Tony Nethery is moving to Miami, Fla., to take a job as Sous Chef at Douglas Rodriguez' new restaurant OLA Steak. Nethery had been chef at Monte Vista Fire Station until the end of last year, when he became partners with Johnny Orr in the cheese and sandwich shop Relish (Wyoming between Louisiana and Pennsylvania). Nethery will remain a silent partner in the business after he leaves, which he said will happen before the end of February. Yes, it does seem sudden, but Nethery told me the job was too good to pass up; he couldn't resist the opportunity to work with such a well-known chef (Rodriguez was also behind the popular restaurant Chicama in New York City). Plus, Nethery's wife Melina (who also happens to the be the younger sister of my former coworker Sergio Salvador) is pregnant with their first child, so if they were going to make a move, it would be best to do it before they start hatching chicks. Pastry chef Ted Nicely, who spent the past few years making desserts for Monte Vista and Ambrozia, will join Nethery at OLA Steak. I will cry myself to sleep tonight, knowing I've had the last of Nethery's pork and grits creations and Nicely's awesome ice creams. The city will be way less yummy without the three of them.
Bye bye to Café Milagro, also. The restaurant, brewery and bottle shop in Bernalillo closed Feb. 14, after a very busy Valentine's Day. Owner Sonya Logan told me “At least we went out with a bang. It was a great night!” Logan is looking to sell the building, a very pretty, light-filled rambler with an exceptional view of the mountains and bosque. She plans to spend the foreseeable future spending more time with her grandchildren. “Enough's enough with this business!” she told me, exasperation in her voice, “I'm too old!” No word yet on where Milagro's chef James O'Brien will land.
In other depressing news, I walked past Ermy's (Seventh Street and Tijeras) last week and was surprised to find it empty. My dependable informant Len Romano e-mailed the very next day to lament Ermy's loss. “While it was never the hottest lunch spot in town,” he wrote, “it was always there, always open, and it was a real neighborhood joint.” He went on to recall how, “Back in October of 1994, after we'd signed the rental agreement on our first apartment in Albuquerque, we went across the street to Ermy's and that's where we were first introduced to red and green. I will never forget that experience because after being there for five minutes, explaining that we knew nothing about red or green and that we'd just moved into the neighborhood, Ermy took the time to introduce us to at least a dozen customers. They all smiled, offered a hand, and said ’Welcome to the neighborhood'. Things like that make an impression.” Romano and I share the hope that another café will soon take Ermy's place in the neighborhood.