Bistro brings a taste of France to the high desert
Copyright Â© 2021 Albuquerque Journal
Having lived in Mexico for many years, a three hour lunch was the way of life, especially in Mexico City where we frequently ate spectacular and extended midday meals. But that’s not the way we eat lunch or dinner in the United States. Instead, it’s all about quick and easy meals, and I desperately miss those luxurious dining experiences where you live in the moment like nothing else matters.
If you, too, fancy a leisurely lunch or dinner, there’s a new place in town that promises that and more. Le Pommier Bistro is one of three new French restaurants and the first to open. (Mille takes over the location of the Bouche Bistro on West Alameda and there is a banner hanging in front of the Lucky Goat on Cerrillos proclaiming the arrival of La Tour.) I visited Le Pommier Bistro on their sixth day of lunch service. and, while I was there if there were a few minor issues to anticipate when opening a new restaurant, the hostess and co-owner, Suzanne Eichner, proved she has the qualities of hospitality for this new business.
She and her future husband, Alain Jorand, a seasoned chef and restaurateur, opened Le Pommier so that customers could taste France in the most literal sense of the word. Located at La Tienda in Eldorado, just outside of Santa Fe, this mall offers a growing number of culinary destinations, including a Santa Fe Brewing Co. store, gourmet cheese shop, cafe, and a weekly farmers market.
When we arrived on a Saturday afternoon the patio was full and there were only a few tables left inside. The interior is spacious, with a bar in the center and plenty of high chairs for single diners looking for a meal or to mingle.
The welcoming waiting area features some of France’s most coveted products, all available for purchase. Straw bags hang on the wall, kitchen towels fill the shelves, along with jellies, soaps, kitchen utensils, homemade granola, and even prepackaged dog macaroons.
Upon entering, the hostess greeted us with a friendly “hello”. Even if you don’t speak French, you will be touched by the genuine warmth and hospitality of the staff at Le Pommier. We landed at one of the only tables left in the dining room, a comfy corner table.
The lunch menu is everything you would expect from a classic French restaurant, with options ranging from pancakes, quiche and salad nicoise to croque madame et monsieur, or steak tartare and steak fries. On a small but powerful menu, you can opt for a deep bowl of hot French onion and cheese soup, a savory charcuterie dish, or something simple like butter ham, country ham and butter on a toasted baguette.
Wanting to try a bit of everything, we started with a traditional buckwheat pancake, naturally gluten-free. Filled with copious amounts of ham and cheese, and served with a side of mesclun, the pancake lacked flavor. Chef Alain recognized that Provolone was not the right cheese and that he would fix it.
In search of a light lunch, I opted for the NiÃ§oise salad, which consists of fresh tuna poached in olive oil, perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs cut into four, slices of Persian cucumber, halves of cherry tomatoes, sliced â€‹â€‹fingerling potatoes, blanched green beans and brackish kalamata. olives garnished with three marinated anchovies. The well-seasoned vinaigrette put it all together for a tasty and healthy French lunch.
My table mates both ordered fried steaks, a well-seasoned flank steak topped with roasted shallots and a giant dollop of butter made from parsley, chives and roasted garlic which was melting from the heat of the hot steak when it arrived at the table. Accompanied by a mound of crispy hand-cut fries, the half-cooked steak was simply cooked, tasty and juicy.
The portions are fair, leaving plenty of room for dessert, and dessert is the right way to end a French meal. The menu will challenge you with many sweet options including pancakes, pastries, ice cream (ice cream) or sorbet. We ordered the creamy crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e which looks and tastes like liquid gold and the Tatin Le Pommier tart. The crisp, buttery crust of the pie is topped with succulent roasted apples, a generous layer of rich, golden caramel sauce and a scoop of homemade ice cream (the day of our visit, a hazelnut nut).
The restaurant’s name, Le Pommier, means apple tree in French, so it’s no surprise that their signature dessert is Tatin apple pie. When I asked Suzanne why they named the restaurant so, she spoke with lyrical lyrics about the apple’s stupendous history – its role in France, its connection to prosperity and growth, Adam and Eve. , and that she and Alain met at the Santa Fe. Farmers Market, so food is a big part of their lives. To reinforce the restaurant’s name, the two back walls of the dining rooms are adorned with wallpaper of green apple trees.
Dinner service includes a more extensive menu of centuries-old French fare, including lamb chops, chicken stew, a variety of succulent seafood dishes, and a few seasonal and chef-led options for vegetarians. They kicked off the Sunday Family Lunch for the first time last week with a fixed price $ 35 four-course menu and alcohol-free sunrise mimosa to start the day. Adding breakfast to the mix is â€‹â€‹on the horizon, as is a New Mexico beer, wine, and liquor license.
Based on the booming business of their sixth day, I suspect the secret is already known about Le Pommier. If you fancy a slow, memorable dining experience where they won’t rush you, make a reservation and lock in three hours. This is the minimum time you will need to explore the menu, relax and experience a delicious and welcome taste of France in the high desert.
Learn more about the Santa Fe food and hospitality scene on Heather Hunter’s blog, â€œThe Cowgirl Gourmet in Santa Fe,â€ at thecowgirlgourmetinsantafe.com.