Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Year yields pleasant surprises.

Byline: Charlotte Balcomb Lane OF THE JOURNAL

DINING

Cafe Bodega, St. James Tearoom tie for Best New Restaurant of the Year

After reviewing more than 54 restaurants in the year 2000, I'm surprised that there could still be surprises among Albuquerque's restaurants. But there are.

One surprise is that my one of my choices in this year's tie for Best New Restaurant of the Year goes to the descendant of the cafe named in 1999 as Best Restaurant of the Year.

My picks this year for Best New Restaurant are Cafe Bodega, which ties with the delightful and charming St. James Tearoom. I named Cafe Bodega's predecessor, Cafe de las Placitas, Best Restaurant of the Year for 1999.

Many people don't know that Cafe de las Placitas closed last summer and reopened in Albuquerque with a new name and new menu as Cafe Bodega. The chef and owner, Matthew Besse-Brewer, and his wife, Barbara Besse-Brewer, essentially transferred intact their skills in food and service to the new location.

At the same time, they eased up on the formality, giving the new restaurant the genial air of true "cafe."

When Cafe de las Placitas closed, Matthew Besse-Brewer said he was hoping to make the new cafe a place where folks could go once a month, instead of once a year. It has already happened. In the few months it has been open, Cafe Bodega has developed a fleet of regular customers for both lunch and dinner. …

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