Ancient City Appetite: The Compound
Recommending places to eat, in and out of Santa Fe.
653 Canyon Road, Santa Fe
Lunch: 11:00 AM - 2:30 pm Dinner: 5:00 - 9:00 pm
Open seven days – No lunch on Sundays
From the moment you open the door to The Compound and walk into the front room, you are treated with respect. Being treated with respect is not what you might call standard operating procedure at most high-end restaurants, either in or out of Santa Fe. In fact, you are more likely to be shown respect by the staff at an inexpensive restaurant than by the staff at a restaurant where lunch or dinner cost as much as they do at The Compound. What’s exceptional about The Compound is the way the staff seems to know you, even when they don’t. My guess is that this show of respect comes from the top.
Mark Kiffin, The Compound’s chef and owner, has been in Santa Fe since 1989. During his twenty-five years here, Mark has earned the respect of everyone in the restaurant business. Mark earned that respect through his cooking, to be sure, but he also earned it through the way he values his employees. Great restaurant food is a marvel. It’s hard to find, but it’s out there, especially if you know where to look. Respect, on the other hand—the kind that flows both ways—is more difficult to find, even if you think you know where to look.
These are the dishes you do not want to miss.
Tuna Tartare (with walnut toast, preserved lemon, and black caviar); $17. If you’re feeling decadent, ignore the rest of the menu, order a glass of Moet & Chandon Brut ($25), and tell your waiter to keep bringing you orders of the Tuna Tartare until you raise your hand and say, “Enough.”
Sweet Breads and Foie Gras (with cepes, cayenne, and Spanish sherry); $22. I order the foie gras every time I go. It’s a window into the professional goodness of chef Kiffin’s cooking.
Chicken Schnitzel (with capers, lemon, and saut.ed spinach); $17. The Compound’s signature entree. Make sure to have a glass of Sauternes with it.
Organic Scottish Salmon (with chanterelle and squash blossom risotto, beurre blanc, and fried kale); $34.
Hudson Valley Duck Breast (with choy sum, green beans, fennel, garlic, fermented black bean duck sauce, and grilled plum chutney); $35.
Yes, lunch or dinner at The Compound costs money. The thing is, when I’m sitting in the back patio, enjoying my Chicken Schnitzel with a glass of Sauternes, the combination of the food and the service makes the cost seem incidental. That’s why Mark Kiffin and his staff have my respect.