The green chile pork stew captured our hearts and brought friends back for more. Served with three cheese quesadilla wedges, at $6.95 for a large bowl it has got to be one of the best buys in town.
Located between Susan’s Fine Wine and Spirits and Tiny’s in the shopping plaza at the intersection of St. Francis Drive and Cerrillos Road, The Detour Kitchen is hard to see and hard to reach. But the newest project of Santa Fe restaurateur Ziggy Rzig, who formerly operated Omira and an international market at the same location, is worth the search.
The menu, which features the same options at the same prices at both lunch and dinner, is divided between House Specialties and Local Favorites, with soups, salads, tacos, burritos, burgers, dips and other starters filling in the gaps.
The guacamole is clearly made from scratch. On one visit, large nuggets of avocado gave the creamy dip some welcome texture; a topping of diced tomatoes, onion, and peppers added crunch and spice. A few days later, an equally fresh and chunky bowl of guac looked entirely different: Blended with a small amount of chopped onion and a few bits of tomato, the added color and bright herbal flavor came from minced epazote and cilantro.
The calamari starter was browner and crisper than expected, but the audible crunch, from panko rather than fine breadcrumbs or a rice flour batter, was addictive. Our first serving featured larger than usual pieces of perfectly cooked tentacles, rings, and body tubes; our second order was equally tender and crunchy, although the pieces were smaller and the bowl included a few rounds of battered and fried green chile.
The trio of sliders (ground beef, lamb, and eggwith plant) was well cooked and well presented, a generous side of crispy, salty, hand-cut fries. The smoky wedges of eggplant stacked with a slab of grilled zucchini and a strip of sweet, roasted red pepper was the most interesting of the group — and one of several available vegetarian options on the meat-forward menu.
On one occasion, the stew was garnished with a large handful of frizzled sweet potatoes that added a pop of color and crunch to the dish. Another time the bowl was topped only with a light sprinkle of cheese. Like the guacamole, both versions were delicious — but the variations in presentation made me think that dining at The Detour Kitchen was a bit like opening Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: You just never knew what you were going to get.
That kind of freehand interpretation may have been a large part of the problem with the least successful dishes we tried. The charred sirloin, described on the tableside menu as “sous vide prepared and finished on the grill to achieve your ideal temperature” showed no sign of time spent in the hot water bath that can tenderize tough cuts of meat and deliver an exact amount of doneness. The large, flat, thin piece of meat, covered in an unadvertised thick gravy, was not medium-rare, as requested,