Julia a spirited addition to Santa Fe dining scene

Chef Todd Hall is no longer at Julia. Sous Chef Mary Loya, whose been in the La Posada kitchen for decades is currently at the helm.

One of the many things we love about living here is the exciting Santa Fe dining scene. This spring and summer there have been a few notable arrivals on the Santa Fe dining scene. Julia, at La Posada de Santa Fe, one of the city’s luxury hotels, is an exciting addition. Playing on Julia Staab the resident ghost, the resort is using the tagline: “a Spirited Restaurant & Bar.”

Meet Chef Todd Hall

One of the newest fine dining restaurants in Santa Fe Executive Chef Todd Hall poses in Julia's dining room photo/courtesy of La Posada de Santa Fe

Executive Chef Todd Hall poses in Julia’s dining room photo/courtesy of La Posada de Santa Fe

When the historic resort joined Starwood’s Luxury Collection in May 2014, they promised that the restaurant would be revived with a prestigious chef at the helm. It took a year, but Julia officially opened in June 2015 with Chef Todd Hall, a veteran of many prestigious kitchens including Little Nell in Aspen, as Executive Chef. The quirky culinarian’s roller coaster career includes dealing with a period of drug addiction, but he’s triumphed. Talking with him it’s clear he loves what he does and he does it well.

The Julia dining room, just off the hotel’s intimate lobby, is dominated by art (the hotel has a resident curator) and a big fireplace at the east end of the room. We were invited for dinner at the beginning of the summer and we were wowed by our meal. Hall arrived to greet us; he had a decided limp. He had sprained his ankle in a kitchen mishap earlier that day. He should have gone home but he wanted to be there to cook for us and chat so despite being in considerable pain he soldiered on. This dedication did not go unappreciated!

Off to a good start

Raul Silver Coin margarita is the perfect summer cocktail at at Julia at La Posada de Santa Fe Santa Fe NM a great place to drink and dine

The smooth Raul’s Silver Coin margarita was refreshing on a hot day, photo/Steve Collins

We start our evening at at Julia with drinks; wine for Steve and the Raul Silver Coin margarita for me. Cointreau joined the tequila along with a squeeze each of a fresh orange, lime and lemon. Both a lemon and lime wedge graced the glass. It’s smooth, cooling and delicious; perfect for a warm summer evening. As we were sip our drinks green chile popovers accompanied by a small ramekin of honey butter arrive. I hadn’t had a popover in a restaurant in decades and forgot the steamy goodness of one of these putty beauties fresh from the oven, paired with the butter, they were heavenly. We were off to a good start.

I had cheated and looked at the menu online. I was wowed by the appetizer list and arrived with a strategy planned that included the pan seared foie gras, and cornbread-crusted fried oysters as appetizers. Sadly, the oysters were off the menu as Hall said he didn’t like how they had been looking when they arrived at his kitchen. He removed them from the menu. Hall visits the Santa Fe Farmers Market twice a week to buy locally. We applaud his commitment to fresh and locally grown ingredients.

For starters

Crab tower with jalapeno gazpacho at Julia at La Posada de Santa Fe

Tuna and crab tower atop Chef Todd Hall’s tangy gazpacho, photo/courtesy La Posada

Our meal begins with the velvety seared foie gras, and Tuna & Lobster Claw Parfait. The foie gras, one of my favorite foods on the planet, comes with grilled apricots, an apricot reduction, and toasted gingerbread brioche. The acidity of the grilled apricots is the perfect balance to the sweetness of the reduction. Exclamations of delight are coming out of my mouth as I savor this dish. (I have it all on tape.) The parfait topped with jalapeno ice is served atop silky yellow heirloom tomatoes and yellow watermelon gazpacho that’s so tangy I my lips pucker with every bite. The tang comes from apple Bragg’s organic apple cider vinegar and a squeeze of fresh lemon. It’s both delicious and refreshing. I eat way more of this addictive cold soup than I should have;. I’m full and we still have entrees to come.

Choirzo stuffed quail with Mexican crema and plantains

Chorizo-stuffed quail with plantains and Mexican crema photo/courtesy La Posada

Chef Hall appears bearing two surprises. The miniature version of his baby kale salad with plump, juicy blueberries and mixed nuts including cashews, Brazil nuts filberts almonds and pistachios is topped with citrus vinaigrette and artfully composed in a Robiola (an Italian cheese) shell. If you want to make it a meal you can add Nantucket scallops, sea scallops, prawns or chicken for an additional charge. The second dish he brings in Manchester Farms baby quail stuffed with a smoky-flavored chorizo that’s topped with Mexican crema. When I tell him I’m already stuffed he laughs and says, “I have so much more for you.” And he did.

The main event

Dover Sole with samphire at Julia at La Posada de Santa Fe Santa Fe NM a great place to dine

Perfectly sauteed Dover Sole topped with beure noisette and Meyer lemon puree served with samphire photo/courtesy La Posada

The Chef arrives to find out what we want for entrees. After a discussion we opt for the roast Colorado rack of lamb and the Dover Sole, Hall’s favorite dish on the current menu. (Note that because of changes due to availability and seasonality the menu is may change.) The sole is served with samphire (also known as “sea beans” or “sea asparagus), a plant that grows on rocks and cliffs by the sea. This samphire Hall serves is harvested close to where the sole is caught. The green sea vegetable, which looks like haricot vert with tiny arms coming off the stalk, has a distinctly salty taste. We love it! The sole is sautéed and topped with a beurre noisette and a Meyer lemon puree.

at Julia at La Posada de Santa Fe Santa Fe NM a great place to dine

The succulent mustard and pistachio encrusted rack of lamb photo/courtesy of La Posada

The succulent honey, stone-ground mustard and pistachio encrusted Colorado chops are large and perfectly cooked to a juicy medium rare and are sauced with a rich demi-glace. A side of locally-gathered morel mushrooms and the first of the chanterelles accompanies the lamb. Hall removes three of the ribs from the seven-chop rack so that it roasts evenly). The portion is big enough for moderate eaters to share. The lamb is offered a la carte as are the steaks. There’s a selection of sides on the menu. Bring your appetite; portions are all ample.

The Finale

Chocolate Pueblo dessert at Julia at La Posada de Santa Fe Santa Fe NM a great place to dine

The decadent chocolate Pueblo is a great end to your meal if you have a sweet tooth photo/Todd Hall

We are stuffed, but dessert is still to come. We are in the chefs hands. He surprises us with the Pueblo, a confection made from a triple fudge brownie topped with a hazelnut ganache, milk chocolate and dark chocolate all shaped into a southwest Indian pueblo. This plate is finished with a dollop of hazelnut mocha cream, graham cracker gravel, and chocolate rocks. This rich finale to the meal is a New Mexico landscape on a plate and so rich and decadent and begs to be shared. The second dessert that comes to the table is coconut panna cotta made with caramelized milk served with a German chocolate cake ball and berries. It’s refreshing on a hot evening. Pastries are sourced from Che Dre a local bakery owned by talented pastry chef Andrea Clover. We are so full that we can only manage tastes of these creations. But, along with our entrée leftovers they are packed up for us to take home.

We head off into the night sated and savoring our wonderful Julia dinner. It was truly a spirited evening!

Author’s note: We were guests of La Posada de Santa Fe. All opinions are our own.

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24 Responses to “Julia a spirited addition to Santa Fe dining scene”

  1. Lauralee Dobbins
    August 13, 2019 at 11:44 am #

    Your stories always make me wish I were there. Sounds like a lovely experience at a truly special place.

  2. Irene S. Levine
    August 17, 2019 at 2:15 am #

    Guess we will have to return to La Posada to taste these delectable looking dishes from the new Chef. We were there before Chef Hall 🙂

    • Billie Frank
      August 17, 2019 at 7:32 am #

      The restaurant is better than it’s been in years. Chef Hall has a great way with food.

  3. Paula McInerney
    August 17, 2019 at 4:10 am #

    The plating of the Pueblo is amazing.

    • Billie Frank
      August 17, 2019 at 7:32 am #

      The Pueblo is brilliant. It’s almost too pretty to eat, but…

  4. Nancie
    August 17, 2019 at 4:12 am #

    Everything looks delicious. I am especially taken with the chocolate Pueblo.

    • Billie Frank
      August 17, 2019 at 7:34 am #

      It’s a chocolate lover’s dream! Everything we ate that night was delicious.

  5. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go
    August 17, 2019 at 5:47 am #

    Your descriptions and photos had me dreaming of dinner and I’m still drinking my pre - breakfast coffee! I’ve never heard of samphire or sea asparagus and I’ll be looking for it on future menus so I can try it. However, you had my complete attention with your first picture of dessert and the word “decadent!” Hope to include Santa Fe on a fall road trip this year!

    • Billie Frank
      August 17, 2019 at 7:36 am #

      That dessert seems to have grabbed everyone’s attention. I’d never seen or tasted samphire either. It was delicious- I have no idea if this reflects the chef’s talent or the taste of the eas vegetable itself.

  6. Donna Janke
    August 17, 2019 at 6:35 am #

    All the food looks delicious, so artfully presented. The chocolate Pueblo looks amazing (and I don’t even have much of a sweet tooth).

    • Billie Frank
      August 17, 2019 at 7:37 am #

      You would need a sweet tooth for the Pueblo! But it was delicious as was everything else we tasted that evening.

  7. noel
    August 17, 2019 at 10:09 am #

    Wow, what an exceptional tasting menu, everything looks great and your photos are beautiful!

    • Billie Frank
      August 18, 2019 at 2:21 pm #

      We can’t take credit for a lot of those photos- they came from the hotel- that goes to the hotel’s photographer. We weren’t happy with how ours turned out. The food was as good as it looks! And we love the artistry that goes into the presentation as well as into the preparation and cooking.

  8. Carole Terwilliger Meyers
    August 18, 2019 at 3:55 pm #

    The dishes at Julia in La Posada de Santa Fe look spectacular! Great photography and gorgeous kitchen work. I’ll definitely have the chocolate pueblo for dessert, please!

  9. Suzanne Fluhr
    August 18, 2019 at 8:39 pm #

    Julia’s certainly looks like a place for destination dining. Maybe next time we’re in Santa Fe, we’ll skip the Pho place and kick it up a notch—or a mile. However, as you know, I’ll have to be careful about what I order—hold the chile!

    • Billie Frank
      August 18, 2019 at 10:08 pm #

      They have food that’s not spicy for you Suzanne. You would have loved that fish!

  10. Nathalie
    August 19, 2019 at 12:16 pm #

    Julia’s seems like a great choice for dinner. Chef Hall’s food looks simple but delicious, just the way we like it, none of those pretentious, played with plates.

    • Billie Frank
      August 19, 2019 at 2:19 pm #

      His plates are well done as is the food, but there’s nothing nouvelle about it where the plate sometimes seems more important than what’s on it.

  11. Vicki Winters
    August 19, 2019 at 4:17 pm #

    This post made me do that DEEP SIGH of “Oh This Food Looks SO GOOD!!!? Thanks for sharing. I’m happy to hear my favorite Hotel brand, Starwood (no, they don’t pay me to say that) has such a great Chef in Todd Hall.

    • Billie Frank
      August 19, 2019 at 4:44 pm #

      Hope you get to Santa Fe to experience your favorite hotel chain and their new chef in person!

  12. The GypsyNesters
    August 19, 2019 at 5:19 pm #

    We have had some great meals in Santa Fe. Stopped in at La Posada but didn’t have dinner. Looks like we should have. Love the chocolate Pueblo!

    • Billie Frank
      August 20, 2019 at 9:45 am #

      Depending on when you were here. La Posada hadn’t had a real chef for over a year. Fuego the prior restaurant was closed to open Julia.

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