Date January 14, 2008 at 11:00 PM
Having started my second decade living in this city I am used to considering myself a Santa Fean - a local, if you will. After my dining experience at The Palace Restaurant I am reminded of the canyon like gulf that separates local from native but am heartened to report that going to that overlook to see the scenery provided my companions and me with a wonderful and memorable evening.
That is what dinner was for us at The Palace on the Friday of Indian Market this August.
I had heard the restaurant was old fashioned and in a delightful sense it is. The Palace first opened its doors in the early 19th century and echoes with the murmurs of 7 or 8 generations of contented diners.
Our first impression of the establishment was top-flight. Upon arrival at 7:55 for eight o'clock reservations, we were greeted warmly and seated immediately. This on what is surely one of the plaza's busiest nights of the year and an evening where the restaurant certainly was. If that type of reception is old fashioned then give me more!
The interior is white linen, red velvet, dark wood and old west. We asked for and received water promptly. Dinner began with ceaser salad for three prepared tableside. This admittedly 'old-school' work up of a classic was phenomenal. (Remember there is a whole flock of gen-Xers whose boomer parents thought such affectations in dinning to bourgeoisie to subject junior to.) The ceaser dressing was prepared before our eyes with flair and quite showmanship, extra anchovies were procured for us effortlessly, the right hint of garlic and Romaine crisp, fresh, and cool. This was a fun salad.
Dinner offerings are the time tested winners. Described by the restaurant as classic continental and Italian the menu offers prime rib, steaks, seafood and pasta. I had the prime rib, rare, gigantic and really good. My wife had crayfish linguine a bountiful portion with plenty of seafood. Another companion had one of the day's specials, beef tenderloin, also rare and prepared with melt in your mouth perfection. After all this we were to full for desert.
As the edge of our hunger was dissipating we began to look around the room and notice that many of the patrons surrounding us had been meeting at The Palace for dinner on the first night of Indian Market for years. This included flamboyantly dressed artists, suit and tied descendants of the old world, Native Americans, the lady with vibrant pink hair and three thirty something 'locals,' soaking up the views and having a lip-smacking great time.