After a long day of travel, stepping into the color washed, art-filled lobby of La Posada de Santa Fe revived me immediately. A quick walk past sage green plantings and gently whirling kinetic sculptures, took me to my room where I promptly changed for dinner, meeting my friends at Julia, the hotel’s signature restaurant. With a name so unusual, I immediately asked my server to explain.
Julia, he said, was Julia Staab, a local legend and the original occupant of the Palace Street mansion, which is still part of this beautiful, now sprawling hotel. which is still part of this beautiful, now sprawling hotel. After marrying Abraham Staab, a prosperous merchant, Julia entertained locals and dignitaries in grand style. The Staabs moved into their home in 1882, raising six children in opulence.
It’s said that this fashionable lady loved her home with such a passion she never left it. And in the years since Julia Staab’s death, many ghostly sightings of her have kept this legend alive. Today, she is the muse–and namesake–for La Posada’s newest restaurant headed by Chef Todd Hall.
New Chef, Casually Elegant Menu
Todd Hall’s love of local Southwestern ingredients and his background in fine French cuisine pair well for a menu that’s fancy, but not fussy. If Julia’s ghost is around, the aromas emanating from his kitchen would surely lure her out.
Seared Foie Gras and Grilled Apricots? I’m still dreaming of it — the charred sweetness of the fruit and the silkiness of the foie gras were meant for each other. The Kale Salad with Cashews and Blueberries was a new take on one of today’s favorite salads, especially served in a Robiola Cheese Shell. (One day for lunch, that was all I had. Paired with a wonderful Chardonnay, it was perfect).
Dinner was Wild Salmon with Corn Succotash and Poblanos. The salmon, Chef Hall told us, was sustainably caught. The poblanos came from a local source, of course. And although I couldn’t imagine anything more, we ordered the artfully constructed Dark Chocolate Ganache Pueblo along with the Warm Apple Tart. We silently indulged in flaky pastry and fragrant apples as we deconstructed the charming little pueblo, loving every rich bite.
The menu has a tempting mix of meat dishes, fish preparations and vegetables with the spices Santa Fe is known for.
Glowing Art, Dark Wood, A Welcoming Fireplace
Julia is located just steps from the lobby. It’s small and intimate, atypical of a hotel restaurant. There’s a large high-top table for livelier groups and comfortable tables generously spaced around the room for small to medium groups. Low light from the fireplace and Santa Fe style candelabras with big white pillar candles make the guests look their best.
And if you’re lucky, it will also illuminate the wafting ghost of Julia to her very best advantage. —Story by Leslie Long, RFT Contributor; photos courtesy Julia
If You Go
Julia, a Spirited Restaurant and Bar
La Posada de Santa Fe
330 East Palace Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87501