If the ghost of Sis­ter Ge­orge lingers in the spook­ier, low-ceilinged halls that lead to Lu­mi­naria, that seems to be where she’ll stay. The restau­rant is a good bet for down-to-earth din­ers who crave clas­sic recipes car­ried out with grace. Guests at ta­bles

Pasatiempo - - RESTAURANT REVIEW -

the cigar-smok­ing nun who’s ru­mored to haunt the halls of the Inn and Spa at Loretto, would not be caught dead in Lu­mi­naria. The ho­tel’s sleek restau­rant projects a thor­oughly un­haunted, Martha Ste­wart-goes-South­west vibe, with its dark gray walls, ban­quettes, and cush­ioned wicker chairs, along with white­washed vi­gas, a kiva fire­place, a cop­per-topped bar, and a co­pi­ous num­ber of throw pil­lows. Some ta­bles are co­zily tucked into pri­vate nooks; lav­ish cur­tained ra­madas sit out­side the im­mac­u­late west-fac­ing win­dows for pa­tio din­ing in the warmer months. The over­all ef­fect is un­der­stated chic: It’s the kind of place your well-heeled Con­necti­cut cousin might choose for her wed­ding re­cep­tion. In Au­gust, Lu­mi­naria wel­comed ex­ec­u­tive chef An­thony Smith (for­merly of the El­do­rado Ho­tel and Spa), and his lead­er­ship steers a mostly wellex­e­cuted menu that leans, like the restau­rant’s decor, to­ward sim­ple, safe el­e­gance.

A re­cent visit be­gan with earthly plea­sures. A bread bas­ket con­tained an en­tic­ing va­ri­ety of warm good­ies: pepita-red-chile bis­cotti, fra­grant rose­mary bread, and pun­gent sour­dough along­side a soft globe of pinksea-salted but­ter. Our cock­tails were well mixed — a green chile gim­let com­bined chile, gin, and fresh lime juice with a red-chile­sugar-rimmed glass, while a blood-or­ange sil­ver coin mar­garita was a blush­ing pink sweet-tart de­light. The crab cake, served with a bright saf­fron aioli and green ap­ple match­sticks, was ad­dic­tively fla­vor­ful, hold­ing its struc­ture re­mark­ably well. Plump, lightly bat­tered squash blos­soms stuffed with goat cheese and ac­com­pa­nied by salted blis­tered shishito pep­pers were so tasty they didn’t need their green chile dip.

A grilled Cae­sar salad was less suc­cess­ful — with some let­tuce charred and some limp — as was a seared tuna ap­pe­tizer that ar­rived much more medium than rare. Sous vide buf­falo short ribs and a New York strip steak, while well cooked, both suf­fered from too-salty mari­nades, though their re­spec­tive sides of An­son Mills grits and crispy frites went a good ways to­ward mak­ing up for the overzeal­ous salter. The blue corn en­chi­ladas served with filet mignon, to which we added a suc­cu­lent lob­ster tail, were an ex­er­cise in straight-up de­li­cious deca­dence.

A seem­ingly ba­sic roasted or­ganic chicken with patatas bravas and caramelized corn im­pressed us — the bird was juicy and well sea­soned and had a rich jus that in­fused and el­e­vated the crisp home fries and corn. A sa­vory grilled pork chop, a touch over­cooked, ar­rived bathed in a spicy-sweet dark-brown mole, while its ac­com­pa­ny­ing for­est-green poblano rel­leno re­vealed an en­tic­ing pud­dle of melted Tu­cum­cari ched­dar in­side.

Desserts are stel­lar. A ba­nana choco­late bread pud­ding with bour­bon glaze and crème Anglaise, stud­ded with choco­late chips, was a gooey de­light, while a dark choco­late mousse with hazel­nut pra­line had a crunchy choco­late cookie bot­tom.

Lu­mi­naria’s Sun­day brunch menu of­fers the chance to try the “Reign­ing Chomp” of the 2016 Green Chile Cheese­burger Smack­down, a burger called the Santa Fe Au­tumn Roast ($15). Served on an An­gel’s Bak­ery bun, it’s a siz­able lump of a grass-fed beef patty with house-made pancetta, Tu­cum­cari ched­dar cheese, green chile, and creamy av­o­cado spread, along­side a cone of tasty golden fries. One bite of the patty alone con­firmed the burger’s champ sta­tus; the beef is big on com­plex, char-grilled fla­vor; the pancetta added a sat­is­fy­ing crunch; and the ched­dar is a nat­u­ral pair­ing. Our chile, which in­cluded flecks of red and yel­low, wasn’t as hot as we would have liked, but we were glad to have picked this win­ner.

The tor­tilla soup ($10), a rich tomato-based broth full of smoky chicken chunks — to which we added the chips, av­o­cado, and lime served on the side — proved to be a su­pe­rior stan­dard, warm­ing and fill­ing. The pump­kin waf­fles ($14) came with sub­tle gin­ger cream and warm maple syrup; the earthy, sweet pump­kin bat­ter, redo­lent with vanilla, was nicely browned on the sides but soft as bread. Th­ese dis­ap­peared quickly.

Too of­ten, fine din­ing can come off as com­pli­cated and overly fussy, but Lu­mi­naria is a good bet for down-to-earth din­ers (al­beit those with fat wal­lets) who crave clas­sic recipes car­ried out with grace and com­pe­tent servers who do not hover. On each visit, guests at ta­bles all around us looked cheer­ily sat­is­fied … and de­cid­edly ghost-free. If Sis­ter Ge­orge lingers in the spook­ier, low-ceilinged halls that lead to the restau­rant, as one for­mer concierge claims she does, that seems to be where she’ll stay. But Lu­mi­naria does mix a mean Man­hat­tan, and I hear those go well with a good cigar.

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