Jennifer James 101 – Albuquerque

Jennifer James 101 – Albuquerque

So my job sends me away to do site installations every so often and it takes me around the country to places I would have never stopped on my own… because vacations are expensive. While on these trips I am given a set amount of money to eat with… as long as these meals are “free” I make it a point to enjoy some really good local cuisine based on things I’ve heard or seen on the internet, TV, and word of mouth.

This last trip took me through Albuquerque on my way to Clovis, NM. If you get the chance to go to Clovis… skip it, I had a few meals there, and one of them made me sick for the rest of the weekend. If you are from Clovis and you know of somewhere that can prove me wrong, please tell me, I have to go back again. The week of travel was non-stop and I really only spent about four waking hours in the city of Albuquerque. If you have four hours in Albuquerque, I highly recommend spending at least one of them at Jennifer James 101.

Jennifer James 101

Definitely can't miss that now can ya?

Not difficult to find on Menaul Boulevard, the small restaurant welcomes you into a comfortable atmosphere that mixes fine dining with the comfort of your own kitchen… assuming your kitchen houses a current nominee for a James Beard Award.

The restaurant and kitchen seem to blend unnoticeably into each other with only short walls between them. The kitchen in this restaurant is the cleanest kitchen I have ever seen, the place was spotless. And I must say the service was great…  it being a Thursday night, just before close, I ended up being the last guest there. I was able to mingle in the kitchen, asking questions, taking pictures, talking food, and reading FoodGeekery with the staff while my dinner was being prepared.

Jennifer James

The dining room

Jennifer James

View into kitchen

Jennifer James

Jennifer James

Jennifer James

A sudden cameo!

They have a rotating small menu concept with a first course appetizer and a second main course. The responsibility of making a new fresh menu is rotated amongst the staff which includes a teacher of the culinary arts, and a food writer, who was responsible for my dish that night. Local fresh vegetables are used throughout the menu, while fish is flown overnight to the restaurant from the Pacific NW. Being a small place, there is little storage place for large amounts of food… a guarantee of freshness.

The start of your meal there begins with a grandmother’s pickled cucumber recipe. First, don’t think of your average sour dill pickle. These were sweet and delicious, a great start while you talk at the table and wait for your meal. Marinated in a sweet onion sauce, these cucumbers had just enough crunch along with the onions to produce a taste that I literally ate throughout the entire meal.

Being a fan, and a sucker for crab cakes, I started with the dungeness crab cake on top of a grainy mustardioli with a fine herbes salad.  It is honestly one of the best crab cakes I have ever eaten. They were crispy on the outside with fresh lump crab and not full of filler. Seasoned just perfectly, the pan fried cake was complemented with a mustardioli that gave the crab a sharp delicious accent. Fully satisfied with those two components of the dish, I added the herbs to the next bite. The greens really balanced the sharpness of the mustardioli and made each bite better than the last.

Mmm... pickles!

Grandma sure knew her pickles.

Doesn't make me crabby!

This crab cake doesn't make me crabby!

My main dish was a sautéed sea bass on top of a parsnip puree, tatsoi & daikon, with a gingered carrot nage. The color of the greens on top of the puree was vibrant against the background of the bright orange nage. After a discussion about the amount of lime that should be squeezed on top of the dish, it was determined that a quarter lime was just enough to make the sea bass pop without disturbing the mellowness of the parsnip puree. Each ingredient was fresh and delicious. I had never had tatsoi, it was similar, or potentially a type of bok choy. The fish was crispy on the outside and cooked perfectly through the inside. Each component was great on its own, but got better as I started making different combinations with each bite. The nage was just sweet enough to take the parsnip puree to the next level.

Sautéed sea bass

Sautéed sea bass w/ parsnip puree, tatsoi & daikon, and a gingered carrot nage

The serving size was a bit large; I only wish I had the stomach to eat it all… I was notified that there was red velvet cake on the premises. The dessert was again a family recipe and had to be taken to go. It was quickly consumed in front of the TV in my hotel room later than night; the cake was moist and the frosting was not too sweet.

One cake to go!

One slice of awesome to go, please.

Recapping this experience, I must say this is one of the best meals I have ever had. It is very apparent why she is up for the James Beard Award. The food is fresh, beautiful, and delicious. Simply put, go there. Take a friend, bring your appetite, and also say hi to Jennifer for me!

Ed. Note: This is the first post by our newest contributor, Jonathan!  Please wish him well and look forward to future reviews as he gets sent to random cities around the country!


Possibly Related Posts
Down on the farm
Down on the farm
Last week I knew I had a three day weekend coming up and I didn’t exactly know what to...
Think outside the drum
Think outside the drum
As anyone who has turned on a TV in the past month knows, there is a massive plume of oil spewing...
Yo, Gurt, make your own!
Yo, Gurt, make your own!
So, a few of you may have read my previous post about yogurt where I said that I would attempt...
Remembering Omaha
Remembering Omaha
Originally this was supposed to be my last post before leaving Omaha.  Unfortunately due to...
Let’s get moving!
Let’s get moving!
I’m sure more than a few of you have noticed a slight slowdown in the number of updates...


No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.