Archive for Sandia Park

We’ve Got Some ‘Round The Back

by John Weckerle

Last Friday, we decided to give the Backside Alehouse in Sandia Park a try.  Located in the A-frame structure at the intersection of NM 14, Frost Road, and the road to Sandia Peak, the restaurant and pub represents the latest enterprise to occupy a space that has held a variety of restaurants and other businesses.

We entered the establishment and were promptly seated.  The decor was eclectic, with relatively warm colors, and seats were comfortable.  One of our party thought the music was just a bit loud, but two of us did not; with the predominance of hard surfaces, it seems likely that the sounds of conversation would fill the space if the music were not there, and the music was enjoyable enough not to get in the way of discourse at the table.  Your editor ordered the carrot-ginger soup (attempting to order a cup but, alas, it comes only in bowls) and shared it with the rest of the party because, quite frankly, that is one darned big bowl of soup.  It is also one darned good bowl of soup, and that may be understating the case substantially; the Backside’s carrot ginger soup is one of the best we’ve had.  Your editor ordered the cedar plank salmon, and the other diners ordered fish and chips, chicken tenders, and fries.

Let’s start with the cedar plank salmon.  It is not clear why the dish is so named – if somebody said “I’m making cedar plank salmon,” I wouldn’t expect what I got at the Backside.  While it may have been cedar-plank grilled, there was much more to it than that.  The salmon is prepared with a delightful glaze and served atop a bed of creamy polenta with a side of vegetables, in this case green beans that were perfectly done and nicely seasoned.  The name “cedar plank salmon,” and to some extent the description in the menu, just don’t do justice to the dish.

Those of us who have been eating fish and chips for a very long time have  a certain understanding of what fish and chips are supposed to be.  In this day and age, many establishments wrap their fish in a superfluity of batter, obscuring the taste (and perhaps the size) of the fillets.  Not the Backside Alehouse.  The batter was traditional and very tasty – thick enough to be an integral part of the dish but thin enough not to overwhelm the fish.  Neither was the batter greasy.

Your editor is not usually given to commenting on French fries, but these were worth mentioning: just the right blend of crispy outside, soft-but-not-mushy inside, and again, not greasy.  I did not partake of the chicken tenders, but they were very well received by those who did.

About the only suggestion we have to offer the Backside is this: offer the soup in a cup.  You might have actually sold us a dessert if the soup had been smaller.


Pete’s Mexican Cantina Shows Promise, But The Jury’s Still Out

by John Weckerle

This evening, the NM-Central staff (minus Chief Staying Home For Dinner Correspondent Wilson) took the evening off and went out for our evening meal.  Our first choice for the evening was going to be Sandia Crust Pizza, which serves a noteworthy eggplant rollatini, but after a neighbor asked us if Pete’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina – Home of the Halfbreed – had opened yet, we decided to take a peek and see if they had started operations.

Boy, had they.  Your editor dropped the rest of the party off at the door and ended up parking on the shoulder of North 14.  We were seated immediately, despite the fact that the parking lot was completely full.

The prospect of once again being able to have a margarita (or, for that matter, any mixed drink) before or with dinner was apparently a draw; there were a lot of people in the place, and a lot of margarita glasses on the tables.  Unfortunately, after waiting more than 10 minutes for our drink order, our waiter returned to tell us that they did not have the tequila we requested (the very popular Jose Cuervo 1800 Silver).  Now, there are those who will say that it doesn’t matter what kind of tequila one puts in a margarita.  Such people are not to be trusted, voted for or, for that matter, allowed to vote.  Or reproduce.  Under such circumstances, one expects the waiter to suggest another middle-shelf tequila.  He didn’t.  We got regular Cuervo Gold instead.  Strike one.

Chips and salsa were on the table before the drinks.  That is to say, some very tasty salsa and some whole chips on top of a bunch of smashed ones.  This is the sort of thing that does not go over well in other states, but in New Mexico, it’s nigh unto treason.  Strike two.

The menu at Pete’s contains a mix of regular favorites – New Mexican foods, steaks (Lucy says they need to add an 8-ounce steak; 12 ounces is too big for a lot of people), and so on – and other things we don’t see in some restaurants.  Shrimp Veracruz is one of the selections, and shrimp fajitas are another.  A green chile pasta dish was also featured, and that could be ordered with shrimp. Your editor was delighted to be able to get something with some protein that didn’t involve meat or poultry.  With great enthusiasm, I ordered the pasta with shrimp – and at almost exactly 5:45 in the afternoon, the waiter replied, “We’re out of shrimp.”

Strike three.

»» Pete’s Mexican Cantina Shows Promise, But The Jury’s Still Out

What Dreams May Come…

by John Weckerle

…To Sandia Park?

That question was answered recently with the announcement that the 2010 HGTV Dream Home will be built in one of the seven communities included in the  30,000 acre Campbell Ranch master planned community.  That’s right; the custom-designed Pueblo-style home – a 3,900 square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bath estate with “a home office, gourmet kitchen, home theater, and a guest casita” – will be built right hear in the East West Mountains. The 14th annual HGTV Dream Home, the network’s first in the southwest, will be  located in San Pedro Overlook, which, according to the network’s press release, is specifically designed for those who choose to work from home. According to the San Pedro Overlook web site, it is a gated community with three- to six-acre home sites and includes 625 acres of protected nature preserve, spectacular surroundings, and a number of amenities.

As quoted in the press release, HGTV’s Dream Home Planner, Jack Thomasson stated: “It’s a spectacular place and the house we’re building is going to be a responsible example of Southwestern living at its best.” »» What Dreams May Come…