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Not the least peculiar thing about Los Alamos has always been that, despite having far and away the highest household income levels in the state, the town has always suffered from a dearth of high-end or notable (or even just conspicuous) consumer opportunities.
There isn’t a lot of trophy housing, for example (very unlike Santa Fe). No bijoux boutiques, either, and not much in the way of exceptional hotels or restaurants.
Every so often, though, an eatery will open that offers more than just something to fill the stomach. Miraculously, some of these continue to survive. The latest on the roster is the Pig and Fig, a bakery and cafe that recently opened in The Hill’s ‘burb of White Rock.
For now, it features breakfast and lunch, along with the occasional special dinner event. A recent reconnaissance mission for lunch suggests there is much to look forward to as the Pig and Fig gains notice.
My guest, celebrating a recent decision to quit her day job with a leisurely lunch, opted for the hot pig and fig sandwich ($8.50) accompanied by a cup of the soup du jour (fruit, salad or chips are other side options).
The sandwich was generous, with lots of thin-sliced ham nestled in melted brie. A dollop of fig jam adorned the top. There was enough of the sandwich to share, too.
The soup was the star of this show, however: a thick tomato puree laden with fresh basil and topped with lots of parmesan cheese shavings. We asked for two spoons and demolished the entire serving.
LOCATION: 35 Rover Blvd., White Rock
HOURS: Open Mon.-Sat. 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
FOOD: Pastries and deli-style sandwiches, soups and salads. No alcohol
ATMOSPHERE: Neighborhood cafe
SERVICE: Order at the counter
My flank steak salad ($8.50) was equally nice. Spring greens arrived topped with warm, sliced flank steak, just barely pink in the center.
The only misstep as far as I was concerned was the dressing, a parsley pesto that lacked sufficient zing for me. I asked for an extra little cup of the house dressing, made with balsamic vinegar, and tossed it in with the pesto. Problem solved!
Along with the greens and tomatoes came a generous helping of the day’s roasted vegetables (corn and zucchini, in this case) that added extra heft to the meal.
The veggies were also featured on that day’s special, a pair of crisp tostadas also laden with cabbage slaw, and garnished with guacamole and a sprinkle of mild white cheese.
Judging by the choices carried to tables around us, the tostada was a favorite. The Pig and Fig’s quiche was obviously a favorite, too. The daily selections run the gamut from the “triple pig,” with ham, bacon and sausage, to a more sober spinach and Swiss cheese, and they’re available for breakfast. Pig and Fig’s quiches are made as little individual pot pies and priced at what is, by Santa Fe standards, a measly $4.50.
The green chile stew ($6.50 for a bowl) was equally popular. And we noted that we could have gotten the flank steak salad as a wrap from the sandwich menu. More exotic lunch offerings included a wild mushroom ravioli with pesto cream or penne primavera with chicken ($10 each).
There is no point in going to an upscale bakery without sampling the pastries, so we did. Lemon tart was one of the specials the day we dined, as was a chocolate and salted caramel cake ($4 each, again a bargain). The tart was the classic: puckeringly lemony in flavor, with a feather-light crust and a simple garnish of whipped cream with a twist of peel. We ate it all.
The cake, served as a generously sized cupcake, was satisfyingly bittersweet in flavor and prettily decorated with a dark-and-white chocolate twirl. The salted caramel was there, too – hidden in the bottom of the paper muffin cup. Buttery rich as it was, we thought the chocolate intensity nonetheless smothered such a treasure.
The Pig and Fig has a beer and wine license application pending. Meanwhile, we can recommend the strawberry lemonade ($2), made with pureed strawberries. Tart and slightly thickened from the crushed fruit, it was unusual and perfect on that very warm spring day.
The Pig and Fig was just filling up as we arrived shortly after 11:30 on a weekday morning. Soon it was jam-packed, and both the kitchen and the waitstaff were slammed getting food on the table and handling the order-at-the-counter crush of customers.
They kept it together, though, and, by 1:30 p.m., we nearly had the place to ourselves. All the better to enjoy those pastries.
Since it opened, the Pig and Fig also has been hosting reservation-only dinners, each around a different theme with appropriate wine and beer selections. These are evidently wildly popular, as they have sold out repeatedly.
Upcoming in April is a “Wild About Honey” wine dinner, as well as a food and beer pairing later in the month. We hope that the success of these special events – and the arrival of a beer and wine license – will lead to more general dinner opportunities in the future.
Meanwhile, if you’re bound for Bandelier or the Valles Caldera (or up The Hill for some other reason), add the Pig and Fig to your list of places worth stopping for.