Chef Bartel at Mosaic Fine Dining: “I’ve been planning this business for a decade.”
Originally published in Taos News
The chefs and the staff
Mosaic Fine Dining opened on May 14th. It fulfills a lifelong dream for executive chef and owner George Bartel, who has been coming to Taos for about 30 years.
“I always wanted to open a restaurant here,” he said. “Everything I did was geared toward it. I’ve been planning this business for a decade.”
Bartel, a Texas native, attended the New England Culinary Institute, where he was a winner of the Sommelier Award. His professional career began as a meat station chef at The Clifton Inn in Charlottesville, Virginia, a Relais and Chateaux property. He also worked as sous chef and kitchen manager at the Aventino Restaurant in Fort Worth and executive chef and manager at Cafe Darieds in Arlington, Texas.
He has lived in Venezuela and Mexico, which allows him to add a Latin American twist to his cuisine.
“I use classical French techniques, fresh ingredients and different culinary traditions,” he said. “My goal is to have a world mosaic of tastes, flavors, aromas and textures.”
The lead line chef is Damon Simonton, who was a semi-finalist in the 2009 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Southwest Chef and is a UNM-Taos instructor.
“We are very lucky to have him here,” said Bartel.
Dining room manager Isabel Alford was brought up in Las Cruces in a large family. She comes from a long line of excellent cooks.
“Besides offering them great food, I want our guests to feel that they are in a warm and welcoming environment,” she said.
Mosaic Fine Dining is currently employing 26 people, all of them locals.
“We are different from other restaurants because we do a lot more in-house preparation,” said Bartel. “We make our own corned beef, our own prosciutto and sausages. In fact, all the charcuterie is done here.”
As for marketing strategies, the restaurant has a website and advertises in Local Flavor, the Summer Guide, the Chamber of Commerce, KTAOS and other venues.
Ivelisse Brooks, owner of Antiquarius Imports, was in charge of the interior design.
“We are extremely happy with her work,” Bartel said. “Together we decided that every element on display in the restaurant would somehow relate to food, from collecting, bartering and preparing it to the moment of its consumption.”
That is why on the left hand side of the fireplace there are three rare antique Nepalese gurras—hand-carved utensils that were used to emulsify milk and butter products.
“They are over a hundred years old,” Bartel said.
On the right hand side, a small wall features a collection of antique Afghan spoons, and in the main dining room there is an old African textile hand-woven by members of the Kuba Tribe.
“These textiles were used during tribal feasts and celebrations,” said Bartel.
He also wanted to emphasize the desert environment.
“We are in the high desert so I chose objects representative of other desert areas in the world,” said Bartel. “They have the same earth tone colors and rounded forms that we used here.”
The main courses include fish mosaic, bone-in rib eye and pan roasted game hen.
Bartel favors the fish mosaic.
“It’s prepared with fish filets chosen with an emphasis on sustainability,” he said, “and served with roasted Mediterranean vegetables, Moroccan spiced tomato nage and gluten free feta polenta sticks.”
Bartel has an app for the Seafood Watch Program that tells him which fish is better at a particular moment and what to avoid. The information is updated every week.
“The fish may change, depending on what kind is better and fresher,” he said. “But the rest of the dish stays the same.”
The dessert menu starts with a polenta cake.
“Notice that this is not your ordinary polenta cake,” said Bartel. “Ours is served with vanilla citrus cream, fruit compote, chiffonade basil and mint, and toasted pistachios.”
Also available are fruit sorbet, fruit empanadas, molten chocolate cake and strawberry angel cake.
“Lunch is informal,” said Bartel. “It features a selection of sandwiches, salads and main courses that I created. Now, for dinner, we have great white tablecloth service and an impressive wine selection. And there is brunch, too, with huevos rancheros, French toast casserole, Southern style biscuits and gravy…and much more. There is something for every palate.”
Mosaic Fine Dining is located at 108 A South Plaza.
It is open from Tuesday to Saturday and for Sunday brunch, and closed Mondays.
Phone: (575) 751 3438