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The upscale Restaurant Antiquity is great for a special occasion or that weeknight splurge

Zack Viramontes checks on filet mignon steaks over a bed of charcoal at Restaurant Antiquity in Old Town. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Zack Viramontes checks on filet mignon steaks over a bed of charcoal at Restaurant Antiquity in Old Town. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Major life events like anniversaries, big promotions at work or engagement announcements mandate a celebratory dinner out. Among Albuquerque’s destination shortlist will be Restaurant Antiquity in Old Town, the longtime go-to for such moments with a classic upscale menu meant for celebrating.

But what about those “everyday” nice dinners out? Often on those occasions the choice is a mid-level steak joint or upscale chain – with the likelihood of spending nearly as much per person and enduring lots of noise, all without the refined service and atmosphere offered up by Antiquity every night of the week.

The booths define Antiquity’s charm: plenty of room enough for two with discreet dividers that allow your waitstaff (our evening’s server had a slight resemblance to some long-lost brother of Kevin Spacey) to keep track of any needs without spillover chatter from other parties in the restaurant.

Nosh on warm poppyseed bread and butter while pondering starters; a favorite is the Beef Carpaccio ($13.95), mild and tender with big Parmesan shavings. Lately I have also been a fan of the decadent Escargot ($11.95), easy for snail beginners because they are served not in their shells but stuffed into mushroom caps with garlicky butter sauce. Wonderful!

Upgrade your entree salad to the special Fruit & Nut Salad ($7.95 surcharge) – the candied nuts, sliced fruit, and bacon crumbles are nice even if not quite on par with the extra cost. And oh, those entrees: the Henry IV steak and artichoke combo ($33.95) is still king of the menu, plump and meaty artichoke leaves underneath the filet with the choke’s heart doused in buttery béarnaise sauce on top. It’s truly over the top with the potatoes au gratin on the side, all cheesy unctuousness.

My companion and I were not as wowed by the daily fish special, however. I appreciate a good fish entree and recognize that quality fish is the most expensive of meats, don’t get me wrong.

So when the Red Snapper ($36.95) was both dainty and mildly seasoned despite the toasted coconut breading and “spicy” cream sauce, we were disappointed. It could be a great entree with just a little work.

Leaving on a better note involved a bit of sugar, which we had no problem accepting. Antiquity’s classic French Chocolate Mousse ($7.25) was light and mild without fanfare, while I craved a little character.

That left the Polyezenta ($7.25), a chocolate-drizzled crepe stuffed with ground walnuts and cinnamon cream. Our ever-attentive server dropped off the check and gave a smile, remarking on the popularity of that most unusual crepe. We agreed, and stepped out into the rainy night warm and a little bit like the crepe: stuffed.

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