Showcasing foods at the peak of their season...
Ask any foodie in Santa Fe to name a favorite restaurant dish and it's a sure bet that the Squash Blossom Beignets with Local Goat Cheese Fondue & Tomato Coulis at 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar is a frequent answer.
Or, perhaps, it's 315's Local Pork Schnitzel with Chanterelle Gravy; Steak Frites with Bernaise; or Charcuterie with Pickles & Mustard, all house-made and served with duck rillettes, country pate, cacciatore salume, bresaola & mortadella. Seafood lovers might mention the sweet soft shell crabs, however they're prepared that day. As for me, I can still recall 315's seared foie gras with cherry compote on grilled bruschetta that I savored more than once a decade or so ago.
For more than 20 years, 315's chef/owner Louis Moskow has been making memorable meals that showcase ingredients at the peak of their season along with wild-caught, sustainable seafood and local, organic meats—all prepared in an innovative fashion, even though they're influenced by classical techniques.
“I use classical cooking methods with classic ingredients in a style that's basically a European derivative, as Italy and France are both credited with classical cuisine,” Moskow says. “Where it becomes personal is with the ingredients, the technique and the assembly. It's also an expression of how I want to see a specific ingredient prepared at a specific time time of year. It's a moment, essentially. The ingredient can stay the same, but the moment will change. When there's an abundance of squash blossoms, pairing those with local goat cheese led to our Squash Blossom Beignets. It's a locally inspired dish made from an ingredient that's locally available.”
Moskow is well-versed in classical cooking, having studied at the Culinary Institute of America then honing his skills at New Orleans' legendary Commander's Palace. He also spent time in Europe learning about the foods of Bavaria, Italy and France. Stints in New England and the Pacific Northwest rounded out his experience. His French-inspired menu at 315 showcases his classical training and his study of American regional cuisine, while the extensive wine list reflects Moskow's global influences as well. He hand-picks each bottle, and is certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers. Recently, he added rare and world-class whiskey and other barrel-aged spirits to the menu.
Under Moskow's helm, 315 has received multiple distinction, from the Wine Spectator,'s Award of Excellence to a spot on the USA Today 10 Best list along with reviews from Gourmet, Bon Appetit and other publications. Locally, the Santa Fe Reporter chose 315 as Santa Fe’s Restaurant of the Year. Locals and visitors alike know 315 is a hot spot for romantic evenings, patio dining and regular wine dinners with acclaimed vintners . The restaurant also hosts celebratory feasts for Spanish and Indian markets, Bastille Day, Labor Day and more.
“I have an amazing clientele,”says Moskow. “I'm so lucky. They come in to have fun. It's always a joy to see them. “
Customers aren't the only ones having fun at 315. After two decades of toiling in a hot, steamy, crowded kitchen, Moskow still takes pleasure in his craft. “I've found a way to become more committed to what my customers want and at the same time satisfy my own creative needs, which are to obey the rules of seasonality and availability,” he explains.
“That said, I am going to jump around the world to bring in exotic, unique ingredient, which are an integral part of my cuisine. All the peripheral ingredients will be local but the exotic ingredients will be things like fresh King Crab from the Bering Sea, black truffles from Australia, chanterelles from Saskatchewan. My focus is to be respectful of the season and what's available, to only use sustainable ingredients. So you won't see tuna or Chilean sea bass on the menu. “
To obtain the freshest ingredients, Moskow scours the Santa Fe Farmers' Market every day it's open, searching, for instance, for peaches in summer to make a glaze for grilled Alaskan salmon or local lamb and root vegetables in winter to make Braised Local Lamb Shoulder with Wheat Berries and Smoked Root Vegetable Hash or Winter Spice Lamb Ravioli, a hearty dish that warms up the coldest of nights.
On the menu now, you'll find Soft Shell Crabs with Lobster Sauce paired with Zucchini Basil Crepes, along with Wild Alaskan Salmon topped with that aforementioned peach glaze and served with corn blinis and succotash—a combo of corn and fava beans as well as zucchini, pepper and onions, which lends a Creole flavor.
Also this summer, you'll find a warm Grilled Fairy Tale Eggplant with Shishotos and Basil Purée Salad as well as chilled Roasted Beet and Onions with House-Made Crème Fraiche, Lemon Purée and Basil and Mint Chiffonade. And that Australian black truffle exotic ingredient? Moskow is tossing those in fresh, house-made fettuccine with heavy cream.
“The most important thing about a dish is that it's compelling—you're compelled to eat it,” he says. “So it's about the flavors, the texture and how it's prepared to create textural flavor diversity.”
Another important factor to the food at 315 has to do with a concept Moskow has been tossing around lately, an idea he calls “foodborne wellness.” “It's the opposite of foodborne illness,” he explains. “I believe that by cooking at this seasonal pace, I'm promoting foodborne wellness. You're eating the right ingredients at the right time of year.”
In the end, Moskow believes that food works best when it's simply allowed to speak for itself. “I'm looking for ingredients that are best expressed when you do the least to them,” he says. “ It took me a long time to get this. It wasn't until I ate at Chez Panisse that I understood this. I had some corn and melon, ingredients that were just so profound in their expression. If it's best raw, then serve it raw.”