Conventional wisdom calls Geronimo the best restaurant in Santa Fe. Why? There are many fabulous places to eat here, but what Geronimo definitely does better than the rest is

act like

the best restaurant in town. The austere white walls and stark minimalism of the dining room set a formal stage for the starched and poised servers. The menu never fails to include at least a short list of ingredients you've never heard of (fennel pollen?) and combinations you can't quite imagine (eggplant and artichoke Israeli couscous risotto?). The napkins are starched, the wine glasses Riedel and the flatware


. Conversation is kept to a low murmur, largely because the tables are very close together (so close, in fact, that they have to be pulled out into the dining room in order to allow guests on the banquette to get in or out). But when the food comes, conversation usually stops. Foundations of fish are stacked with steeples of vegetables and spires of garnish, carefully arranged atop white china plates in shapes heretofore unseen on Santa Fe's tables. A silver-dollar crab cake may seem to have been dropped from outer space onto a divot of buttery leeks parked in the middle of a piece of china shaped like a futuristic overpass.

And that's just the first course.

People come here for a meal that's special, different from their everyday routines. And that's exactly the kind of experience Geronimo delivers.

724 Canyon Road, 982-1500,

. Brunch Sunday; lunch Tuesday-Sunday; dinner nightly. $$$$