When we at SFR heard Blue Corn Brewery was retiring its longstanding name and rebranding to Hidden Mountain Brewing Co., we all laughed and made ranch dressing jokes. But after sampling some takeout the other night, I'm glad to report that the Southside eatery and brewery appears to be on the right track.
First, the bad news: The onetime Blue Corn Brewery location off the Plaza has closed for good, so anyone who lived closer to that one/loved that place is out of luck now. If it helps, however, the rebrand puts the restaurant in a better position to serve locals, according to Head Brewer Paul Mallory.
Mallory tells SFR the name change has been in play for a few years, and that the COVID-19 pandemic seems a good time to try something new. With the downtown location closed—and with it, Mallory says, the strange balancing act of trying to appeal to both locals and tourists alike—the flagship Hidden Mountain Brewing Co. (4056 Cerrillos Road, 438-1800) is all in on making Santa Feans happy.
Foodwise, my companion and I (both pescatarians) sampled the fish and chips ($16) and the grilled salmon ($20). Made with cod, the fish and chips came as three satisfyingly breaded and crispy portions of the white fish. Like pizza, even the not-great fish and chips of the world are pretty OK, but Hidden Mountain nailed it on both the flavor and presentation fronts. The fish was firm and flavorful and the included tartar sauce and coleslaw accentuated the taste with a slightly sweet and aromatic counterpoint. The chips were perhaps a tad wilted, though that was probably more to do with the drive home—and anyway, they were obviously hand-cut and flavorful nonetheless.
The grilled 6-oz. salmon elicited a sincere "Ohmygod!" from my dining partner, particularly for its cherry chipotle barbecue sauce. On the side, rich mashed potatoes and green beans not only expanded the overall dish's texture game, but tasted "better and different than most mashed potatoes I've had." We think it's about the amount of butter used—we appreciate the amount of butter used.
Further, Mallory explains, the company's beer game is a-changing, both in his decision to retire a number of brews (say goodbye to the brown ale and the honey wheat) to make room for more exciting experiments.
"I've always had a lot of creative freedom, but now I think I have even more," Mallory says with a laugh. "I thought [the pandemic] would be a nice opportunity to try out a few of the things I've wanted to try."
Straight away, this means you'll find a rotating cast of hazy (that's an unfiltered and slightly juicier beer, for the uninitiated) and West Coast IPA selections. The new jewel in Mallory's crown, however, might be the debut of his Berliner Weisse brew. German in origin, the sour beer is generally made with a singular fruit during the fermenting process. Mallory says his is more like a base, and that he's developed a number of fruit purees to sweeten the pot.
"We literally squirt a little into the glass when we pour, which means we can do more flavors, like blood orange or lime. And we've even made a woodruff syrup from an herb, and [that last one] is more the way they do it in Germany. Because we're only doing patio service right now, people can't watch us pour and serve it, but I'm sure people will be drinking in bars soon enough."
Should you wish to sample the beers yourself, Hidden Mountain carries on the Blue Corn tradition of to-go growlers. You can find Mallory's brews at the Draft Station downtown, too, which is also owned by Hidden Mountain parent company Santa Fe Dining. (60 E San Francisco St. ,983-6443). Either way, I'm pretty sure a citrusy blood orange Berliner Weisse would've been flawless alongside that excellent fish we took home
Meanwhile, in another part of town, baker Marti Mills is upping her cookie game like woah with her home-based business, XOnuevo. Mills pours her love for her home state of New Mexico into a wide array of baked treats made with ingredients like red chile, bergamot, cardamom, lavender and, of course, standbys like almond, chocolate, vanilla, etc. Did we mention you can get them in a number of different shapes—like freaking teddy bears?
"I wanted to find a way to share this love with my community during the isolation we've all be experiencing," Mills says. "When I was 5 years old, my grandmother taught me this recipe, and I became obsessed with baking as a result."
Mills would go on to complete culinary training at the Santa Fe Community College at the age of 13—something that required special permission from the school's dean. Additionally, she says, she's committed to sourcing ingredients locally.
"My absolute favorite at the moment is the lavender shortbread," she says. "The lavender is grown organically by my friend in Santa Fe."
At $15 for a baker's dozen (with the 13th cookie a mystery surprise), XOnuevo is perhaps a little pricier than a sleeve or two of Oreos, but we're talking quality here, buds. Plus, as cheesy as it sounds, Mills bakes with love, both for the food and for the city/state. Ask anyone in the know and they'll tell you love as ingredient is a very real thing. In your face, emotionless, mass-produced cookies!
Mills also does cakes and other baked goods, as well as custom orders. She also offers a club for frequent buyers and even contactless pickup.