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Behind the Scenes: Selecting New Menu Items for La Plazuela

Local Heirloom Tomato Salad

Local Heirloom Tomato Salad

We add new menu items twice a year to our La Plazuela menu.  To you, our guests, the new items just appear on the menu in the spring and then again, in the fall.  But what does it take for those new items to actually make it on the menu?

I thought it might be fun to give you a “taste” of what a new dish goes through before it lands in front of you for lunch or dinner.

Our Executive Chef Lane Warner is the mind behind the menu creations. He’s always dreaming up something new and different. But, he receives plenty of requests, suggestions, and input from all sides, which he must juggle and figure out how to fit into our vision.

Once Chef’s happy with a list of new ideas, it’s time for his culinary team to cook them up and serve them to a panel of internal La Fonda food critics (and sometimes a lucky foodie guest of mine!).

The first tasting is an all-afternoon affair. We start with possible new appetizers, work our way through a new soup or gazpacho, fill our forks with three potential new salads and then it’s on to the entrees.  Even though each of us are taking just one bite or maybe two bites, it’s still a lot to take in. We try beef and lamb and pork and trout and  salmon and opah and chicken and cashew cake…  I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

For each dish, we discuss how it compares to selections we already have on the menu; what current dishes are extremely popular; whether a particular dish needs sauce or would be better without; how it looks on the plate; how it tastes; the importance of using local produce and whether or not a particular local supplier will be able to fill our needs.  We serve up to 800 meals per day in the summer so it’s important to consider the role of our sources in providing enough of the ingredients we might need on any given day.  If we are going to have an heirloom tomato salad on the menu…  will we have access to enough local heirloom tomatoes – especially if the dish becomes an extremely popular choice?

Did I happen to mention that we taste-tested ten different new French fry selections and a dozen gelato flavors?  It’s true.  We’re pretty excited about our new gelato.  But I digress…

Once that first taste test is over, Chef Warner reviews our notes and suggestions. He then takes the list of favorites that we’ve narrowed down, makes them again and we repeat the tasting. Final notes are prepared, Chef and his culinary team make final refinements and -Voila! New items appear on the menu at La Plazuela.

Our new spring/summer menu made it’s debut yesterday.  Let me know what you think of the new selections!

7 Responses to “Behind the Scenes: Selecting New Menu Items for La Plazuela”

  1. Andy Ritch

    Oh, my! Oh, my! More choices. Another few pounds eally doesn’t bother me, I can lose it in the garden, if I do not eat the produce!!.
    I had no idea the process was so inviting. One or two bites would immediately disqualify me from the tasting. Afterwards, I would have to find a cot somewhere down the hall for a nap.
    I wish you great success with the new items.

    • Jenny Kimball

      Andy, let me know after you come in and try the new items what you think. We want your feedback!

  2. Marilyn Kropp

    I was there in February and the food was so good we seldom went anywhere else to eat. The poblano corn chowder was the absolute best I have ever eaten. Is there a way to get the recipe so I can make it at home??? I promise not to put it on line. I would just like to have something that good when I am away from my favorite city, Santa Fe.

    • Jenny Kimball

      Marilyn, of course we will get you the recipe. What a compliement! I will email it to you once I get it from Chef Lane.

  3. Andy Ritch

    I really enjoyed the Pork Ribeye last night and the BBQ sauce was excellent. I am glad it has been added to the menu.
    Also, your new photo is great.

    • Jenny Kimball

      What a world we live in. I am in London. Just returned from the Chelsea Flower Show and I can respond to your blog comment Andy. Thanks for noticing the new photo. Hope you are great,

  4. Andy Ritch

    I am fine and somewhat jealous of your trip, but I now live in Santa Fe so I am “on” my trip. You are not missing much but the wind!!!! And, the Pork Ribeye!!


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