One of the best Santa Fe parties in recent years was thrown by Bishop’s Lodge General Manager Angelica Palladino and her team to welcome their new chef, Pablo Peñalosa Najera. The event showed off the resort’s casual Southwestern elegance at its loveliest too. The sapphire sky gave way to a fiery sunset, followed by a star-spangled evening, ablaze with lanterns and hundreds of farolitos.
Bishop’s Lodge is Back
Bishop’s Lodge Resort nestles below the Sangre de Cristo range a few miles north of the Santa Fe Plaza in bucolic Tesuque. After an extended closure and change in ownership, as well as management, the resort reopened in mid-2022 as part of the Auberge Resorts Collection. The name comes from the period in the mid-19th century when this was the country retreat for Santa Fe’s Archbishop Lamy, known for — among other accomplishments—commissioning the city’s cathedral and Loretto Chapel. The Lodge’s combination of adobe and rustic wood buildings surrounds a jewel of a chapel constructed by the archbishop. The 300-acre property backs up to the Santa Fe National Forest with views up to the ski area above it, and out across the Rio Grande Valley.
I can’t imagine a more apt name for the main restaurant than Skyfire. A part of the old main lodge building, it sits at a lofty enough perch to take in the nightly show that is a New Mexico sunset. The dining room, a feast of Southwestern art and ornamentation, opens out to the view through a dozen glass doors. The bar shares the broad perspective. Both overlook the lengthy terrace, with a couple of wood-burning fireplaces and other fire features to keep guests warm on mountain evenings. The party welcoming the chef took full advantage of all the spaces, indoors and out.
Chef Pablo Peñalosa Najera
Many things on Chef Pablo’s resume piqued my interest prior to meeting him. He’s originally from Mexico City, and his love of food and cooking came from the meals prepared by his grandmother and the cultural importance of dining together. After culinary school there in CDMX, he headed to Spain to work in a pair of world-renowned restaurants, El Cellar de Can Roca and Martín Berasategui, known as among the finest in Spain. He returned to Mexico City to open Morimoto, then two Four Seasons properties in Columbia, and later MNKY HSE in London. He came here most directly from Cabo San Lucas two months ago and has been busy checking out local sources for ingredients as we swing into spring.
The Skyfire menu is evolving, and Chef Pablo’s new dishes will begin to roll out next week. Currently, my lunch favorites include the Cobb salad, the chicken enchilada dressed in red and green chiles with a shower of queso fresco, and the achiote-marinated shrimp tacos topped with a refreshing slaw. Chimayó red chile-rubbed brisket tacos are coming soon.
At the recent party, I was able to sample one of his new appetizers, hamachi crudo on housemade tostadas with a Mayan pumpkin seed and habanero chile salsa. The tostadas were a huge hit with the crowd. Another fish preparation will be whatever is fresh, seared, and served with mole verde, redolent of mint and cilantro. I look forward to pork belly in adobo, based on his grandmother’s recipe, but with the addition of fermented black garlic. Overnight resort guests can request a tamale-making experience, especially fun for a family or group of friends. Check out what else the chef’s up to by following him on Instagram at ChefPablo.
If your taste exceeds your budget, a great way to experience Bishop’s Lodge is to come during the Spirit Hour, really hours, 2 to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Several cocktails, wines, and beers are available at deep discounts and the bar menu is half-price. I’ve sampled the mushroom and goat cheese empanadas in flaky pastry, the chips with salsa and queso, and the charcuterie plate, tabla de la casa. I can’t wait to come back to try dishes like smoked chicharrones with Spanish romesco dip and crunchy bits of puffed rice, and bison tartare with red chile, pickled onions, and smoked pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
Easter Brunch and Eggs and More
I’ve always loved holidays at Bishop’s Lodge. Despite its elegance, there’s a hominess to it that feels comforting, whether Mothers’ Day, the Fourth of July, Christmas, or Easter. On Sunday, April 17, Chef Pablo has planned a three-course menu that will include a grand dessert display to finish off the meal. Come in time to watch — or have your kids or grandkids participate in — the Easter egg hunt in the meadow. One golden egg promises an extra-special reward. Make reservations soon if you’d like to be part of this sure-to-be-special day.