We have been going to the Real Food Nation Café for years. The casual atmosphere and the creative food have always hit the spot for lunch or Sunday brunch. I have even been on a photo shoot in a workshop with Francesca Yorke, making images of the wonderful and beautiful herbs and vegetables they grow in their extensive on-site garden. But even though we have talked about it many times, we have never made it to their culinary other-half, the Supper Club. Last night we were able to fill that gap in our Santa Fe experience, and it was well worth the effort.
Travel to the restaurant is a scenic 2o-minute drive north on I-25 or on the crowded Old Pecos Trail. The café is in a converted gas station, and you might miss seeing the compact square building across the parking lot. That is the Supper Club with its own parking area and a welcoming front door. Inside you will find a small, well-appointed dining room and a friendly staff. It is small – only 22 seats including several at the bar overlooking the open kitchen – so reservations are highly recommended. The problem with that is that the Supper Club does not have its own number in the phone book, so when you call the café they have to transfer your call, sometimes to the consternation of the person answering the phone. During our visit we were granted our own key, so to speak. The direct line is 505-466-2440 and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. They’re not on Open Table, either, so a direct call for reservations is needed. The other little idiosyncrasy you need to be aware of is that they are open only Wednesday through Saturday from 5:30 pm to 9 pm. All of that says plan ahead, but if you do, you won’t be disappointed
The dining room was pleasant, mostly two-tops with a couple of four-tops, comfortable leather chairs, and sunny windows with Roman shades if the sun gets in your eyes during Daylight Saving Time. The music would not be my choice – some Frank Sinatra and light jazz/pops – but it was not intrusive and certainly not so loud as to drown out your dinner companion’s conversation. The service was friendly and attentive. The wine list was small but well-chosen and well-priced with full-bottle, half-bottle, and by-the-glass selections. There was a good selection of beers, coffee and tea, soft drinks, and bottled waters as well.
All of that put us at ease in anticipation of a good meal. The bread got a mixed vote from me. The little ciabatta rolls were crisp on the outside with a flaky crumb and extremely tasty. The sliced French bread was dense and ok, not great. But we didn’t come for the bread, anyway.
Right now the restaurant has a prix fixe menu, three courses for $35. The menu changes frequently, so call ahead or check the web site. Last night there were two choices of appetizer, three choices of entrée, and two choices of dessert. Even at that, chosing was difficult because everything sounded delicious.
Susan chose the carrot parsnip soup. The golden bowl came to the table laced with a pool of green-hued extra virgin olive oil.
I chose the frisée salad which came with guanciale – little lardons of pork jowl lightly crisped
We both chose veal sweetbreads which, when well-prepared, is one of our favorite dishes and not commonly available. We were not disappointed. The sweetbreads were perfectly cooked and seasoned. They were complemented by tender Swiss chard and a “hash” of turnips, leeks, and carrots. The sweetbreads were sauced with a fragrant, flavorful mushroom demi-glace.
Both desserts were beautifully presented, and a fitting end to the evening. The hazelnut financier came with three different kinds of chocolate. The profiteroles were classically done, and fortunately not too big as I could have eaten more than my diet allows.