Some of the worst-kept secrets are the best hidden. The Compound can be found off a gravel driveway in a secluded clump of trees between the Santa Fe River and Canyon Road. Not that it's possible to "discover" this gem; chef and owner Mark Kiffin won the James Beard Foundation's "Best Chef in the Southwest 2005" award. The Compound provides a serene setting for fine dining with stellar food and service and exudes elegance without the pretension. The food

here is clean and classy, just like the whitewashed adobe walls of the dining rooms. Kiffin's signature dishes, like tuna tartare with


Osetra caviar and preserved lemon, would be at home in any top restaurant in the country. In fact, the menu is notable for its lack of New Mexican influence, instead highlighting deliciously extravagant ingredients like foie gras, sweetbreads, caviar, lobster and filet mignon using classic techniques and novel presentations. The experience of  a trip to The Compound feels like a culinary vacation to another city.

653 Canyon Road, 982-4353.

Dinner nightly. Lunch Monday through Saturday. $$$