Indigo Crow

The name sounds like a song. In fact, it could be a song. The song would be about taking the long way home one day. Instead of hopping on the highway, you linger on an outward bound artery that sheds its urban angularity. The buildings start falling off, interrupted by increasingly frequent overgrown parking lots, trailer parks, and then true, unadulterated open space. The street becomes a road, and abandons traffic signals and intersections altogether, relaxing into curves.

You’re probably parallel to the interstate, but you can’t hear it, and you’re pretty sure you don’t care, anyway. It’s a little bit fascinating, you muse to yourself, how you never knew that just minutes from the city center – in this case, that city would be Albuquerque – there is a ribbon of sleepy two lane winding through cottonwood groves and horse farms.

That would be the first verse, most likely. The aural equivalent of the appetizer, as it were. It’s late afternoon, not too early for a glass of red wine, or to start craving dinner. About here would be a chorus, which would have some great zinger of a word that miraculously rhymes with “Corrales”, because in reality, that’s where you’d be. You’d have found yourself in a hitherto undiscovered land (by the likes of your expat californian self, anyway) a rustic village nestled in along a country road. It’s near dusk; the glow of patio lights just down the road draws you in.

This would be second verse territory here. Something about how everyone seems to know each other, and they make you feel like it’s nice to have you back, it sure has been a while, even though you’ve never set foot there before. It’s just that kind of place. It’s a little hard to escape the go-to chord changes, the minor-resolving-to-major melodies, but in this case, they all ring true – there really is a restaurant called Indigo Crow, run by owners Don and Regina Raber, in a place called Corrales, north of Albuquerque, and it really has this effect on the unsuspecting stranger.

There’s enough here for a third, maybe even fourth verse, dedicated solely to the great plates emerging from the kitchen in which the charismatic chef Junior choreographs a breathless yet perfectly synchronized two step of sauces and sautées with his sous.

I think in my memory the Indigo Crow will always be suspended in the twilight of the warm summer evening when I photographed the restaurant and her hearty crew for Local Flavor, but really, there’s probably a refrain towards the end of this song, about how cozy it is in the winter time, when piñon crackles in the kiva, when steam from the kitchen and the warmth from a dozen animated conversations condenses on the windows, insulating everyone inside from the night’s chill. It’s that kind of place.


The entrance to Indigo Crow sets the stage...


Owner Don Raber surveys the patio


It all began with the clams.


Chef Junior at the helm.


Perfect shanks. The aroma drove me to distraction during the setup for this shot.




The devastating desert at Indigo Crow



The album cover, of course.

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