At Farm & Table, one of Albuquerque’s newest and most compelling restaurants to hit the scene, the real story is roots. As Cherie Montoya Austin likes to tell firsttime visitors, “My dad—there’s the founder of our feast!”
The sweet adobe building housing the restaurant and its modest farm abut the property’s nine-acre alfalfa field. Located in the heart of the North Valley, where rich soil is fed by the Rio Grande, this area has traditionally been home to sprawling, bucolic agricultural land with big spreading trees. About ten years ago, as commercial interests began to encroach, Cherie’s father bought what is now the family’s property to preserve it from being developed for housing. “He did it out of his love for this valley,” says Cherie, who, along with her sisters, grew up in the area.
Currently, there are five generations of the family who live within a two-mile radius. People in the Valley, including her grandparents, grew most of what they ate. Cherie herself was raised to appreciate food made from scratch using local ingredients, mostly homegrown. And she remembers that slower, more relaxed time when people knew their neighbors and the community thrived on its resilient web of interconnections.
With a background like that, Cherie is the perfect person to successfully execute a plan for a restaurant like Farm & Table. Along with her husband, Joseph Austin, she opened it a scant few months ago, and so far it’s been slammed every single night. With its focus on sophisticated and simple, elegant dishes crafted with locally-sourced seasonal ingredients (including those from the eatery’s farm out back), a democratically run kitchen in which everyone’s ideas are encouraged, genuine hospitality (“Come find your place at the table!” says their website), and the fervent desire to be a cornerstone of the community, Farm & Table offers diners a culinary concept they have obviously been hungering for.
story by GAIL SNYDER
photos by KATE RUSSELL
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