Good food is forever
People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the Land of the Dead. But sometimes, something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul cannot rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right. And then, afterwards, everyone can share the Mediterranean scallop appetizer from Corrales’ Indigo Crow with a glass of Zinfandel and all wrongs will become right.
OK, so maybe I added that last part, but I bet the Goths and tragic movie fans will appreciate the homage paid while everyone else can just remember how totally cool Brandon Lee was. I was thinking of these things when I left my comfy patio seat at Indigo Crow to explore the interior, and was met with some dark and trippy metal crow hangies in the dining room. Granted, the crow stuff was a bit of a clash next to the bright, very alive artwork of beloved locals Stephen Bennett and Kelly Cozak, but I was only really there for the food.
The drive out to Corrales was a pain in the gas tank, but so rarely do I have a chance to get such truly elegant chow in an incidental outdoor setting that my trek was soon forgotten and my Chef’s Wine Dinner (two entrées and a bottle of wine for $45) became the focus of my karmic energy.
Every Thursday, the fine cooks and resident chef Jacob Williams prepare the dinner, and this week’s choices were “drunken shrimp,” spicy glazed shrimp with citrus rice and seasonal vegetables, basil marinara pasta with sautéed mushrooms over farfalle (bowtie) pasta, blackberry-glazed chicken with rice and seasonal vegetables, or the grilled pork with cranberry chutney, mashed potatoes and vegetables. Two of these could be paired with a wine choice from three decent picks; the La Playa Sauvignon Blanc, Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay or the Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel.
I’ve actually tried all three wines before, and the chardonnay is grapefruit and flowers with a bare hint of earth, the Zinfandel is very deep with blackberries and noticeable licorice, and the Sauvignon Blanc is actually a favorite of mine with a predominantly grass/apple taste. I chose the Sauvignon, the pasta and the shrimp, and settled back to read the surprisingly long and involved menu.
Owners Don and Regina Raber must’ve spent the last five years on the menu alone, because much like The Crow (the comic, for all you purists), it is divided into chapters. Thankfully for their patrons, the headings aren’t fear, pain or despair, but Sunday brunch, lunch salads and appetizers, sandwiches and pasta, dinner appetizers, and salads and entrees. When asked to break it down to the most popular items on the menu, owner Don did not hesitate to say the chef’s cut filet mignon and the lobster ravioli, the latter of which is handmade.
I found some extraordinary dishes like the grilled romaine salad, which is hearts of romaine lettuce lightly grilled and topped with Gorgonzola cheese, oven-dried tomatoes and vodka vinaigrette, and the appetizer of clams in a chipotle butter sauce served with crostini. The dinner lobster salad is likely a crowd-pleaser (when isn’t lobster pleasing?) made with arugula, shaved fennel, onions and claw meat in a citrus vinaigrette, and the Greek-style ravioli served open-faced with feta and ricotta cheeses, tomatoes and kalamata olives.
My food arrived before I finished perusing the menu, but a bowl in the hand is worth two in the kitchen, so I began my decidedly untragic love affair with the drunken shrimp. It is safe to say that I took advantage of them in their inebriated state (I heard that they were grilled in sake, brandy, whiskey and sherry), and the glaze was spicy, the tails were charred and the expertly shaped citrus rice was fragrant with zest and hot ginger, and topped with kelp and sesame seeds. I adored the fact that all of the vegetables I saw this evening were shaved into thin slices, and the sweet carrot ribbons simply melted into the creamy side sauce.
The pasta portion was ample, and my farfalle perfectly cooked (I like mine a hair past al dente), showcasing a light but robustly flavored tomato sauce topped off with crisp fried leaves of basil. Could this meal be perfect? From the polished red brick floors to the silver citronella torches to the fresh autumn flowers on the tables, I was very much impressed.
Then came the infinite blackness that tortured my bleeding soul. OK, maybe that was a bit too dramatic, but the dessert menu had one fatal flaw. Think about the old “Sesame Street” song, “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other,” and imagine a dessert menu with sugary, luscious selections like a flourless chocolate torte, vanilla crème brûlée, citrus panna cotta (a thick, Italian custard) and ... Oreo cheesecake. Not that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with Oreo cheesecake, but it just seemed better suited for a bake sale than this fine menu. But every pearl has a flaw, and when all was said, eaten and done, I walked away from this restaurant with a deep sense of fulfillment and a box of leftover pasta.
One crow, sorrow, two crows, joy, three crows for a girl, four crows for a boy, five crows for silver, six crows for gold, seven crows for a secret that’s never been told … and the eighth crow said, ‘Man, I’m stuffed.’
OK, so maybe I embellished this quote a bit, too. But you see, my Goth-kid card was revoked back in 1998, so I’m just dealing with the pain and emptiness. At least I won’t have to do it on an empty stomach.