Taking bar food to the next level in the heart of Downtown
By Gail Guengerich
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
It’s quintessential Albuquerque—the westerly 400 block of Central. On one side the opulent-kitsch KiMo Theater (and stately Alibi offices), on the other, a somewhat seedy row of recurrently derelict storefronts.
Albuquerque’s ugly duckling Downtown has blossomed in the last decade, but she still has a few feathers missing. You can’t help rooting for new arrivals like Adieux Café—a lunch and late night gastropub that’s joined at the hip with the neighboring Effex Night Club.
Unless, of course, you never even notice it. Adieux is not a head-turner (probably because you’re gawking at the KiMo). It’s only on foot that you might be lured in for a beer by the café’s come-hither sandwich board messages on the sidewalk: “Life is too short for cheap beer.” And “Dear Math: Grow up, have a beer and solve your own problems. I am tired of solving them for you,” for example.
Some people need a little coaxing to stop for a beer when the wind chill factor is below freezing.
So you go inside, order a Delirium Tremens (on tap along with a bunch of New Belgians, Scrimshaw pilsner, La Cumbre and more), and 10 minutes later find yourself vis-à-vis KiMo eye candy, hooked up with a very good curry panini or Cuban, grooving to a playlist of New Order and Pixies in the middle of the afternoon.
Or maybe it’s a very different possible scenario involving a late-night, debaucherous, four-on-the floor dance marathon at Effex broken only by sandwiches.
It’s obvious from the sign on the door: “delivery/lunch/dinner/late night,” that Adieux has many faces. Too many maybe. The only rough edge of Adieux lies in a sort of identity crisis in atmosphere. Half sports bar, half mod gastropub, Adieux can’t quite decide between gloss and matte. Regard the corrugated steel paneling; sleek, glass pendant lamps; modern logo; and menus delivered in crisp fastener file folders. Intermix that with patches of fake brick veneer, a drop tile ceiling and four TVs broadcasting football games, and it’s not quite gelling. To wit: The playlist swerves from New Order to Tom Petty.
Open till 2am on weekends, Adieux harbors all the ingredients to establish itself as a late night fixture—beer, location, playfulness and varied seating configurations. Setting itself up as an annex of Effex should give both dance club and cafe an edge.
Not a big deal; Adieux has too much going for it to fizzle over décor.
Open till 2am on weekend, Adieux harbors all the ingredients to establish itself as a late night fixture—beer, location, playfulness and varied seating configurations. Setting itself up as an annex of Effex should give both dance club and cafe an edge.
And then there’s the kitchen—when it comes to food, Adieux isn’t just phoning it in with standard, boring bar fare. The “devilry” mentioned on the door touches their menu of inventive sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads. Think stock piles of brie, figs, brussel sprouts, beets, bacon, capicola and butternut hummus.
The curry panini (butternut hummus, sweet onions, red cabbage, spinach, avocado, cucumber and a curry aioli, $9) is fantastic, partly because it manages to strike that rare, petticoat-in-a-rowboat balance between dainty and rustic. The trick lies in good bread, modest layers of high-quality, flavorful veggies and just enough creamy avocado and hummus to lightly dress it all.
Adieux seems to aim for the slim, poetic sandwich in general. Most of the time they hit the mark—see the Rusty, an open-faced humdinger of earthy decadence ($10, preserved figs, prosciutto, arugula, shaved parmesan, balsamic drizzle). Sometimes they miscalculate, usually when ciabatta is involved. The chic, thin-sliced chicken with brie, bacon, raspberry vinaigrette and lettuce on ciabatta was underdressed, dry and clobbered by bread. Ditto for the caprese (both $9).
Then there’s the bull’s-eye—the strapping, open-faced Cuban ($11, pork tenderloin, capicola, bacon, Swiss, chipotle aioli and a relish of chopped apples, pickles and roasted red peppers on a pressed baguette). This one is satisfying in so many ways and rationed modestly enough to not ruin your day or evening with a leaden stomach.
The salads are also spectacular. Of particular note, the winter-perfect gemmi ($11), a platter of roasted brussel sprouts, bacon, portabella, spinach, dried cranberries—all tender—nectared-up with a tangy, fruity dressing.
The tacos ... well ... yes, worth every penny (2 for $5)—flavorful, melting meats (chili-lime carnitas win against the Dos Equis, green chile chicken and Negra Modelo, red-chile beef, which are also good), bedecked variously with pickled onions, queso fresco, crema, black bean puree and pico de gallo.
So see, whatever your late-night activities, now that Adieux is on the scene, the one thing you don’t need to regret the next day is your meal. Remember this adage: Dance responsibly, drink responsibly, eat responsibly. And by dance responsibly we mean anything from “no running man” to “no falling off speakers.” (If you see a friend doing the running man, tell him it’s time for a sandwich.)
And if you don’t dance, there’s always lunch or dinner. Welcome to the neighborhood, Adieux.
420 Central SW
Hours: Weekdays 11am to 2am Monday through Friday, 4pm to 2am Saturday
Price Range: $5 -$11
Extras: Delivery to downtown area, in-house spinning Wednesday after 10pm.
Vegetarian options: Yes
Note: 21 and over after 8pm
Alibi recommends: Cuban, gemmi salad, carnita tacos, curry panini
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