Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanks to Guy and Gil…

we found Sophia’s Place.

Guy, of course, is Guy Fieri of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" fame. Gil is Gil Garduno who writes the "Gil’s Thrilling (and Filling) Blog" which centers on Albuquerque and New Mexico restaurants. If every city had a Gil, our search for local restaurants would be so much easier.

If you were to drive past Sophia’s Place, you would never guess it was a restaurant.

To be kind, its exterior is nondescript, and the lack of any snappy information on the exterior sign leads one to think that this is a place that has closed. But inside the doors lies a gem of a small (maybe twenty seats inside and another twenty on the patio behind the stucco wall) café with a chef/owner who knows his food.

We walked in at 10:00 a.m. looking for breakfast and were immediately greeting by Josie who was staffing the order counter that morning. With her irrepressible personality, she served as the perfect hostess. Josie soon began telling us that the restaurant had been featured on Guy Fieri’s program and proudly pointed to the framed and autographed photo of Guy which had been signed with the message “Small place, big flavor.”

Now San Pasqual is considered to be the patron saint of cooks, but to me it should be Guy Fieri. [Doesn’t this diner (left) look like he is meditating?] In addition to the Guy Fieri poster, the room is decorated with colorful – if not exactly soothing – unframed artwork.

The menu is short – breakfast and lunch items only – but combines deli, New Mexican, and standard diner foods. Our breakfast choices included eggs benedict, french toast, an omelet, a breakfast burrito, breakfast tacos, and huevos rancheros. I was intrigued by the breakfast tacos, but with rice and beans it sounded like too much food for someone whose appetite hasn’t entirely returned. So I chose the french toast with a side of bacon instead.

This may have been some of the best restaurant french toast ever. Made from a dense and chewy bread brought in daily from the Sage Bakehouse in Santa Fe (and also used for all of the sandwiches), it didn’t disintegrate from either the egg dip or the syrup. And it was topped with a generous amount of huge blackberries and strawberries. Alas, the latter were not fresh and seemed to have been frozen and thawed.

The bacon was thick-sliced and cooked to just the right level of crispness. No longer flabby, but not burned. I came to regret the half slice I shared with Chuck.

His selection was the breakfast burrito with ground beef, eggs, green peppers, and potatoes and smothered in green chile. When it arrived, it was presented in a basket and wrapped in foil. Where was the "smothered in green chile?" Josie came to the rescue and the burrito quickly went back to the kitchen for representation with chile and a crème fraiche garnish.

After cutting into the burrito, Chuck discovered that instead of ground beef he had been given the sliced sirloin steak filling. This should have been a problem. It wasn’t. The thinly sliced steak was amazingly tender and flavorful, and even Mr. Ground Beef (aka Chuck) had to admit that this was delicious. The green chile was perfect. In fact it was one of the best green chiles we have tasted. With enough heat to be interesting, it wasn’t too combustible – especially at 10:00 in the morning.

Gil had raved about Sophia’s pancakes – especially the blue corn. Alas, these are available only on Saturday and Sunday. So as we left, we assured Josie that we would return on the weekend. Tomorrow, the results of that visit and our Addie rating.

No comments: