We recently enjoyed a summer road trip all the way to Michigan from Arizona. Yes, that’s a looooong trip which is why many people ask why we don’t fly. Well, to be honest, apart from kind of enjoying time in the car (I get a lot of reading done: here’s a great book), there’s an important factor with which I am obsessed: Food. By traveling in the car (our mini van, specifically), I can pack things from my kitchen so that I can cook on the road for my family (induction hot plate, anyone?). As I like to say, “have induction hot plate, will travel.” Eating healthy and delicious food is my main passion so I do whatever it takes to make that happen.
We ventured to Michigan because that is where I grew up, and my brother, his wife, and their kids are there, plus my dad, step-dad, and dear sister-in-law-ish. At the time of our journey, our daughter had just turned four years old, and that meant shorter stretches of driving. Therefore, our days in the car maxed out at around 7 hours, if we could help it. That means lots of nights in hotels. How did I make high-quality, Real Food on the trip in hotels? It was fairly simple… with smart planning. I’ll detail it all in a blog post soon because I have a lot to share on the topic. I’ve made the trip twice now, a bit different each trip, and I like to think I have it figured out.
We didn’t eat every single meal as homemade though. Some of our meals, although just a couple, were enjoyed in restaurants. Enter: Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, NM.
On the trip back from Michigan we decided to spend a couple of days in Santa Fe as a little break from the non-stop driving and to enjoy the local atmosphere of Santa Fe. So lovely.
One of the best meals of my life. And to think I almost opted for a different restaurant because of the Yelp Review stars I saw. Glad my husband urged us to go to Coyote Cafe. Greg had been there about 20 years ago (the place has been around about 27 years), and was itching to try it again.
The presentation of the meals was gorgeous and thoughtful. The decor of the restaurant was open and pleasing, artful, and chic although a bit dated. It is showing the years of wear and is overdue for a refresh.
The service was top of the line. Our server was Lynsey and she catered to our every need. I’d also like to mention that the support staff were equally great. So much of a restaurant experience goes beyond the food.
I follow a gluten free diet most of the time but while on vacation, like our New York trip, I indulge when appropriate. As such, we had the offered bread (a variety of white bread and corn bread), which was served with the options: whipped butter, olive oil, and a delightful, tiny pile of sea salt. The extra touch of sea salt made it all the more memorable.
I had the Cast Iron Seared Grass-Fed Filet Mignon “Au Poivre” which was accompanied by duck fat roasted potatoes, brussels sprouts, and butter (I requested plain butter as opposed to the foie gras butter it came with). I was drawn to this dish because of my recent culinary school endeavor, at Classic Cooking Academy, where I learned how to make steak au poivre. I also couldn’t resist “duck fat” roasted anything because you don’t often get to enjoy duck fat. It was simply the best steak I’ve had. Tender, perfectly cooked, juicy, and GRASS-FED. I am a big proponent of eating grass fed and pasture raised meats. Coyote Cafe gets extra credit, and my adoration, for having this. The flavors coaxed and woven into my meal were fabulous. I would get that again and again.
My handsome husband, Greg, had the “Chef’s” Famous Tellicherry Pepper Elk Tenderloin. Again… it was pasture raised and grass-fed (bonus points and appreciation). It’s a lean cut of meat yet it was tender and scrumptious. The elk was served with roasted garlic smashed potatoes, applewood smoked bacon, and brandied mushroom sauce. Delectable. Greg said he would get this again and again. One of the neat things with this dish is the use of “tellicherry” pepper… the best kind of pepper to use – see why here.
My 4-year old daughter had the Berkshire Pork Osso Bucco, with Israeli Couscous, Apple Salad, and Marsala Tomato Sauce. I’m not sure if Coyote Cafe’s Berkshire Pork was pasture-raised or not. I’m hopeful it was based on their other pasture-raised meats. This dish was extremely tender (it cooks for 8 hours) with a beautiful presentation (Kamea was especially keen on how it was stacked). We all enjoyed the pairing of couscous and apple (it was the first time Kamea had couscous because it’s not normally in our diet). I’d recommend this as a great kid’s dish. We always order from the adult menu at restaurants for our daughter to provide more nutrition and broaden her palate. For example, Kamea enjoys sardines, liver, wild-caught salmon roe, and oysters (to name a few), so the all-too-bland-and-common chicken fingers, french fries, spaghetti, mac-n-cheese, and pizza (often on a kiddie menu) just won’t cut it. As I sit here writing this post, she’s eating an organic red leaf salad topped with sardines, green onions, ghee roasted beets-and-brussels sprouts, raw grass fed cheese, and homemade honey mustard garlic dressing.
It bears repeating that I was ecstatic about the offerering of grass-fed elk and steak. Thank you, Coyote Cafe, for doing that.
Now for the dessert. I wasn’t even hungry for it but I’m always intrigued by quality desserts so I usually indulge. I’m so glad I did at Coyote Cafe because, well, the dessert was ridiculous… in an amazing way. I’m a chocolate girl or anything-sweet-girl, and when I saw the option of Chilled Organic Rhubarb Soup I was intrigued enough to forgo getting my usual type of dessert. It included rose-water semifreddo, candied pistachios, and strawberries. Wow…. I was blown away. The flavors and ingredients created a party of tastes and textures that I’ll forever remember. It had so much to offer in every bite. I also had the Truffles “To-Go” because, well, I had to try their chocolate. They were enjoyed later in the evening.
Next time we go to Santa Fe we plan to visit the rooftop cantina, which has a different menu and fun festive atmosphere, including this awesome-ness as you walk in (pictured below). And, of course, I’ll enjoy dinner in the main dining room.