Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
The Good Doctor called recently and announced that he was in the mid-summer mood for a martini, and a good steak and possibly a baked potato, and would I care to join him. Further, he’d noted an advertisement for a newish spot, Market Steer Steakhouse, open nearly a year in the Hotel St. Francis at Don Gaspar and Water.
Love the hotel’s light, open, pale stone lobby with fountain. It’s an elegant downtown one-stop spot for imbibing and dining with the estimable Gruet wine tasting room at one end, the popular Secreto Bar at the other, with outdoor seating on the portal and comestibles in association with the adjoining restaurant, which now and for the past year is Market Steer Steakhouse.
Pre-dinner drinks in Secreto, a margarita and not a martini, and a cerveza, were superb, and then next door to Market Steer Steakhouse.
If outdoor charm were a deciding factor in restaurant success, Market Steer will have no worries. The cozy courtyard with an ivy-covered wall, twice as high as Wrigley Field’s, dominates and offers a Jamesian (that would be Henry) mis-en-scène worthy of a garden in Florence or the south of France. (We did get the music – cool jazz – turned down a few decibels, thank you.)
As it is, Market Steer is exactly what the Doctor ordered, a no-nonsense, pretty straightforward steak and, well, steak restaurant, with a few twists.
Down to business: The Good Doctor started off with the Prime Steak Tartare ($19) with smoked peppercorn crème fraïche, cured egg yolk and beef fat crackers, which prompted a conversation. Some things are perfect in their simplicity and, because of their simplicity, any attempt to “improve” them, or present them with a variation or a wrinkle, is to disrupt the essence of the perfection. Simplicity. Such is the case with creations such as steak tartare. In this instance, doing it “sort of southwest style,” as the Doctor described it, with no visible egg yolk, for instance, (it must have been assimilated) is to unnecessarily “improve” the perfect in its traditional form.
And speaking of “assimilated,” while the Caesar Salad ($12) beckoned, I took a pass when informed that the key element, anchovies, were somehow assimilated into the dressing. No. I like to see those little suckers. The Wedge Salad ($13), crisp baby iceberg lettuce, with house-cured bacon, onions, cherry tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles and a smoky blue cheese dressing, is superb. And no variations attempted, perhaps just a bit more dressing, however. (Note: Creamy, chile butter served room temp. Nice touch. No tablecloth, but would be a nice touch.)
It was decided we would share a 14-ounce New York Strip ($45), medium rare, with a side of Truffle Fries ($14), sprinkled with a bit of cheese. The hand-cut fries are first-rate (I compare all french fries against the standard set by Les Arcs D’Or, aka McDonald’s). The strip steak was served ultra minimal, rather lonely looking, with half a head of roasted garlic. With one major complaint, the strip was perfectly medium rare, tender juicy, great flavor and texture. The Good Doctor’s complaint was that the steak had not been trimmed and one needed to trim the fascia or, at times, chew a bit more strenuously than one might desire.
All in all, the setting of Market Steer Steakhouse is memorable and the fare is worth getting to know. Also, there is currently a prix fixe, pre-Santa Fe Opera, three-course dinner offering with daily wine special for $60, available from 5-6:15 p.m.