Down a long driveway off of artist haven Canyon Road sits The Compound, James Beard award winner as the best restaurant in the entire Southwestern region. Since this is dinner number two of three this evening The Monster has to be a bit circumspect with his ordering.
The dining rooms are done in a contemporary Southwestern motif by acclaimed architect Alexander Girard, meaning none of the garish flair seen in many of the other restaurants this way.
Rock shrimp with puree of celery root, holy trinity, grain mustard and celery leaves; duck confit with escarole, white bean and garlic stew, pickled golden raisin and parsley bread crumbs and buttermilk onion rings are the call.
The rock shrimp are a perfect cold weather comfort food, creamy puree, the snap of the perfectly cooked shrimp in a sauce made for extra orders of bread.
But is it possible the duck is in fact better? Crispy skin, a touch sweet from the raisins, supple meat underneath. With the ragout of beans and vegetable beneath it, it is a symphony of flavor.
The onion rings themselves are fine, a towering mound of crispy battered onion. That they come with Heinz ketchup is a complete letdown for a restaurant of this ilk. Still, they are devoured.
Friendly service and the relaxed, cozy yet elegant environment make The Compound a place worthy of its James Beard designation.
Why go? Heinz is great ketchup, damn it!
Monster Rating: 4½/5 Monsters
653 Canyon Road
Santa Fe, NM 87501