Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Hunt…

for blue corn pancakes goes on.

As I was sitting at the counter at Bobcat Bite talking with the former Albuquerque resident, I felt an elbow jabbing into my side. “Ask her about blue corn pancakes.”

So I did, and both she and her husband suggested The Range Café in Bernalillo. Sadly, the Range’s menu on the web didn’t mention blue corn pancakes, but seeing that there are two Albuquerque locations, we decided that breakfast before one of my appointments was in order.

To say that the décor is quirky would be an under-statement. Along the ceiling was an impres-sionistic mural with the colors suggesting the desert.

“Flying” blue cows decorated the ceiling fans. Boots and lariats hung on the walls. The booths were “tooled” vinyl to suggest leather.

The chairs were brightly colored. The cream-colored stove (first photo above) suggested that range had two meanings here—the Western range and a cooking range.

And were these 1950’s faux parchment lamp shades ever considered stylish?

We were in somewhat of a hurry, so I didn’t spend a lot of time studying the menu. A few of the more interesting items were: the Wagon Train—eggs, sausage, bacon, pintos, Range fries, and pancakes; The Range Roundup—a homemade biscuit topped with crumbled bacon, sausage, and eggs and smothered in chile with Range Fries con Queso; the I-25 Omelette (It'll get you to Denver!)—with diced ham, bell pepper, onion, and white cheddar and smothered in green chile; and the Kitchen Sink Omelette—ham, bacon, green onion, avocado, tomato, white cheddar, and cream cheese.

I selected the Huevos con Queso—two poached eggs atop an English muffin with Canadian bacon and smothered with Chile con Queso. With this came a side of pinto beans and a side of Range fries (basically home fries).

Let’s start with the sides. Please, no more beans. Especially at breakfast. And the Range fries were mediocre. They weren’t warm, they weren’t crisp, and they weren’t good.

On the other hand, the take-off on eggs Benedict was delicious. The eggs were poached to a medium firmness, as I had requested. Too often the English muffin is so hard and dry that even a knife won’t cut it. Not the case here. And the Chile con Queso was eye-opening. I’m never sure if cheese sauces like those that come on most nachos are concocted in a chemical laboratory or contain real cheese from real milk from real cows. I suspect that this cheese sauce was the latter and had just the right amount of medium hot green chile for that early in the morning.

Most of the reviews of The Range Café that I read mentioned their pancakes, and that was the direction that Chuck headed. He chose the short stack of two and added the optional topping of the restaurant’s house-made granola. And he ordered a side of the Range fries, which he enjoyed much more than I did.

The pancakes, though, were total perfection. With nary a vestige of baking powder taste, they were just the right size and, to be trite, as light as air. They were large enough to be substantial, but not so large that the center remained uncooked. And the granola on top was inspired. The nutty cereal flavor and the crunchy texture elevated these to pancake paradise. This is a technique we will try at home. After a few bites he proclaimed that these were some of the best pancakes ever.

If it weren’t for the blah potatoes, our breakfast at The Range Café would earn a higher rating than our 4.0 Addies.

But before we left, we saw the pecan rolls and purchased two-thirds of the those remaining in the display case. This was a very wise decision.

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