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“Worth the 5 hour drive to Santa Fe”
Review of Restaurant Martin

Restaurant Martin
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Ranked #32 of 583 Restaurants in Santa Fe
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $25 - $36
Cuisines: American, Contemporary
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings, Romantic, Special occasions
Dining options: Late Night, Lunch, Breakfast, Dinner, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Neighborhood: Downtown
Cross street: Paseo de Peralta
Transit: The Railrunner from Albuquerque stops a few short blocks from our front door and Santa Fe's public bus system runs right past our restaurant.
Reviewed October 6, 2013

Rumors of a wonderful restaurant in Santa Fe have been trickling north to Colorado for sometime. Finally, with overseas visitors who had never seen the great wild west before, it was the perfect opportunity to make the 5 hour drive to Santa Fe.

There's just so much green chili one can handle, no matter how good it is, so on our last night in town I was waiting with gustatory anticipation for the meal at Restaurant Martin.

Chef Martin Rios opened his namesake restaurant with wife Jennifer about 4 years ago. Our server told us the building was once a house then a "hippy coffee shop" complete with bunk beds! Ok, whatever. But now it's a small, cozy restaurant with no cavernous rooms. The patio outback looked lovely and sometime in warmer weather we will try it.

Our reservation was for 8:00 and the tables had not turned when we arrived. No problem....at least not for me. We didn't want to sit outback in the patio area given it was quite a chilly night. Hard to enjoy a lovely meal with chattering teeth. So we sat in the bar and waited. And waited. But it wasn't like waiting as a captive in an aluminum tube without the captain explaining why the time to push back from the gate came and went 30 minutes ago.

Co-owner/restaurant manager Jennifer Rios and another delight server whose name I didn't get, came by frequently to offer her apologies (what could she really do?) and then offered us something to drink. Finally after 25 minutes, the dawdling diners got up and released the table just about the time I think they were going to be invited into the bar. These things happen, particularly when a restaurant provides a great dining experience. With someone as welcoming as Jennifer, it would be totally out of place to be cross because the table isn't ready.

Once seated, our server Josh - and the kitchen staff - proceeded to pamper us. Instead of a simple amuse, we were served a fabulous dish of chanterelles w/ duck confit, a seared scallop, candied Meyer lemon and butternut squash. I could have gotten up and gone home then totally satisfied and enamored with the creative dish Owner-Chef Martin Rios treated us to.

Not that I would do that.

The menu is concise as it should be since they use seasonal, local products (to the extent possible - scallops are not local to Santa Fe). Not that I really needed a starter after the delicious "amuse plus" we had, I couldn't resist trying the yellow fin tuna tartar with Spicy Ponzu, Black Sesame Paper, Cucumber Mignonette, Haas Avocado, Thai Infused Watermelon. I can still taste the diametrically opposed textures and melange of flavors. Fabulous dish, particularly for $15! Incredibly fresh tuna.

My husband had the Cervena Venison with Point Reyes Blue Cheese Masa, Pickled Blueberries
Black Mole, Micro Shoots, Hibiscus, Navel Oranges. Pickled blueberries? I tasted one....ok, two....and could have eaten a bowl of them. The venison was so tender and flavorful.

One friend followed my lead and had the tuna tartare and she loved it. The other had the chilled spring pea soup. We had seen some beautiful art in Santa Fe, but this was edible art! A beautiful alabaster, deep bowl arrived with Parmesan-Pepper Flan, Blue Lump Crab, Smoked Trout Caviar, Dill Oil, and Blue Corn Crumbs beautifully arranged in the bowl. Josh then poured the bright green soup carefully around the goodies in the bottom of the bowl so as not to disturb the arrangement. The crabmeat peeking through the top of the soup really was tip of the iceberg. Lovely dish for both the eyes and palate.

Now came the main attraction.

The special that night was pork cheeks with scallops (more scallops is fine with me), locally foraged porcini and black barley with a fabulous pork demi. Note - specials in lesser quality restaurants can often be something chef wants to move before he/she has to toss it. But specials in restaurants like this one are just that - special. I didn't get to chat with chef, but no doubt he got his hands on some lovely pork cheeks to go with his fresh porcini, et voila. A dish was created. It was delicious.

One of our friends followed me into pork cheek wonderland. The other chose the same dish as my husband - Ricotta Cavatelli with Maine Lobster, Shitake Mushrooms, Truffles, Basil Leaves, Heirloom Tomatoes, Preserved Lemon, Lobster Nage. Ok, we're talking serious taste sensation. This was not a pasta dish with a mouthful of Maine Lobster tossed in. Nope. Lots of tender lobster that had soaked up the nage. The housemade pasta was perfectly cooked and not mushy at all. If that stays on the menu, it's worth another 5 hour drive to Santa Fe!

With all that wonderful food - including a delicious bottle of Vietti Barbera d'Asti Tre Vigne - there was no room for dessert, albeit I would love to try the toasted coconut sorbet.

My only comment I can make is the wine list. I felt the wines are a bit pricey without enough lower priced wines. There are some dynamite wines at lower price points they could include. One big suggestion would be to add an Arneis to the white wine list - either Deltetto (preferably their San Michele) or Matteo Correggia. Both of these Roero producers from Piemonte produce a beautiful version of this special wine that would be a perfect pair to Chef's seafood dishes, particularly the tuna tartare and the cavatelli/lobster dish.

Can't wait to go back!

Note - unfortunately, the light is very soft in the restaurant and I didn't have my SLR with me. I don't like to use flash in a restaurant, so my pix don't do justice to the few items I was able to shoot. I pondered whether to post the photo of the pork cheeks because the demi and black barley didn't photograph well, but it was just too good to pass up!

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3  Thank VillaArneis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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399 - 403 of 677 reviews

Reviewed September 30, 2013

My friends and I thoroughly enjoyed our meal. Delicious! Two of us had the beef tenderloin and one of us enjoyed the vegetarian sampler! One of the best salads I've ever had.

We sat out on the patio which was lovely and since it was after 8 p.m. we dined under 2 patio heaters - very nice ambience!

We'd definitely go back.

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4  Thank Mango01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 27, 2013

Our evening at Restaurant Martin was the highlight of our dining experiences in Santa Fe. The dining room featured a simple, elegant decor and a quiet experience. Our server, Graciella, was delightfully cordial and professional . Her knowledge of the menu options and wine pairings served to enhance our enjoyment of our dining experience. The food was delicious and the presentation stunning. We found the beef tenderloin and the lamb chops to be outstanding. Our delightful evening was capped off with a shared panna cotta.

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1  Thank DaveandJudy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 22, 2013

You can't eat at Geronimo every night, so Restaurant Martin becomes a good option for a step down, but still a foodie's delight. Check it out on Yelp to draw your own conclusions. We had an excellent meal here with good service and good choice for wine. It' didn't overwhelm...For me it was an excellent meal in an upscale restaurant. There are some really detailed reviews on Yelp and I won't try to replicate them here. But, it's no Geronimo if you only have one night in Santa Fe. We did Martin on a Sunday and Geronimo the following Tuesday....a day between such rich dishes is recommended for both the gastric system and the pocketbook.

1  Thank Gary307
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 22, 2013

We love the patio at restaurant martin. the food is excellent and reasonably priced and we will go back. But one long time waiter -- who seems to handle the entire patio on his own during sunday brunch -- is officious, bordering on rude. OK, that's kind of French, and who cares so long as the service is there. But its not. He has too many tables and can't get to them all. Lots of female bus people (I am sure making much less) and one waiter -- too busy and with attitude.

Yes we will brave it again for the wonderful food and outdoor space, but dear owners, consider putting a waitress uniform on one of those young women and giving your waiter a bit of motivation to behave.

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2  Thank Noodle451
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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