Loyal Hound, Santa Fe: the recent midscale deliciousness trend continues
When I moved to Santa Fe five years ago, I have to admit I was pretty disappointed by the midscale chow scene. There were some terrific places at the high end (La Boca, Trattoria Nostrani RIP) and some very good places at the lower end (Pupuseria Salvadoreno, Tecolote Cafe RIP), but there were surprisingly few places where you could go out, have a couple of courses and a drink or two, get some decent change back from President Grant, and actually feel like you'd had something worth leaving your house for.
Flash forward to today and things are getting so much better. Dr. Field Goods, Izanami, the Ranch House, the bar at Joseph's Table, Duel Brewery, and Jambo Cafe all have their place, plus 2nd Street is as good as ever and Plaza Cafe has returned to form.
So although Loyal Hound isn't as groundbreaking as it would have been two years ago, let alone five years ago, for me it's nonetheless a sight for still-sore eyes. The food is delicious and inventive without being weird, the drinks are unusual and well considered, and the prices are remarkably reasonable.
On the northeast corner of St. Michaels and Pacheco, the former Hidden Chicken (RIP) space is practically unrecognizable, with dark woods and trendy light fixtures. A bit of bar seating and a TV or two up front with the semi-open kitchen, and a dining room in the back. Although every dining room table was full when we visited, the volume was just a pleasantly convivial murmur without being at all overbearing.
The chow was super tasty if rather heavy, generally hewing to the "inventive riffs on retro comfort food" playbook. Both our deviled eggs with "frisky jalapenos" and fried Castelvetrano olives and Marcona almonds were excellent snacks. My BLT was about perfect, on properly not-too-fancy homemade bread with a legitimately good tomato (since living in New England I'm a tomato snob), great crispy bacon, and lettuce that wasn't an afterthought. DC's mixed green salad was pushed over the top with beet chips and absolutely delicious bison short rib meat. And the tres leches cake for dessert, while perhaps a notch less good than the savory stuff, was nonetheless worth having, beautifully executed and canonical, and thankfully not obscenely large.
Drink menu is at least as thoughtfully selected as the chow. Although they have no hard liquor license they have a few cordial cocktails, one with cassis, soda water, and basil, the other white port, lime, and soda. Very nice, unusual selection of beers, fewer in number than Dr. Field Goods but on par in terms of quality. And a surprisingly interesting set of wines by the glass (more by the bottle) including several casks on tap, which I always enjoy.
Staff was friendly and attentive, and they genuinely seemed to care about making the experience as good as possible.
Dinner for two with a few drinks, tax, and tip was about 60 bucks. Loved this place, I could easily see myself becoming a regular.