Hun­gry like the woof

Pasatiempo - - Restaurant Review - Su­san Mead­ows

If you are the weak-willed type like me, you may wish to avoid the Sleep­ing Dog Tav­ern. Who can re­sist potato chips and dip — es­pe­cially when the potato chips are made in-house, per­fectly crisp, and sprin­kled with pa­prika, and the dip is fresh green chile ranch? And what about those fresh lime mar­gar­i­tas that come in a per­sonal cock­tail shaker, which the ge­nial servers some­times leave on the ta­ble so you can top up your al­ready full glass? Se­ri­ously, it may be best to just walk on by those stairs on West San Fran­cisco Street that lead you down to this drink den.

That is, un­less you have a yen for a smokin’ good, juicy pulled pork and Ca­jun Tasso ham sand­wich slathered with chipo­tle may­on­naise that leaves you grate­ful for the cool­ing crunch of the fresh cab­bage and ji­cama slaw on the side. Un­for­tu­nately, not ev­ery­thing here achieves these same de­li­cious heights.

Sleep­ing Dog is op­er­ated by Santa Fe Din­ing, a restau­rant con­sor­tium with a num­ber of lo­cal and Albuquerque es­tab­lish­ments un­der its belt in­clud­ing Rio Chama, La Casa Sena, Blue Corn Café, Rooftop Pizze­ria, Chama River Brew­ing Com­pany, and Mar­ble Brew­ery. Nat­u­rally, Mar­ble and Chama River beers are on tap at Sleep­ing Dog in ad­di­tion to wine and cock­tails. And you may rec­og­nize for­mer Rio Chama chef Rueben Reyes, who now heads the kitchen. Em­pires some­times lack that lov­ing feel­ing com­ing from the kitchen, though, and that might be the prob­lem at Sleep­ing Dog Tav­ern.

The at­mos­phere within the bar area has a neigh­bor­hood pub feel with low, dark ceil­ings, high bar ta­bles and stools, and tele­vi­sion screens tuned to sports or a celebrity event. Christ­mas lights above the bar are an at­tempt at fes­tive­ness, which, in the half hour be­fore an event at the Len­sic, the bar achieves.

Per­haps some barfly in­stinct led me to pick some of the best of­fer­ings on the menu on my first visit to Sleep­ing Dog. The Cae­sar salad was crisp and fresh with a good dress­ing de­spite stan­dard-is­sue, un­re­mark­able crou­tons. Duck wraps made with mild house-smoked duck, crisp sweet ji­cama, and fresh let­tuce leaves served with se­same oil and soy dip­ping sauces had that salty-bar-snack thing go­ing while still tast­ing light and fresh. Then there were the chips and dip and that truly great pork sand­wich.

Ex­pect no magic from the “Chef’s Magic Mush­room Soup.” How­ever, the gen­er­ous cup is more like a bowl and would be fine for a quick lunch. One ap­pe­tizer — a com­bi­na­tion of goat cheese and to­biko caviar (fly­ing fish roe) stuffed in pick­led Pep­padew brand South African pep­pers — had an un­sa­vory, musty com­po­nent, and an off-fla­vor vinai­grette on an or­ganic greens salad did noth­ing to com­ple­ment or heighten the qual­ity of taste­less greens. Duck con­fit with sliced duck breast cooked to or­der was also nearly fla­vor­less, an at­tribute that sadly plagued the chipo­tle pork ribs, as well. A gummy sauce didn’t add to the en­joy­ment of the duck ei­ther. The “haystack car­rots” un­der the pork ribs were in­dis­tin­guish­able from medi­ocre shoe­string fries, so that the side of roasted pota­toes just seemed weird, while the duck was served with six rub­bery green beans. A peanut-but­ter brownie ice-cream sand­wich was vaguely dis­ap­point­ing, al­though bet­ter than the bread pud­ding.

The iso­lated pub­lic re­strooms, reached by a long lonely hall­way lined with closed shops, are plain spooky at night — enough to af­fect my de­ci­sion to re­turn. I’d have to re­ally be crav­ing chips and dip or that tongue-tin­gling pork sand­wich. With all the other op­tions in town, those at­trac­tions may not suf­fice.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.