Artichoke Café's (Central and Edith) expansion is nearly complete but more improvements are on the way. I finally got a chance to check out the work they did last year, converting an underused back patio into an extra kitchen, wine room and two new private dining rooms. Following a popular movement in the restaurant industry, owners Pat and Terry Keene created the new space in the hopes of attracting more business functions and private parties. The two dining rooms can be booked separately or opened up into one larger space seating up to 60 people. In addition, the couple plans to spruce up the small attached patio space. Call 243-0200 if you're looking for space for an upcoming function.
Looking for a real food adventure in the Northeast Heights? Several readers have written in to recommend Chihuahua's Mexican Buffet, a recently-opened restaurant located in the former Pacific Pearl building on Osuna just east of San Mateo. Chihuahua, which lies directly south of New Mexico, is the largest state in Mexico and is the provenance of many of Albuquerque's Mexican immigrants. On the day I visited, my party was the only one not speaking Spanish at the table. The other patrons appeared to be homesick Chihuahuans, taking a break from work for some familiar grub. If so, they probably had better luck than we did in figuring out what the dishes in the steam table were—nothing was labeled, not even in Spanish. Sure, we recognized the taquitos, enchiladas, chimichangas and posole, but there were many that stumped us. We tried a little bit of almost everything and for the most part, it was delicious. We used our small corn tortillas to wrap all the different little bits of meat and potato swimming in various flavorful broths and sauces, washing it all down with a tall glass of horchata. A warning, though: This place is not for the unadventurous eater. If you're not comfortable not knowing what you're eating then you'd do best to stick with Applebee's. Adventurous eaters should brush up on their Spanish.
Cow plus herring equals omega-3 milk plus grossed-out consumers. Adding iodine to salt and vitamin D to milk are two of the really good food-fortifying ideas we've had. Making cows eat ground-up herring to produce milk that contains small amounts of DHA (one of the beneficial fatty acids) is just plain dumb but that's exactly what Canada's largest food processor and distributor has done. Cows are supposed to eat grass, not fish. And in order to consume as much DHA as there is in a 3-ounce piece of salmon you'd have to drink 60 glasses of the milk. Is anyone else having flashbacks to the Super Colon Blow Cereal bit on "Saturday Night Live?" The one that parodied Total cereal commercials with a dangerously large tower of cereal bowls?