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Chimayo offers piquant taste of Southwest

Chimayo: an ancient village in northern New Mexico known for its spiritual healing powers. Chimayo: a South-western restaurant in Park City becoming known for its gastronomic healing abilities.

It's the place to head when you need a robust, New Mexico chile fix to satisfy the longing for the hot stuff. And hot it comes at Chimayo, but not without ample warning from the servers, who graciously offer to place sauces and dressings on the side for sampling.The inviting environs of the Old Southwest-inspired site begins with a whiff of pinion logs burning on the pair of sunburst tile-faced fireplaces. It may be a test on a crowded night to squeeze through the table arrangements, parkas and furs draped over the chair backs and slither into a less-than private dining space. The former Barking Frog location stretches at the beams to accommodate the crowds. Reservations are a must!

Diners all around us were questioning the content of the must-try garlic-cilantro dipping sauce for the lightly-textured Potato Fo-cac-cio chunks. The sauce is pungent with a gentle bite but tastes so rich you guiltily swipe the bowl clean, only to discover that vinegar and egg whites help hold the emulsion that tastes like thousands of creamy calories. Seconds, please!

A host of soups, salads and appetizers makes ordering difficult; one could easily make a meal from such hearty and flavorful offerings. (And with entree prices, it may be necessity for locals.) Chicken soup dresses up with sage-roasted chicken, grilled vegetables and a jalapeno-roasted corn dumpling, while the corn chowder boasts an unusual addition of plantains.

A carry-over from the Barking Frog days, the Crown Roast of Barbecue Ribs with a Chipotle and Carmelized Pineapple Glaze ($26), remains the most ordered item. The rack of ribs arrives at attention, presiding over a collection of savory homefries, beer-battered onion rings and crowned with a sprig of rosemary. The presentation is as smashing as the unique blend of flavors saturating the meaty ribs. A Turkey Paillard Quesadilla ($24) enters with another detailed presentation and features slices of seasoned turkey breast as "tortillas" over a combination of chopped vegetables, cran-berries and chili/corn mashed potatoes.

Desserts at Chimayo provide the perfect partnership with the potent, spicy beginnings; homemade ice creams in enormous, at-least-four-person portions. We attempted the Grilled Banana Sun-dae , a collection of creamy chocolate chip and peanut butter confections smothered with caramel and chocolate sauces and crunchy, honey, chili-roasted peanut brittle.

When the hankering for the robust flavors of the Southwest hits, Chimayo produces the top menu in the state and stands as a legitimate rival for the cuisine's renowned publicist/chef, Santa Fe's Mark Miller.