Restaurant Review: Pyramid Café
Selfless acts of gyro-ism
By: Rob DeWalt
Published online: Friday, August 03, 2012
Appeared in: Pasateimpo
Draw a line in the sand anywhere in Santa Fe
2 ½ chiles
505 W. Cordova Road 505-989-1378
Lunch & dinner 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
Takeout & catering available, Noise level: quiet to moderate, Vegetarian options, Handicapped-accessible, Occasional live music and Middle Eastern dance
In short order:
Hummus outlets are a dime a dozen
in Santa Fe’s restaurant scene, but if you
scratch beneath the chickpea surface,
you may just discover an oasis of flavor.
, which also has a presence
in Los Alamos, serves up Greek and
North African staples with the occasional
Mediterranean special, and the hummus
is good to boot. A strip-mall facade belies
a colorful interior and menu, although
service suffers from that waiting-for-the-
check-too-long frustration that plagues
many local restaurants these days.
Recommended: Mediterranean garlic-
butter shrimp, lamb/beef gyro plate,
Tunisian brik à l’oeuf, and baklava.
*Ratings range from 0 to 4 chiles, including half chiles.
This reflects the reviewer's experience with regard
to food and drink, atmosphere, service, and value
, and there’s
a good chance it will bisect a plate of hummus. Let’s face
it: the whirled chickpea dish has become a sight almost as
familiar as the breakfast burrito in this town.
Nestled between a spice store and a Vietnamese restaurant
on Cordova Road, Pyramid Café, which also has a location in
Los Alamos, serves up some of the creamiest, most garlicky
hummus in town, but to go there for just the hummus is
to deny yourself an oasis of other flavors. Pyramid’s strip-
mall facade belies its colorful, if awkwardly lit, interior.
The café offers diners a choice between natural light in the
front dining room and subdued lighting in the back dining
room during the day. At night, both dining areas are dimly
illuminated. The back room, with its colorful walls, hanging
textiles, bright-red table linens, and arching swaths of shiny
fabric, is more inviting, especially if you’re not in a rush.
A dinner appetizer of Mediterranean garlic-butter shrimp
was just that: simple, clean flavors and plump peeled
medium-sized crustaceans. The list of white wines proved
uninspired, but a little squeeze of lemon cut through the
butterfat in the dish nicely. A falafel plate — five crunchy-
on-the-outside chickpea fritters on a bed of lettuce sided
with tzatziki (yogurt and cucumber sauce), creamy hummus,
herbaceous tabbouleh, and two briny dolmas (vegetable-and-
rice-stuffed grape leaves) — was generous. All components
of the dish were executed wonderfully, save for the main
attraction. The falafel was smothered in so much cumin that
the spice overpowered everything.
My equally humongous lamb and beef gyro combo plate
with warm pita bread, harissa (a spicy North African condi-
ment, this one made with caraway), tzatziki, basmati rice,
and an included Greek salad of romaine lettuce, olives,
cucumber, tomato, feta cheese, and lemony vinaigrette
could have been a dinner for two. This is locally made gyro
at its juiciest and finest. The meal ended with scrumptious,
delicately spiced, nutty house-made baklava and a super-
sweet one-two Turkish-coffee punch.
The promise of decent lamb tagine at a strip-mall restaurant
is one I couldn’t have imagined being fulfilled until I tried
Pyramid’s offering during a late lunch visit. Named after the
vessel it’s prepared in, this slow-cooked Berber version of the
dish can be sweet or savory, but either way, spices such as
clove, ginger, and cinnamon make up its aromatic backbone.
Pyramid’s lamb tagine marries New Mexico lamb with
potato, tomato, and black mission figs. Whole cloves and bay
leaves figure prominently, and although they flavor the tagine
well, they are free-floating in the dish, and nothing kills the
palate quite like biting into a whole clove or bay leaf. Perhaps
they need to be bundled in cheesecloth for easy removal
before serving. My included cup of avgolemono, or Greek
egg-lemon-chicken-egg soup with rice, was OK. The flavors
were there, but the soup was lukewarm, and the rice was
A “Philly cheese” lamb and beef gyro sandwich (on pita
bread) with marvelous house-cut fries was unwieldy, and
finding any Swiss cheese on this monstrosity was a chore.
On that note: Does the world really need another Philly-cheese
hybrid? Skip this gimmick, and go for the traditional gyro plate.
The hearty vegetarian showpiece at Pyramid is the Tunisian
brik à l’oeuf, a thin, crisp pastry stuffed with mashed potatoes,
parsley, and capers, and in the center of it all, an egg, its yolk
running gooey and golden. If you appreciate a runny-egg
breakfast for lunch or dinner, brik à l’oeuf is the Tunisian
end-all-be-all. Please don’t skip the salata houriya, a shredded-
carrot salad topped with crumbled feta cheese. Order it with
the brik if you feel guilty about not eating your vegetables.
I took an order of spanakopita back to the office for lunch
one afternoon and wasn’t disappointed. Two large wedges
of spinach-and-feta-stuffed pastry made the five-minute trip
well. It was a little light on flavor, but the accompanying
Greek salad was bright and crisp. Pyramid uses a thin pastry
other than traditional phyllo dough for both its spanakopita
and brik à l’oeuf. It’s more akin to malsouqa, a Tunisian
mainstay that is less brittle after cooking.
A note about service: during two sit-down meals, things
went smoothly until I experienced a major lull between
asking for the bill and receiving it. It seems to be an epidemic
in Santa Fe, either because dining rooms are understaffed
or because servers and/or managers aren’t paying attention.
Whatever the reason, it leaves a bitter taste.
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