By Laura Marrich
Petroleum Requiem—For a little more than half a century, the Petroleum Club served as a central gathering spot for ladies who lunched in neat, white cotton gloves; bridge games with high social stakes; and steak-and-martini business lunches that had historic consequences for our city. The members-only restaurant was at one time attended by the city's most well-heeled and influential people, making the Petroleum Club a well-oiled social machine of the first order.
The Petroleum Club was renowned as much for its unparalleled Downtown views as being unapologetically old-school. Table-side preparations of Caesar salad, steak Dianne and banana's Foster hearkened back to a more formal, glamorous time, when people still "dressed" for dinner. But the Petroleum Club's greatest strength was also their undoing. The menu became staid and stodgy—like many of the dishes they offered, lobster bisque ceased to be on the cutting edge more than 20 years ago—and older members simply got older. In what was most certainly the restaurant's coup de grace, dues were raised (the membership activation fee went to $250, with up to $75 in monthly dues, plus the already-pricey cost of meals). Would-be younger members were discouraged by the high ticket and the club's perceived outdated amenities. With a dwindling pool of members to cull its dues from, the club became delinquent in paying its high-rise rent. The 15th floor club-cum-restaurant on Fifth Street and Marquette closed on Sunday, Feb. 18, forever.
The club's memory lives on in a legacy of fine dining instilled in this little desert community, however, as articulated in the Petroleum Club's credo: "Exquisite cuisine, impeccable service, stunning views and true elegance—everything you demand in fine dining—await you in your own hometown."
On Fire—The wickedly hot National 19th Annual Fiery Foods and Barbecue Show returns this weekend to the striking Sandia Resort and Casino Events Center (I-25 and Tramway). Of course, there's going to be hundreds of booths brimming with improbable chile pepper products. (Habañero fudge? Chipotle soda pop? OK, fine, but I'm drawing the line at green chile cheesecake.) But you definitely won't want to miss the event’s new celebrity cooking demonstrations, which feature some of our favorite foodies behind the range. For example, on Saturday, March 3, you can see Sam Etheridge, executive chef of Ambrozia, from noon-1 p.m., Mastering Barbecue author Mike Stines from 1-2 p.m. and our own former food editor, Gwyneth Doland, from 3:30-4:30 p.m., plus others. Consult this week's "Food Calendar" for all the nitty-gritty information.
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