Vicky's of Santa Fe pleases customers with fair prices
Special to The Desert Sun
October 25, 2001
BACKGROUND: This perennial favorite hasn't changed much since it opened in 1989. Keeping the menu simple at affordable prices has made this one of the longest-running restaurants in the desert.
RESTAURANT: A fine example of the adobe-architectural style, this freestanding restaurant with ample parking seems to be perpetually busy.
We arrived at 5:30 p.m. and had our pick of tables in the first of the three dining areas. We were within sight of the refrigerated showcase filled with salmon, lamb, filet mignons, rib-eyes, New York strip steaks and pork chops.
Off to the left were dozens of chickens neatly lined on skewers, slowly turning in the rotisserie.
The floor is composed of Mexican pavers. Southwestern-style wooden chairs and tables for two, four and six fill at a fast pace at the dinner hour.
Keeping with a casual ambiance, tables are covered not in white nappery, but simple place mats. The noise level increases as the evening progresses, so if you prefer a quiet evening, arrive early.
Upon entering, we passed through the bar which is one of the busiest venues in this part of town.
This is a favored rendezvous for meeting friends before dinner or after the theater.
MENU: Less says more on this one-page menu which eschews poetic descriptions of sophisticated combinations of sauces and side dishes. In other words, this pictorial menu can be understood by anyone who knows the difference between a silhouette of a rooster, shrimp, cow, sheep or fish.
Our server was prompt and efficient, yet accommodating. Glasses were filled, orders were taken, and we were served within 20 minutes. That doesn't include the first 15 minutes lingering over what we deemed the most divine onion flower in the desert.
This billowing creation of fried onion petals was the centerpiece of the table. One by one we reached for these perfectly-formed delicacies, dipping them ever so carefully in a Thousand Island dressing that my companion elevated a few notches by adding Tabasco sauce.
Side orders ($4.50) are generous and designed for sharing. We tried the baked potato, so immense it needed its own zip code. With dollops of sour cream and butter, it was a meal in itself.
The asparagus was cooked to its moment of perfection, the sautéed portobello mushroom, heightened by burgundy wine, was redolent with garlic butter, and the crisp and crunchy Saratoga chips were plentiful.
On the other hand, the lettuce wedge was overpowered by an oily dressing lacking charisma and flavor, a deadly duo. A far better choice for salad seekers is the tomato and onion salad, sporting seductive tomatoes braced with onions that cry out to be cut into bite-sized portions.
The potatoes au gratin were swimming in cheese and because of this, we lost the flavor path. But let's get to the heart of this dinner, the main courses.
The minimum charge is "one entrée per person." With this in mind we ordered the rotisserie chicken ($14), a specialty and predictably delicious. Plump and tender, this ample portion of chicken was about as good as chicken can get.
The Norwegian salmon ($18) was pretty as a picture, thick and moist yet tender. We tried the pork chops ($20) on a previous visit, but they paled in comparison to our entrées on this quiet evening.
We noticed a lovely filet mignon ($24) served at the next table, and knew, after observing the look of satisfaction on our neighbor's face, we would order this the next time we visit.
All of this was a prelude to one of the reasons we have been dining here for half a generation, the apple pie ($4.50). Previous attempts at homemade apple pies aside, this is "The One."
Spread out over the plate and gently warmed, and thankfully lightly crusted, it sings out with sliced apples. We asked for whipped cream and it was served on the side.
Save up your calories for this all-American dessert; it's a winner for those who seek the perfect apple pie.
We liked our bottle of chardonnay (Foxhollow Vineyard, 1998, $30) and found the wine list to be reasonably priced, with wine-by-the-glass poured as well.
FINAL THOUGHTS: A recipe for success: consistently good food at fair prices keeps the crowds coming through the door.
Source: Table for Two