I've got lots of juicy food news to report this week, my little piglets! Last month SFR music columnist Gabe Gomez spoke with Swig manager Patrick Padilla and reported that Swig would close for a month of renovations to the upper level, but reopen in April, still as Swig [Ruckus, Feb. 14: "Wave of Reinvention"]. But a marketing director, Jamye Mannick, recently hired by Swig owner Min Park, now tells me that the nature of Swig's makeover will be more extensive. Mannick says Park intends to turn part of the club's top floor into a full-service restaurant called 32 Stairs-the name refers to what Mannick calls a "hidden staircase" that leads directly into the restaurant area. When we spoke, Park had yet to make a final decision on the chef position, but Mannick says the food will be Asian fusion, with a little bit of New Mexican flavor. Diners will be able to order a few Asian tapas and cocktails or a full three-course dinner. Yes, it will likely be open only for dinner.
The nightclub downstairs, known as the "red room," will be called Fusion. Mannick says they plan to incorporate the art of music, performance and food. "We want to break away from some of the stereotypes of Swig," she tells me. What stereotypes, you ask? "People felt like it was too pretentious or, at the end, that it was kind of ghetto," Mannick says. "We're still going to keep a lounge going because there's nowhere for people to go who want that kind of atmosphere. [Park] wants to provide that for Santa Fe, but in a quality way." With the sit-down restaurant upstairs and a new focus downstairs, they hope to attract a "quality" crowd. They hope to exhibit art by undiscovered artists, and to host events ***image2***for community organizations and fund-raisers. The target date for reopening is March 30 but, as anyone who's ever renovated a house knows, that date is tentative.
LOS MAYAS GOES UPTOWN
In other news, Fernando Trillo, who owns Los Mayas Restaurante (409 W. Water St., 986-9930), has opened a new restaurant next to El Farol on Canyon Road. It's the same sunny corner space formerly occupied by Sol Café. The new place, called San Miguel Restaurante, is intentionally more upscale than Los Mayas. Outside, there is service on front and back patios. Inside, Trillo did a wonderful job renovating the dining rooms, with warm, buff-colored walls capped by dark vigas, wide-planked wood floors in the front room and brick everywhere else. Rustic, antique-looking metal sconces and chandeliers complete the Old Santa Fe look. The kitchen, too, was revamped, but some more extensive renovations were denied because of the building's historic status, Trillo says.
Some of the food here is similar to the classic Mexican food found at Los Mayas, like pollo en mole (chicken in a Oaxacan black mole sauce) and chile en nogada (a poblano pepper stuffed with ground beef, pork, fruit and nuts in a walnut sauce). But what you won't find here are any of those Mexican fast-food menu items. "Because we're on Canyon Road, it has to be more elegant," Trillo explains. "The clientele, they expect nicer presentation and a better quality of food." But Trillo's idea of quality also means authentic. "We try to do old-fashioned food, like grandmother food," he says, "but not everything is rice and beans, chimichangas and tacos." One of his chefs is from Oaxaca (home of the famous "seven moles of Oaxaca"), and the other is New Mexican, so on the menu you'll find a green chile cheeseburger, then a cactus "burger" made from a prickly pear cactus paddle on a fluffy little bun. Blue corn enchiladas are served stacked, with shredded chicken and your choice of red chile, green chile…or mole. The prices are a bit high for locals ($9.50 cactus "burger," guacamole made tableside for $9), but tourists wandering in from Canyon Road probably won't even blink.
On a preliminary visit, some friends and I found beautiful ambiance and a fine mole negro, but soggy hand-cut french fries and painfully slow service. So I was happy to hear Trillo say he's hired a consultant-formerly of the French Laundry, in Yountville, Calif.-to advise him on front- and back-of-the-house issues. The consultant is expected to start the weekend of March 17-18, approximately the same time Trillo says he will expand the restaurant's hours. Right now, San Miguel serves breakfast and lunch from 10:30 am to 3 pm, but Trillo says he'll soon be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 8 am-10 pm every day.
San Miguel Restaurante
802 Canyon Road
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