When someone mentions they’re traveling to Taos and are wanting a taste of northern New Mexican cuisine … something different, a unique setting … and especially if they’re celebrating a special occasion … I tell them about The Love Apple. (La Pomme d’Amour, which means tomato in French.) It was explained to me that the name is ‘an adage to food before big agriculture when food was pure, home cooked, full of heart, and nourishing.’
During this last extended ‘siesta’ I took time off to gather my ideas, organize my office and all of the little pieces of paper (bazillions) with recipes written on them. We spent time with family, and also managed to squeeze in a trip to Taos. For us, when we want to be decadent and romantic and stay up all night we go to New Orleans. When we want to be grounded and romantic and spiritual we go to Taos. Of course, both scenarios involve schedules prioritized around where and what to eat. And Taos … for such a little village, the food is marvelous.
The Love Apple was originally an adobe church built in the early 19th century called Placitas Chapel. Through the years it housed a framer’s shop, artist studio, a pre-school, drum and moccasin shop.
Today it’s a remarkably unique dining experience… a combination of regional organic home cooking and fine dining. A place where they invite you to “Enjoy our local bounty” and “Be comfortable while you are surrounded by beauty.”
Above photo is the outdoor dining area, within high adobe walls that keep it cozy and quiet from street noise. To enter the restaurant you open the door (not pictured, to the right) leading to a charming little foyer that passes by the open kitchen …
… through another small corridor leading to these dramatic curtains where you make an entrance into …
… the main dining area. With viga ceiling beams, thick adobe walls, and many layers of worn paint on the original floors.
We arrived early before the dinner rush, so as not to be snapping photos in such an intimate space where guests tend to talk more whispery.
After photographing the interior (it’s impossible to take a bad picture there) we decided to share dishes for a light early supper, and were seated near the round table in the raised chapel altar area. A skylight provided soft light, along with dozens and dozens of candles, and vintage chandeliers.
Menu designed by Executive Chef Andrea Meyer.
Our starter, a vegetarian Three Mushroom Pate that had a meaty quality … like an earthy pumpernickel pudding. Rich but not mushy, with a little sweet tang of strawberry, salty bits of Parmigiano Reggiano, and truffle oil bruschetta.
French Lentil Soup with Porcini Mushrooms and Carrots. A hearty, deep French onion-like soup broth with fresh tomato … tasted like it had been lovingly simmered for days.
Around this time, all of the tables were filled with guests. The sun began to set and the light outside turned dusky blue as the room began to glow with warm candlelight. If you happen to be there at this time with your sweetheart, it’s one of those “Todos mis mananas para ti” moments. (All of my tomorrows belong to you.) I also call it ‘movie star lighting’ … soft, flickering, everyone sparkles.
Beet, Avocado and Southwest Ruby Grapefruit Salad. Crisp julienne of citrus vinaigrette beets with fresh mint. Creamy avocado and tangy-sweet grapefruit. Balanced, fresh, delicious.
On past visits I’ve always gone with my favorite sure thing go-to entree … Chicken Confit Tacos. I know they will always satisfy. But our wise and considerate server, Skylar, urged us to try Sous Chef Jenni’s special … Seared Duck Breast with Sweet Corn Asadero Cheese Tamale.
When it arrived, our skylight had finally dimmed. We carried the plate to the outdoor patio for this photo, hoping this would not alarm Jenni who goes to great lengths in timing each dish so that it arrives to you hot, composed, with perfect dollops and finesse. It was a chilly evening and had been raining most of the day, so we hurried to snap away before everything got cold.
Back inside … the duck was still warm and perfectly seared … so very tender. With a dark red mesquite chile sauce. And that splash to the right … that is the perfect zest of cilantro lime puree. Perfect bite: duck, the cheese tamale filling, sauces, and a bit of spinach with creme fraiche. Is your mouth watering? Mine is!
Thank you for the tip, Skylar …
… who also sensed my fondness for the confit tacos and asked for a small tasting of one taco for us. (The dinner is three to a plate.) There’s a lot going on here … lime creme fraiche, crunch of pepitas, surprise of cabbage orange slaw and green chile cream, with the savory chicken. All on a homemade soft tortilla, and side of green chile coconut and cream corn. As ever, it made me want to burst into ‘Ave Maria.’
We’ve spent many special occasions here. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. And look forward to many more. There is a wonderful purity to each dish, with ingredients from local farms, ranches, mills, orchards, beekeepers. Everything is made from scratch, with love.
I took this photo from the car window as we drove away. Misty rain, growing darker, but our beautiful dinner kept us as warm as those candles for the rest of the evening.
I’d Order That … again.
P.S Many thanks to Genevieve, manager and gracious hostess … and fact checker.
The Love Apple
Taos, New Mexico
Reservations highly recommended. They do take walk-ins when they can accommodate.
Cash and check only.