Arroyo Vino: Celebrating the Garden and the Grape

Santafe.com - October 5, 2016

You don't have to be an oenophile to enjoy dining here...

Arroyo Vino may be famous for its wine offerings, but you don't have to be an oenophile to enjoy dining here. The restaurant's modern American cuisine is simply sublime and has caught the attention of critics and foodies alike with such extraordinary dishes as Dry-Aged Peking Duck Duo, paired with charred peaches, foraged mushrooms, lavender toasted farro, fennel puree and lovage gastrique. Duck and lavender...not your everyday pairing and therein lies the appeal of this intimate, romantic spot located in the rolling hills of Las Campanas, about a 15-minute drive from Santa Fe.

Executive Chef Colin Shane has helmed the kitchen since 2014, after the departure of Arroyo Vino's first chef Mark Connell, whose resume includes a stint at the fabled French Laundry. Shane, who had a successful music career before switching gears, was the first chef from New Mexico selected to compete at the prestigious Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Best Young Chef Competition, held last year in San Diego at the Art Institute of California. He previously worked at the famed two-star Michelin restaurant in San Francisco, Quince, and also at Santa Fe's Restaurant Martin.

Arroyo Vino is an extension of an adjoining wine shop offering some 900 carefully curated wines from around the world with a focus on small, family-owned producers. The wine shop, which opened first, celebrates its fifth anniversary in December. The restaurant launched 14 months later as a wine bar offering small plates but then followed a natural evolution into a fine dining restaurant in an area where there had been none. It quickly became a dining sensation, as Travel + Leisure named Arroyo Vino as one of the best new restaurants in Santa Fe in 2014. It's the only place in the Southwest to have landed on OpenTables Diners' Choice Award for the Top 100 Wine List in the U.S.

Shane's focus on food is seasonal and local, and the restaurant has its own two-acre farm, with honeybee hives and greenhouses, so ingredients including salad greens, heirloom tomatoes, squash, squash blossoms and more can be grown year-round. Even sunflowers are put to use, as sweet-tasting seeds plucked out while the flowers are young are combined with rice to make risotto, which the restaurant calls “sunflower porridge.”

Shane's inspired seasonal menus incorporate the bounty of the restaurant's farm in creative and original small plates like Late Summer Heirloom Tomato Tart with nasturtium pesto, goat cheese and aged balsamic; Mission Figs & Jamon de Bayonne with burrata, spicy garden greens, seeded rye crostini and preserved lemon; and Fried Brussels Sprouts with maple aioli, red onion and mint chiffonade.

The same eclectic sensibility is evident in such starters as Roasted Sunchoke Soup with black trumpet mushrooms, escargot mousseline, fall apples, hazelnut, charred lemon and celery leaf and Grilled & Poached Wild Matsutake Mushrooms with purple shiso, spruce shoot oil and that garden sunflower porridge described above. The Endive & Fall Apple Salad features charcoal roasted beets, garden curly endive, Bay Blue & hazelnut torchon and housemade cider vinaigrette.

But don't be fooled into thinking Arroyo Vino excels only at plates designed for sharing. The entrees are equally delicious, from the Pan-Roasted Angus Beef Tenderloin with heirloom tomato & brioche panzanella, smoked bacon, bone marrow flan, pommes purée and chimichurri to the Pan-Seared Day Boat Scallops with fava beans, chanterelles, summer vegetable minestrone and lemongrass and sweet corn broth. Even the vegetarian option is mouth-watering—Roasted Stuffed Garden Squash, featuring spaghetti squash, stuffed with pan -seared Brussels sprouts, Greek yogurt, Moroccan granola and butternut sabayon.

Shane doesn't just put his skills to use in the kitchen at Arroyo Vino. At this year's Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, he led a cooking demo at the Santa Fe School of Cooking on extending your garden season with easy fermentation and pickling techniques. He also collaborated with Seminole and Absentee Shawnee artist Benjamin Harjo, Jr. for an At the Artists' Table event during this year's Indian Market, part of an ongoing series that benefits education and the arts in Santa Fe. And Arroyo Vino has its own busy schedule of specials events, including Winemaker Dinners that have so far featured such acclaimed vintners as Brain Talley of Talley Vineyards in California's Central Coast; Elisa Scavino from Paolo Scavino in Italy's Barolo region; and David Ramey of Ramey Wine Cellars in Sonoma.

On Saturday, October 15, from 1 to 3 pm, Arroyo Vino hosts a Fall Sparkling Tasting, featuring its best selections of reds, whites and bubbles to help ease the transition to fall. And do't forget that Friday, October 21 is Official Champagne Day, so be sure to stop by for some bubbles.