinthe. Yum.
Chef Charles Dale, previously of Aspen and acclaimed by Food + Wine in 1995 as America’s top new chef and twice James Beard nominated as best chef, Southwest has taken well to the region’s gustatorial tastebuds while retaining a worldy flair.
The menu is divided into three themes, Sense of Balance, Place and Comfort. With each there are salads, appetizers and entrees from which to choose. To be honest, The Monster has absolutely no idea what this means but it sounds good.
The call is the soup of the day, nine vegetable with crispy leak and a small crabcake (Balance). The soup is saved by the crabcake and leeks as the broth itself proves plain. This dish needs the zestiness of some Southwestern flavor.
Endive and crispy kale salad with pomegranates, pumpkin seeds, verjus vinaigrette (Balance) is up next. Superb flavor profile though it does seem more of a fall than winter starter. Not terribly hearty and the fruitiness seems out of its element.
Hot smoked salmon with cauliflower-almond mousse, roasted kale, grain mustard vinaigrette (Balance) is the first entree. It’s divine. Everything about this dish works wonderfully.
Guajillo prawns with white chocolate mole, red rice, mango salsa (Place) is the next course up. Oh boy, these shrimp. Oh boy. Wish there were more than three of them because they are bonzo, crazy awesome. Apparently a sense of Place makes one type things liek bonzo, crazy awesome. So there you have it.
And cheese tots filled with Gruyere must be ordered. They are diabolically insane as one would imagine.
When Chef Dale comes out to say hello he could not be more charming. Always good to know the person behind the great food is a great person as well.
Why go? You, like The Monster, need no sense of balance.
Monster rating: 4/5 Monsters
State Road 592
Santa Fe, NM 87506