Restau­rant Re­view

Sec­ond Street Brew­ery at the Rai­l­yard

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - Alex Heard

My loy­alty to Sec­ond Street Brew­ery at the Rai­l­yard was ce­mented on a sunny but frigid day last win­ter. I was near the Plaza, march­ing around with some out-of-town vis­i­tors, when we all re­al­ized we were hun­gry. It was a busy day for tourists, and stops at var­i­ous popular down­town places re­sulted in the grim spec­ta­cle of long lines. By then, “hun­gry” had mor­phed into “very hun­gry,” so I quickly re­viewed our op­tions and dou­ble-timed us over to the Rai­l­yard.

Things were bustling there, too, but we lucked out: We were seated af­ter just a few min­utes, and be­fore long there were good draft beers on the ta­ble and de­cent brew­pub food on the way. The wait­ers were stressed and over­worked, but they did right by us at ev­ery turn. The ex­pe­ri­ence was a re­minder that, for years, Santa Feans have been for­tu­nate to have this spa­cious and pleas­ant restau­rant as an an­chor in the Rai­l­yard area, through good eco­nomic times and bad.

Whether you go to Sec­ond Street day or night, this is a great place to so­cial­ize. The staff will gladly ac­com­mo­date groups, and the out­door seat­ing area, which of­fers a good view of the Rail Run­ner’s com­ings and go­ings, is a fun spot on a sum­mer af­ter­noon or evening. There’s also a trivia night — Geeks Who Drink, held on Thurs­days — and live mu­sic on week­ends.

Which isn’t to say Sec­ond Street is per­fect. Un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances, I tend to rate it as a de­pend­able place to drink and a weaker choice for lunch or din­ner, an im­pres­sion that held up dur­ing two re­cent vis­its.

The flag­ship Sec­ond Street Brew­ery and restau­rant — at 1814 Sec­ond St. — pro­duces the many dif­fer­ent craft beers that are sold here. At the Rai­l­yard restau­rant, your ta­ble’s condi­ment caddy will fea­ture a list of regular of­fer­ings — ev­ery­thing from a light kolsch to hoppy IPAs to a rich, dark Bel­gian stout — and a wall-mounted menu of the eight beers avail­able that day. (The wall list is more ac­cu­rate.) In ad­di­tion to beer, there’s a short wine list, hard cider, and a range of soft drinks. If you can’t find some­thing to drink among all that, you’d bet­ter sig­nal for a glass of wa­ter.

Dur­ing a din­ner trip with two other peo­ple, I opted for the lav­ish Orig­i­nal Alien Burger, which won the Judge’s Choice Award at the 2014 Green Chile Cheese­burger Smack­down. This tall-stack cre­ation re­quires the use of two hands, be­cause there’s a lot of stuff slid­ing around: a thick patty of Black An­gus beef, smoked ba­con, melted cheese, green chile, a blue corn chile rel­leno, fried onions, gua­camole, and chipo­tle mayo. I liked it, but it’s def­i­nitely both a mess and a calo­rie bomb. It comes with fries, which makes for an even heav­ier pay­load. If that’s more food than you want, ask about get­ting a side salad in place of the fries.

Ev­ery­thing else we tried that night was heavy, too. We shared an ap­pe­tizer of so-so potato skins that were striped with sour cream and sprin­kled with scal­lion greens and salsa, and we tried two hearty sand­wiches, one fea­tur­ing the Rai­l­yard’s popular pulled pork and the other a patty melt with buf­falo meat. Both were fine, but nei­ther was out­stand­ing. Like a lot of bar­be­cue in Santa Fe, the pulled pork got its fla­vor pri­mar­ily from the sauce.

Dur­ing a sec­ond visit, for lunch, I tried items that fea­tured more va­ri­ety, start­ing with an ap­pe­tizer for two called the New Mex­ico Farmer’s Plate. The cen­ter­piece: two gen­er­ous pat­ties of good, spicy lamb sausage. Ac­com­pa­ny­ing that was a sprout salad with car­rots and a lemony dress­ing, cor­ni­chons, a cou­ple of ser­vice­able chut­neys, bland sliced cheese, and a skimpy-sized piece of French bread. (For what it’s worth, the menu ad­ver­tised “toast points.”)

My lunch en­tree was dis­ap­point­ing: pan-seared trout with a blue corn crust and a red sauce de­scribed as “chile beurre blanc.” This would be a white but­ter sauce with red chile added — an in­ter­est­ing con­cept, but it tasted dull com­pared with stan­dard red chile sauce. The trout was leath­ery, and the veg­eta­bles on the side — green beans and cubes of sweet potato — tasted wa­tery. I soothed my­self with a brownie sun­dae, a guilty plea­sure that con­sists of a warm choco­late brownie, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and caramel and choco­late sauces.

Sec­ond Street Brew­ery at the Rai­l­yard does good busi­ness, so there’s prob­a­bly no par­tic­u­lar ur­gency there about the food menu. Still, a lit­tle more at­ten­tion to de­tail and in­gre­di­ents would be nice, be­cause it might trans­form this restau­rant from a “maybe” to a “must.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.