In what was once the Placitas Chapel, a little Catholic church built during the 1800s, at 803 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, The Love Apple serves up some of the freshest farm-to-table food in Taos.

Jen Hart, the owner, managed the highly acclaimed Joseph's Table, before opening her own establishment after Joseph Wrede moved his highly acclaimed business to Santa Fe.

Hart has gone on to open the popular downtown breakfast and lunch spot Manzanita Market, which also leans heavily on the same Alice Waters-style, bistro aesthetic. The vibe extends beyond the food to the laid-back interior. With the white-washed furnishings, glittering mirrors and Marianne Fahrney's wire chandeliers, the rooms makes one feel one is dining in Provence.

The intimate, charming and comfortable, yet elegant space is very small and fills up fast, especially in winter, when the patio is closed. This summer, until last weekend, only the patio was open for dining, but the governor's recent mandate allows for restaurants to open again at 25 percent capacity.

Hart's early commitment to local and organically grown produce and her substantial list of organic and biodynamic wines has ensured The Love Apple is a favorite of both locals and visitors alike. Because she hardly advertises, the restaurant's popularity has grown solely by word of mouth.

Since opening, it has become a serious destination spot for those in the know.

The menu changes seasonally and right now with the autumn harvest in the air, and hunting season on the ground, you can be assured that the food will reflect the season, with root vegetables and wild game reappearing on the menu.

"I hate talking about myself," Hart responded when I asked to interview her. "Just talk about the food," she suggested with a rueful smile.

The food, needless to say, is always fabulous, with its unrelenting emphasis on simple home cooking using the freshest ingredients. The Love Apple has long worked with local growers and ranchers to make certain the chefs use only organic and grass-fed meats and poultry in their recipes.

During the day Hart can usually be found, wrapped in an apron, working alongside her waitstaff, busing tables and filling water glasses, but The Love Apple is where the chic mother of three's very sophisticated approach to fine dining appeals with its deceptively simple presentation and focus on the food and wine pairings.

Just in time for Labor Day Weekend, The Love Apple is open by reservation only. A glorious covered patio is still an enjoyable option while the warm weather holds.

The Love Apple accepts cash and checks only. Go to theloveapple.net or call (575) 751-0050.

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