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Eclectic, fresh define latest eatery in EDo

A lifelong love of cooking prompted Sarah Hartford, pictured, to open her first restaurant, Hartford Square. This salmon-cream cheese-spinach fritatta was offered during opening week. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis-Journal)

A lifelong love of cooking prompted Sarah Hartford, pictured, to open her first restaurant, Hartford Square. This salmon-cream cheese-spinach fritatta was offered during opening week. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis-Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — If you visited Hartford Square last Tuesday, you would’ve seen a front case stocked with an eclectic, edible assortment that included a salmon-cream cheese-spinach fritatta, risotto with asparagus, savory bread pudding and mini cheesecakes.

Visit next Tuesday, though, and you’ll see something totally different.

At Sarah Hartford’s new EDo restaurant, the menu changes weekly. That’s to keep things fresh, both figuratively and literally.

“(The menu) will be seasonal,” Hartford said from a shaded patio table on the south side of her new place. “I’m doing a lot of local sourcing – local farmers, local producers.

“That’s something that’s really important to me.”

Hartford, whose background is in art education, is a rookie restaurateur but has long loved to cook. A mother of four who realized her job prospects in art education were limited, she finally decided to pursue a long-held restaurant dream. She spent the past year preparing by working at a local school-lunch company to learn her way around a commercial kitchen. She also crafted a plan modeled on restaurants she fell in love with while living previously in Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., and Vermont.

“It was a little bit of this, a little bit of that from places I really liked,” she said.

Hartford Square took over a previously unoccupied 1,200-square-foot space on the lower level of the BelVedere mixed-used development on Broadway NE.

The restaurant offers dining tables, plus counter seating that looks directly into the open kitchen. The interior design – all black, white and stainless steel – provides a clean canvas for the colorful food and gives the place an urban feel.

“This woman I don’t even know walked in and said ‘I feel like I’m in New York,’ and that just made my day,” Hartford said.

Customers can eat at the restaurant from 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and come in for takeout only through 6:30 p.m. Saturday hours are 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m., with takeout until 4 p.m.

“The basic idea is people could eat in here breakfast through late afternoon, and we’d also do these dinners for people to take home so they could pick them up on their way home,” Hartford said. “The idea is to have food that’s as good as food you’d like to be making at home but don’t have time to make.”

Hartford divides her menu into breakfast, lunch/dinner and sweets. She’ll change the lineup weekly but keep the same number in each category and try to keep the selection “thematic.”

A recent breakfast menu included an egg-and-ham sandwich on a herb-and-cheese biscuit ($6) and orange zest scones ($2.25 each).

The accompanying lunch/dinner menu featured steamed halibut wrapped in rainbow chard with ginger ($9.50), chicken marbella ($8.50), and an egg salad sandwich on sourdough ($8 for full-size).

Weekly menus are available online at hartfordsq.com.

Bruno Barachin and his wife Sabine have moved their French bistro, La Quiche, to the Mountain Run Shopping Center from Downtown. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis-Journal)

Bruno Barachin and his wife Sabine have moved their French bistro, La Quiche, to the Mountain Run Shopping Center from Downtown. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis-Journal)

Hartford Square is located at 300 Broadway NE. The phone number is 265-4933.

France revisited

A pair of French eateries have recently resumed operations, including one that said au revoir to Albuquerque back in 2008 and another that completed a cross-town move.

… Le Café Miche returns: Claus and Linda Hjortkjaer have revived Le Café Miche five years after closing the restaurant they ran at Wyoming and Constitution NE. Le Café Miche reopened Downtown last month, taking over the cozy corner at 228 Gold SW.

Claus Hjortkjaer said bankruptcy cost him Le Café Miche in 2008 – something he blamed in part on competition for diners that occurred with the development of ABQ Uptown – but that the restaurant stayed with him.

“I have an old love affair with Le Café Miche; it was my first restaurant ever and it broke my heart having to close it. It was always in the back of my mind,” he said of the place he and Linda operated from 1996-2008.

So when P’tit Louis Bistro closed its Gold Avenue location and the building became available, the Hjortkjaers decided to get back in the business, albeit on a smaller scale. The new venue seats 26 – less than a quarter of the old restaurant’s capacity.

The space has changed, but Hjortkjaer – a garrulous chef and a Culinary Institute of Denmark graduate – said the French country menu is mostly the same.

“I’m following the same recipes that I’ve done for years,” Hjortkjaer said, noting that former customers have been returning to order old favorites like his veal scallopini ($25) and chicken cordon bleu ($18 at dinner, $16 at lunch).

Menu selections also include boeuf bourguignon, duck confit salad, escargot and, for lunch, open-faced sandwiches like the “Paté du Chef” ($10).

Le Café Miche is open for lunch 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; dinner is 5-9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Reservations are accepted but not required. The phone number is 314-1111.

… La Quiche moves: While Le Café Miche has taken up residence in Downtown, La Quiche Parisienne Bistro has traded the area for the Northeast Heights.

Owners Bruno Barachin and his wife Sabine have moved La Quiche out of Downtown’s problem-plagued 4th Street Mall and into the Mountain Run Shopping Center. La Quiche is now located at 5850 Eubank NE, Suite 17, in a space formerly occupied by Glazed Hams & More.

The Paris natives cater to the breakfast and lunch crowds with omelets, soups, salads and sandwiches – like the popular turkey-based “Paris” ($8.99) and the hot roast beef-and-provolone “Frenchy” ($9.99). They also offer nine different quiches, including a blue cheese/roasted walnut version and a veggie option.

Shelves and display cases inside the 2,700-square-foot space show off the couple’s breads, tarts and other goodies, including the giant – and delectable – almond croissant ($2.99).

But Barachin said the move has prompted La Quiche to expand its menu into more restaurant-style fare, like the steak frites entrée ($15.99).

Barachin said La Quiche is trying to obtain a beer and wine license and do more dinner service in the future.

“That’s the next step,” he said.

At this point, La Quiche is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday; and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is 242-2808.

Other tidbits:

• The Chocolate Art Gallery has moved about a mile south from its original location. Proprietor Nancy Iris is now selling her art , handmade truffles and other sweet treats at 6902 4th NW, Suite B, in Los Ranchos. Iris says the new location offers more visibility, a better kitchen and superior gallery space for displaying her own work (paintings, sculpture and more) and pieces from a few other artists.

• As I reported recently on my blog, Anytime Fitness is moving from 7900 Carmel NE to 5809 Juan Tabo NE. The new location will take up most of the old Leishman Interiors space. Franchisee Steve Graves said the new gym should open by the end of July.

If you have retail news to share, contact me at jdyer@abqjournal.com or 823-3864. If you want more regular updates on Albuquerque’s shopping and dining scene, visit my blog at abqjournal.com

 

A lifelong love of cooking prompted Sarah Hartford, pictured, to open her first restaurant, Hartford Square. This salmon-cream cheese-spinach fritatta was offered during opening week.

A lifelong love of cooking prompted Sarah Hartford, pictured, to open her first restaurant, Hartford Square. This salmon-cream cheese-spinach fritatta was offered during opening week, but the menu will change every Monday.

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