First off, before we even get into the food, people who read WBTW often know that I love great design and notice it when it’s well done. The Terra Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in Santa Fe New Mexico is a classy standout, with elegant lighting, a cosy but modern fireplace in the center and a massive horse painting facing every table. Creative, edgy, modern and chic!!
Our meal was long, thanks to our fabulous and knowledgeable waiter and the sous chef Ruben Tanuz, who came out a few times throughout our meal to see how we were enjoying it and to answer questions. Of course, I always have questions.
New Mexican-born Tanuz is not only a great chef, but has a warm and kind heart and personality and also has a unique personal story! A local, he delivered wood to the property when he was 12 years old at a time when it was a dude ranch. After graduating from the Santa Fe Community College, he traveled and cooked….and cooked, from North Carolina and Florida to Taos.
He prefers simple and basic recipes, but fresh and creative with just the right spices to bring it all together. We learned about herbs, spices and tweaks to recipes as well renowned dishes he has used over the years to keep flavors a little more interesting. He refers to his basic style of cooking as Naked Cuisine aka Earth Cuisine, where the ingredients are natural from the Earth, the way it should be. (Processed food manufacturers, are you listening?)
They go to the local’s farmers market every Saturday and Tuesday to bring in the freshest ingredients they can depending on the season. He asserts that locals are connected to the Earth and always have been because it used to be so hard to fly food in…
We also learned about the varieties of Green and Red chilies, the biggest export of the state and Pecans from southern New Mexico, also a popular export. Varieties of red chilies that will make your mouth (and more) water include the Barker which is the hottest, according to Tanuz, followed by the Sandia and the Big Jim, which is a little milder and meatier than the others. I didn’t dare try any of them.
I was personally thrilled to see both Silverado and Opus on the wine menu and despite the fact that we went with a chicken and lighter pork dish, we dove into the 2011 Iconoclast Stags Leap Cabernet from California rather than a Pinot which would have gone better with both. It was one of those nights…
The food was exquisite.
Even if you’re not a salad lover, I’d recommend starting with one as a compliment to another appetizer. Standouts include their roasted pear salad frisee with arugula, endive, cranberries, pomegranates with a bleu cheese hazelnut vinaigrette and their beet and goat cheese salad with figs, candied pecans served with a balsamic reduction. They had an interesting Agave Vinaigrette on the salad menu which is worth noting – they make it with apple cider, salt, pepper, lime, egg, parsley and grape seed oil.
They use a briquette grill and the result are tastes that will linger on your mind for weeks after you leave the restaurant.
We then went with the Black Truffle Chicken with sweet potato croquets, wilted greens and a chicken jus and the Grilled Venison Loin, served with poached pears, blackberries, crispy kale and a chocolate sauce. Yum — both were to die for!
And, of course, you wouldn’t be dining at a Four Seasons unless you weren’t into a little decadence after all. How about this double chocolate creation for dessert? It was divine. It is made with a Cayenne Marshmallow, Bittersweet Chocolate Sorbet and a Grand Marnier Sauce. They also offered a classic Apple Pie with cinnamon custard, almond ice cream, caramel sauce and almond brittle and warm cinnamon churros with caramel sauce, and Madrona ice cream. Yum!
Other light options on the menu included a scrumptious Parsnip Bisque, which is house made with apple butter and candied pecan crumbles, their Poblano Chile Crab Cake, with tempura avocado, red Chile oil and Margarita Aioli, Pan Seared Scallops, Calamari, Roasted Lamb Chops, with kale, garlic potato puree and a mint lamb jus and the outa this world Green Chile Braised Short Rib Pumpkin Pasta with mushrooms, squash and whiskey cream.
I wished I had room for the Pan Seared Duck Breast with celery root, wilted greens in a Port wine cherry reduction. For fish, they offered a Chilean Sea Bass, with parsnip puree, sautéed spinach and a Saffron vanilla sauce and a Pan Roasted Salmon with potato pave, burnt orange marmalade and autumn vegetables.
They had a delicious 20 Year Grahams Tawny Port on the menu and a 10 Year Ramos ‘Pinto’, which is a great way to finish off your evening. A long list of fuel injected coffees was also available, everything from pepper mint schnapps and hot chocolate to hot buttered rum and Amarula Cream Liqueur with Highland Harvest Scotch! Ouch!
Two thumbs up! The restaurant is the stand-out on the property — they also have a lovely spa on the grounds in a very serene setting surrounded by glorious views. Worth doing is their couples massage, which is incredibly relaxing and can be followed by an outside hot tub soak.
Four Seasons Rancho Encantado / Terra Restaurant
198 State Road 592
Santa Fe, NM 87506
Disclosure: we were hosted by the property but not paid to write the article or what to say. This was part of a fun #FSGiftCard promotion they were doing for guests. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.