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Romantic mix: Valentine’s dinner pairs wines, champagne with ‘elevated’ food

Vintage 423 has created romantic pairing suggestions that include wine and champagne to complement unparalleled food features and splendid desserts.

Vintage 423 was voted “Best Romantic Restaurant” in Albuquerque the Magazine’s Best of the City Awards readers’ poll.

“The theme goes along with what we are doing in a fine-dining way,” general manager Chris Vasilion said. “At the end of the day, (Executive Chef J. Martin Torrez) is doing an awesome menu … . Everyone will have a wonderful night. We live up to our reputation for ‘Most Romantic Restaurant.’ … The food is elevated. The food will match the ambiance of the restaurant.”

Mixologist Leslie Kiefer has created a couples cocktail for $20. The “sweetheart shake” will feature one made with strawberry puree, raspberry sorbet, and Crown Royal Vanilla with Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur. The other will feature chocolate bitters topped with a chocolate shaving and a Luxardo cherry. For those who prefer champagne or sparkling wine, she suggests starting the evening with G.H. Mumm Brut Cordon Rouge, Gruet Brut or Gruet Rosé to accompany the baby greens salad made of Asian pear, red chile roasted pecans, baby beets, manchego crumble with sour apple vinaigrette. She also recommends the Gruet Brut to pair with the Miso Honey Glazed Chilean Sea Bass with housemade gnocchi, shaved asparagus and arugula salad, and avocado crema. The sea bass is a favorite among Vintage patrons. The addition of miso and honey makes it both salty and sweet. The housemade gnocchi is like a potato pasta, which blends well with the shaved asparagus and arugula salad and the added creaminess of the avocado crema, according to Torrez.

If you’re looking for something a little on the “bold side” Kiefer suggests a couple of rich cabernets: Smith and Hook Cabernet Sauvignon or Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon for the housemade 6-hour braised beef short rib tortellini or the Aspen Ridge filet mignon with smoked gouda tater tots, fried Brussels sprouts and a cognac demi-glace.

Kiefer also proposes one of the cabernets with the s’mores cheesecake or flourless chocolate torte created by sous chef Chris “Nudos” Carrillo.

“It takes you back to your childhood,” Torrez said of the s’mores cheesecake. “We’re taking a childhood favorite and elevating it. You have to come in and see the fiery surprise.”

Other features on the Valentine’s menu include the 24-ounce bone-in rib-eye, which Torrez refers to as “the star of the menu.” Balsamic herb-roasted rack of lamb, sesame-crusted ahi tuna, and free-range chicken chop are other options.

Vintage 423 is focusing on its pasta program. Guests can get a taste of it with the housemade black truffle infused fettuccine with concasse roma tomatoes, sweet peas, chopped asparagus, charred lemon beurre blanc and shaved grana padano.

“We’re making all of our pasta in-house,” Torrez said. “We want to elevate the cuisine here at Vintage. It is a great addition having housemade pastas on our menu. … We’re even making fresh pasta for the mac and cheese. The mac and cheese is on our new lunch and dinner menus. We’re shooting for mid-February (to launch the new menus.)”