As Albuquerque’s dining scene continues to evolve…slowly…many people still think of Santa Fe for their special dining experiences. If you don’t have time to drive 65 miles north, there are a few places in the Albuquerque area where one can go to celebrate a special occasion. One such place is Prairie Star on the lands of the Santa Ana Pueblo (where the Hyatt Tamaya is located) about 20 miles north of downtown Albuquerque. Last weekend, my family treated me to dinner there on the eve of Mother’s Day.
Prairie Star serves contemporary Southwestern cuisine and has several elements that make it a special place which I will describe starting off with the most impressive. The restaurant is housed in a beautiful old adobe mansion built over 60 years ago. As you drive up to the restaurant, one immediately notices the view of the Sandia Mountains. The view is unobstructed and, when the sun is setting, you may be treated to a view of the mountains painted in a warm watermelon hue. Inside, it’s cozy and the dining areas consists of several rooms- one with a golden fireplace, a couple with views of the mountains, and a bar area. There’s also outdoor dining and space for large events. Prairie Star has received the annual Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence since 1994 and has a full-time sommelier. About a year and half ago, we celebrated my brother-in-law’s 50th birthday for about 18 people in the golden fireplace room and were very impressed with the wine recommendations from the sommelier. Even though I just had their house chardonnay from Sonoma, it was perfect with my entree.
I ordered the Roasted Poblano Potato Leek Soup and the Pumpkin & Portobello Lasagna. My husband ordered the Prairie Star Romaine Salad and the 505 Spiced Seared Salmon. The kids were not very hungry so each ordered appetizers- Smoked Chicken & Almond Lettuce Wraps, Oven Roasted Blue Crab Cakes and the soup of the day, Cold Cantaloupe with a dollop of Strawberry Whipped Cream.
As usual, there was some taste-testing of everyone’s food. Of the two soups, most of us preferred the poblano potato leek soup for it’s flavor, not it’s color (reminded me a little of pea soup). Both the poblano and leek flavors were balanced and the potato was very subtle but gave the soup a nice consistency. The cantaloupe soup was truly refreshing and the addition of the strawberry whipped cream made it more like a dessert. Drizzled on the soup was a subtle but fruity Spanish olive oil for an extra special touch. The three crab cakes were made with mostly crab and my son enjoyed them (crab cakes are on his top 10 list of favorite foods) but was disappointed by their two-bite size. My daughter enjoyed her lettuce wraps and positively commented on the marmalade that dressed the smoked chicken. My husband stated twice that he really enjoyed his salmon but liked the pilaf even more. I got to taste the pilaf which was very smokey which I am sure held up to the spiced salmon. My lasagna was centered on a browned butter sage sauce which added richness to the dish. We always look at the dessert menu even if we are too full. If I had enough room, I would have ordered the crème brûlée.
The combination of the view, the ambiance, the food and dinner with my loved ones, made this a very special evening. It was a wonderful Mother’s Day treat and we will definitely think of Prairie Star for our future special occasions.
#33cccc;">Tip 1: Be sure to interact with the sommelier for outstanding pairings of wine with your meal.
#33cccc;">Tip 2: Wine & Dine Wednesdays (prix fixe 3 course meal for two people with a bottle of wine for $60 only) and Wine Bar Patio Fridays from 5:30-8:30 with live music.
Date visited: May 12, 2012