Alibi V.15 No.42 • Oct 19-25, 2006 

The Dish

All the News That's Fit to Eat

Yet Another Excuse to Eat Chocolate--There's a new haven for chocolate lovers in the Northeast Heights with your mama's name written all over it. Not literally, of course, but your mother will probably love this place. Kocoa Tree is a chocolate boutique from the gals who own Glazed Hams and More (5850 Eubank NE), sisters-in-law Dianne Kennedy and Connie Kennedy-Windiate. The shop is conveniently located right down the street, in the old To Die for Fudge space in the shopping center at Eubank and Osuna (right next to the Barley Room). I walked in this weekend just as Dianne and Connie were stocking the shelves with gourmet chocolates, which they say will include house-made fudges and big, imported Belgian truffles. (They showed me a box--they're the size of golf balls.) There's also a quaint coffee bar area, and lots of gift basket filler like Gund stuffed animals and jewelry. Like I said, this place was made for moms. They should be open by now, but call them at 796-0102 to get the proper store hours.

One of These Things is Not Like the Others--Last week's Best of Burque Restaurants issue was jam-packed with familiar faces like Rudy's (Bar-BQ), O’Niell’s (Pub) and Yanni’s (Mediterranean Grill), with one notable exception--Midtown Café. You ever hear of it? No one at the Alibi had either. And to complicate matters, its number and address are unlisted. Nevertheless, enough readers knew and loved Midtown Café to help it tie for first place in this year's Best About Fulfilling Custom Orders category. It's an honor they share with heavyweights Baggin’s Gourmet Sandwiches, Flying Star Café, Outback Steakhouse and Scalo Northern Italian Grill.

Owner Cathie Rush considers herself in good company. She says she and the rest of her employees were shocked and overjoyed to make the list, and since her business is a little off the beaten path, she got in touch with the Alibi to fill us in.

It turns out Midtown Café is a little 30-seat eatery in the Bank of the West Building (the tall specimen with gold windows overlooking San Mateo) at 5301 Central NE, Suite 205. Cathie has owned the breakfast and lunch counter for about nine months, along with another café called Downtown Depot in the Compass Bank building across town. She also runs Timeline Catering, which was selected as the exclusive caterer for Quality New Mexico (a nonprofit organization that, among other things, seeks to reward quality in local businesses). Cathie says food is what she was born to do. "If I won the lottery I would still be doing this," she says. "Maybe I'd paint the walls a new color, too." Her secret to success includes working well with people (the cashier at Midtown is Cathie's best friend from high school), making everything from scratch (she cites her brownies and champagne vinaigrette dressing as excellent examples) and using fresh, organic produce whenever possible. "Great ingredients with a little bit of sense makes great food. The rest is easy." Stop in from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. to test her theory.