Local Food – Dining The Compound

Alexander Girard Architect The Compound Restaurant Santa Fe

Ted Turner wasn’t wrangling ponies on his ranch, Tom Ford had jetted off to New York to receive the CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award, the town was bereft of luminous locals. Stop and think what to do when The Boys Are Out of Town. There are any number of scenarios that arise, the most logical solution was to spend a slothful Saturday afternoon at a classic Santa Fe dining spot. Southwest regional influences amid elegant surroundings at The Compound Restaurant, heritage rich and authentically housed in a cozy adobe.

Recognized by Gourmet Magazine’s Guide to America’s Best Restaurants and The New York Times as a destination not to be missed. Chef Mark Kiffin’s authentic regional ingredients brought to the Southwest United States by the Spaniards are enhanced by contemporary seasonal ingredients. The Compound Restaurant pairs sophisticated cuisine with professional service in an elegant adobe building designed by famed architect Alexander Girard. Before its incarnation as a restaurant, this adobe home was the centerpiece of a group of houses on Canyon Road known as the McComb Compound. The whitewashed interiors boast an enticing mix of simple elegance and bursts of bright modernistic color. Make sure to look overhead, where whitewashed vigas balance out vibrant Navajo ceiling tiles, and a snake discreetly traverses one of the interior room’s ceilings.

The Compound Restaurant is the perfect location for a Proper Saturday Lunch – when you are in the mood for relaxation and high style, crisp white linens and first-class service. Think lazy Saturday when an optional afternoon siesta is penciled in your diary. A little decadence is always necessary to survive our busy lives, mosey up Canyon Road when you are longing for a chilled glass of Champers or a martini, neat! My dear local friends introduce me to newer more notable restaurants every time I visit. Who knew Santa Fe was a mecca for such grand dining?

The seasonally changing menu has a few signature dishes: Lobster & Mango Salad, Sweet Bread & Foie Gras and Chicken Schnitzel that are always offered. The restaurant, opened in the late 60s, is now run by Executive Chef Mark Kiffen, winner of the James Beard Award for Best Chef of the Southwest in 2005. The interior, designed by noted mid-century designer Alexander Girard, is notable for its bar, a conversation pit; patrons are at eye-level with the bartender. You can lunch there or in one of the whitewashed airy light filled dining rooms. In warmer weather opt for one of the breezy outdoor patios with their distinctive Old World feel.

Wild Mushrooms and Organic Stone Ground Polenta The Compound Restaurant Santa Fe..clearly nap inducing lunch!

The stylish and intimate Compound Restaurant on Santa Fe’s Canyon Road attracts devoted locals and out of town visitors with an elegant Southwestern-meets-Mediterranean fine dining menu. In the earlier part of the 20th century, when Santa Fe was far away from the rest of the world, movie stars, industrialists, and socialites visited, where they enjoy a secluded getaway. Eventually, Will and Barbara Houghton acquired the main house and converted it into a restaurant. It was their decision to bring in designer Alexander Girard, who gave The Compound Restaurant its distinctive look. Girard is best remembered locally for The Compound Restaurant design and his generous donation of more than 106,000 pieces to Santa Fe’s International Folk-Art Museum.

Spring Pea Soup The Compound Restaurant Santa Fe

The Compound Restaurant has received many local and national accolades. Chef/Owner Mark Kiffin, has embraced the restaurant’s history and continues to preserve a landmark tradition of elegant food and service, while celebrating in an invigorating art filled atmosphere


Spring Pea Soup

Pea Bavarois, Morel Duxelle & Spring Vegetables

Sweetbreads & Foie Gras

Cėpes, Cayenne and Spanish Sherry

Butter Lettuce & Tomato Salad Champagne Vinaigrette

House Made Papardelle Pasta

House Made Fennel Sausage with Tomato, Garlic & Sweet Herbs, Crispy Broccolini

Seared Sea Scallop

Vegetable Stew, Cream, French Butter & Crispy Pancetta

Main Course

Jumbo Crab and Lobster Salad

Mango, Red Onion & Butter Lettuce with Tangerine Vinaigrette

Stacked Salad

Romaine, Tomato, Ham, Blue Cheese and Hard Cooked Taos Eggs, Avocado Ranch Dressing

With Buttermilk Roasted Breast of Free Range Chicken

Compound Pastrami Sandwich

Our Own Cured, Roasted and Smoked Pastrami, Corn Rye Bread, Beer Braised Sweet Onions, Horseradish Mustard Mayonnaise, Cabbage Slaw, Chips

The Compound Burger

Lone Mountain Ranch Waygu Beef

Avocado, Tomato, Griddled Bulb Onions and Aioli with French Fries

Available with Roasted Poblanos and White Cheddar Cheese

Chicken Schnitzel

Capers, Parsley, Lemon and Sautéed Spinach

Organic Scottish Salmon

Spring Vegetables, Saffron Butter Sauce

Seared Rare Tuna Nicoise

Tomato, Nicoise & Pichiline Olives, Hard-Cooked Egg, Fingerling Potatoes, Red Onions, Green Beans & Dijon Shallot Dressing

Wild Mushrooms and Organic Stone Ground Polenta

Shaved Parmesan & Arugula

Beef Tenderloin Stroganoff

Organic Taos Mushrooms & Buttered Pappardelle Pasta, Creme Fraiche & Dijon Demi Glace

House Made Pappardelle Pasta

House Made Fennel Sausage with Tomato, Garlic & Sweet Herbs, Crispy Broccolini

Something for every mood! Highly recommend The Compound Restaurant , Santa Fe.

.653 Canyon Rd Santa Fe, NM 

The Museum of International Folk Art Santa Fe

The Museum of International Folk Art Santa Fe New Mexico

Just ONE of many interesting museums, every time I visit Santa Fe, my dear friends introduce me to yet another amazing museum. The Museum of International Folk Art not only contains an eclectic collection of folk art, the landscape and buildings are also world class. Nosh at the café with vistas to die for – and you will enjoy a delightful inspiring afternoon, the gift shop is also a treasure trove.

From the Museum website: there are many different ways to think about folk art. In fact, there is no one definition of folk art. In collecting and displaying folk art, the museum considers various concepts.

Generally, folk art is ART that:

  • May be decorative or utilitarian
  • May be used every day or reserved for high ceremonies
  • Is handmade; it may include handmade elements, as well as new, synthetic, or recycled components
  • May be made for use within a community of practice or it may be produced for sale as a form of income and empowerment
  • May be learned formally or informally; folk art may also be self-taught
  • May include intangible forms of expressive culture like dance, song, poetry, and foodways
  • Is traditional; it reflects shared cultural aesthetics and social issues. It is recognized that, as traditions are dynamic, traditional folk art may change over time and may include innovations in tradition.
  • Is of, by, and for the people; all people, inclusive of class, status, culture, community, ethnicity, gender, and religion

There were two exhibits at the museum which resonated with me: Beadwork Adorns the World Extraordinary how a small glass bead from the island of Murano (Venice, Italy) or the mountains of Bohemia (Czech Republic) can travel around the world, entering into the cultural life of people far distant.

Glass beads are the ultimate migrants.  Where they start out is seldom where they end up.  No matter where they originate, the locale that uses them makes them into something specific to their own world view.

This exhibition is about what happens to these beads when they arrive at their final destination, whether it be the African continent (Botswana, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa), to Borneo, to Burma, to India, Native North America to Latin America (Mexico, Bolivia to Ecuador).  However, this exhibit is not actually about beads, rather it is about the working beads resulting in Beadwork, and what a collective of beads in a garment or an object reveals about the intentions of its makers or users.

I have a massive collection of African beaded jewelry, elaborate beaded hats, and beaded wall hangings. Our fabulous safari expeditions always include a visit to a local Maasai village where the women excel in this craft.

The second exhibit in the Girard Wing opened in 1982, a long-term exhibition Multiple Visions: A Common Bond, an awe-inspiring display of approximately 10,000 pieces of folk art, toys, miniatures, textiles, and more from the Alexander and Susan Girard Collection. More than a million visitors have delighted in this exhibition, which represents just 10% of the Girard’s immense collection. This unorthodox exhibition was designed by Alexander Girard, a renowned designer who worked for Herman Miller and collaborated with many other renowned designers. It features objects displayed within vignettes of Girard’s invention or installed at various heights, including hanging from the ceiling. Girard insisted upon a pure visual experience, rejecting the use of object labels, using bold areas of painted color to delineate different sections of the exhibition, and often juxtaposing objects from very different cultures. Multiple Visions has been a perennial favorite of visitors for more than 30 years. The Girard Collection reflects a lifetime of travel and a love of objects. They began collecting on their honeymoon to Mexico in 1939, selecting objects for their beauty, humor, whimsy, and directness. Visitors to the Girard Wing are greeted by the Italian proverb “Tutto il mondo e paese” (The whole world is hometown), a saying Alexander Girard liked to quote, and which was a guiding principle of his and his wife’s collecting of folk art.

Alexander Girard (1907–1993) was one of the most influential textile artists and interior designers of the twentieth century and a collector extraordinaire. His worked with Herman Miller, collaborated with Charles & Ray Eames and George Nelson. For a period of time, he lived in Santa Fe and the museum greatly benefitted from his keen eye and astute flair for artfully coordinating interiors down to the smallest details. He was inspired by his colorful folk art collected throughout Mexico, India, Egypt and other international destinations. Girard donated a legacy collection of over 100,000 pieces of folk art to the Museum methodically arranged folk art scenes, depicting human experiences typical and atypical alike. Mesmerizing and full, each vignette contains either a small collection of related objects or massive glass display boxes displaying hundreds of like objects – each tells a story – vibrant and vivid stories which also provide a background story of the interesting lives of these sophisticated collectors.

Come for the whimsy, color, texture and style, and stay for the story revealed in each display.

To neatly tie this up, my friends introduced me to yet another delightfully delicious restaurant in Santa Fe and coincidentally the interiors were designed by Alexander Girard. Local Dining at The Compound Restaurant, Santa Fe can be found amid my blog posts.

Santa Fe is a delightful long weekend escape all year long. Land of Enchantment.  The “Land of Enchantment” describes New Mexico’s scenic beauty and its rich history. This legend was placed on New Mexico license plates in 1941. This nickname became the official State Nickname of New Mexico on April 8, 1999.