315 Restaurant & Wine Bar a cozy space to spend a holiday meal - Albuquerque Journal

315 Restaurant & Wine Bar a cozy space to spend a holiday meal

Smoked salmon is served over a crispy latke topped with thinly sliced cucumbers and dill tossed in a light horseradish crème fraîche. (Heather Hunter/For the Journal)

There’s something joyful about cooking holiday meals. The planning, shopping, cooking and washing dishes. It’s all part of the extravagant culinary season when we make our favorite dishes. But it’s also exhausting. What if you don’t want to embark on a major shopping and cooking adventure?

For the second time in as many decades, we went out for Thanksgiving for all of the above reasons and made a reservation. It was a glorious, one-plate wonder that resulted in an easy and sublime Thanksgiving meal we may adopt as a new ritual.





While there are many options for dining out on a holiday in Santa Fe, we ventured to 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar. The menu was diverse, smart and well-priced at $85 per person for a three-course meal with three solid choices for each course. Located at 315 Old Santa Fe Trail, this classic French restaurant leans on locally-grown ingredients. Though they only serve dinner, 315 generously opened their doors at two o’clock to accommodate Thanksgiving guests who, like us, wanted to simplify the day of gratitude or were traveling.

The traditional turkey plate is served with chestnut stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy and poached cranberries. (Heather Hunter/For the Journal)

Restaurants that open on holidays are intentionally gracious as they know you have chosen to dine with them and they are grateful. Likewise, my husband and I were effusively grateful they offered a well-crafted menu that hit all the notes and a cozy space to celebrate the holiday. Situated in what feels like an old home, the restaurant has a variety of self-contained rooms so it feels like a private dining space.

Chef and owner Louis Moskow was present both in the restaurant and in the kitchen making sure every detail was tended to. For more than 25 years, Moskow has dedicated himself to making 315 shine. This is another example of a well-run and treasured chef-owned and operated Santa Fe restaurant.

To whet our appetite, they brought a basket of warm and crusty bread. Thick slices of bread with a holey interior and crisp exterior were unlike any I have ever had in town. When I inquired, I was told it was from Sage Bakehouse. (Note to self – the next time you want crusty bread, ask Sage for the bread they make for 315.) Served with a hearty pat of cold butter, this was a problem in that warm bread yearns for soft butter so it can easily be slathered. This, however, did not stop us.

The appetizer choices were as diverse as the customers dining. Three choices included smoked salmon over a crispy latke topped with thinly sliced cucumbers and dill tossed in a light horseradish crème fraîche; a crock of French onion soup with Comte cheese; or an arugula salad with raspberries, pistachio-crusted goat cheese balls and red wine vinaigrette.

The crème brûlée was all that with a thick layer of torched sugar that required a few taps of the spoon to crack open. (Heather Hunter/For the Journal)

So as not to miss out on anything, we shared the smoked salmon and arugula salad. The silky smoked salmon paired well with the crispy potato latke. The addition of the cucumber-dill salad made this option feel somewhat virtuous on this gluttonous holiday. But the real show stopper was a heaping plate of arugula. It was uber fresh, not too spicy and entirely virtuous. Three bite-sized goat cheese balls were encrusted with crushed pistachios to offer a touch of decadence and crunch. Not surprisingly, this was the appetizer most people in our dining room selected.

Though turkey is the star on Thanksgiving, the menu offered three entrée choices. The traditional turkey plate with chestnut stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy and poached cranberries; steak frites, a 10-ounce New York strip steak au poivre; or roasted sea bass with pureed squash, crispy leeks, fried sage and a walnut sage brandy cream sauce.

My husband did not veer from tradition and was impressed with the bountiful turkey dinner with all of his favorite sides. The plate included both white and dark meat, and savory Madeira chanterelle gravy. He was in heaven and raved about the chestnut stuffing all night. The cranberries were poached in orange juice, orange zest, port and red wine with cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, juniper, allspice and clove which lent a welcome holiday note.

Roasted sea bass was my choice and it was a perfect foil for those who don’t eat turkey or want something lighter. Placed next to a bed of pureed butternut squash, the succulent fish was topped with crispy leeks, a few fried sage leaves and apple compote which exuded Thanksgiving. A generous ladle of walnut sage brandy cream sauce played well with the squash and fish.

The service was soft and attentive and there was always a buzzy feeling of energy in the room as the staff displayed their sincere desire to be present and gift their guests with excellent service and hospitality.

After our entrees, we were given ample time to relax before diving into dessert. The sweet choices included pumpkin mousse with graham cracker crumbs and poached cherries; flourless chocolate cake with banana caramel whipped cream; and crème brûlée.

Though the flourless chocolate cake was a bit dry and crumbly, it was saved by the creative addition of banana caramel whipped cream. What is clearly a ubiquitous dessert in Santa Fe, the crème brûlée was all that with a thick layer of torched sugar that required a few taps of the spoon to crack open. We enjoyed our desserts with a mandatory cup of coffee after a big meal. And this was a cup of coffee we will remember. Not too heavily roasted and not too weak, it concluded our experience on a delightful note.

If you, too, are questioning the effort and expense of crafting an elaborate holiday meal for two or even four, don’t feel guilty about making a reservation. For the remaining holidays, 315 offers a special menu for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to delight you and your friends and family. My bet is you’ll be as smitten as we are with this new tradition. No planning, no shopping, no cooking, no dishes to wash and no leftovers make for a seriously simple and gratifying holiday celebration.

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