Sandia Resort & Casino's - Indian Gaming

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Sandia Resort & Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico, offers many attractions ... hotel, sits one of Sandia's most elegant features – Bien Shur, the crown jewel of ...
CULINARY REVIEW

Sandia Resort & Casino’s

by AJ Naff

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andia Resort & Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico, offers many attractions to customers. The Sandia Golf Club features an 18-hole, Scott Miller-designed course; the recently opened Green Reed Spa is a cutting-edge facility complete with a fitness center; and 35,000 sq. ft. of flexible, state-of-the-art meeting space. High above these amenities, on the ninth floor of the hotel, sits one of Sandia's most elegant features – Bien Shur, the crown jewel of the resort's dining experience. Bien Shur means “Blue Mountain” in the Native tongue of the Pueblo of Sandia. The resort's fine dining venue is named for the majestic Sandia Mountain range, of which it offers breathtaking views. The restaurant is located on the very top floor of the hotel to provide a unique dining experience. “The top floor provides our guests with unobstructed, panoramic views of the Sandia Mountains that are just impeccable,” said Stuwart Paisano, Governor of the Pueblo of Sandia. From any point in the restaurant, guests can enjoy views not only of the mountains, but also of the Sandia Golf Club and even the city of Albuquerque. “In terms of views, we without a doubt have the best because of the restaurant's panoramic quality,” said Don Nader, Manager of Bien Shur. “The views are exceptional for watching the sun set or for watching rainstorms. You simply cannot compare them to those found at any other location.” Open five nights a week for dinner, the dining room seats up to 110 guests, and comprises about one third of the floor. The other two thirds consist of a lounge area featuring a full bar 22 Indian Gaming

May 2006

and 22 tables. “The inside lounge and bar is very stunning and expansive,” Nader remarked. “As guests enter the 9th floor, the lounge is the first thing they see.” The restaurant provides an outdoor lounge, as well, which is open seasonally beginning during the first part of May. During the summer months, when the outdoor lounge is open, Bien Shur can accommodate up to approximately 150 guests. The outdoor lounge provides guests with a full bar, tables for dining, as well as beautiful views of both the city and the mountain range. “The atmosphere is just amazing,” said Stuwart Paisano. “The sunsets cast spectacular colors on the mountains. You haven't seen the sun set until you've seen it set from this restaurant.” The décor in Bien Shur is of Southwestern Pueblo influence and utilizes rocks native to the area, such as sandstone and limestone. The thin rocks are layered like bricks, a design found throughout the resort. A large, dark brown fireplace sits toward the center of the main dining room and compliments the decorative stonework. The result gives Bien Shur a polished, adobe appearance utilizing natural light and color. The shirts worn by the servers are a mix of beige and yellow, compiment the décor of the restaurant. The cocktail staff wears a darker uniform that consists of a wrap-style top. The dress of patrons at Bien Shur is casual business attire. “We're not asking for our guests to wear ties and jackets,” said Nader, “however we are trying to avoid denim, tennis shoes and shorts. That type of clothing is a little too casual for our setting.” According to Paisano, Bien Shur is currently seeking the AAA Four Diamond rating, an evaluation for which service must be flawless. “The training that we give to our servers ensures they

“The atmosphere is just amazing... the sunsets cast spectacular colors on the mountains. You haven't seen the sun set until you've seen it set from this restaurant.” – Stuwart Paisano – provide the best quality of customer service,” Paisano said. “Knowledge is an important aspect of this service - knowledge of the menu, the wine selection, and the architectural aspects of the restaurant.” To achieve this high level of service, staff members undergo extensive training that includes roleplaying. The menu at Bien Shur is best described as contemporary American with internaSalim Khoury, Executive Chef tional influence. “We are different than any other restaurant in terms of the menu,” said Salim Khoury, the Executive Chef at Sandia Resort & Casino. “Each dish has its own character and its own flavor.” The menu consists of 12 entrees, six appetizers, four salads, and three soups. “Each selection is accompanied by a different sauce and side dish,” said Khoury. “There is a lot of preparation involved with this menu.” Bien Shur uses only the freshest ingredients to prepare its dishes and makes every dish from scratch. The venue's signature entree is the buffalo tenderloin, a favorite among guests. The tenderloin is wrapped in apple-smoked bacon and served with a native bean succotash, which is a mixture of beans, bacon and onions. A glazed acorn squash is served as a side. “We strive not to serve the same basic foods as other restaurants,” said Khoury. “We are constantly branching out and that is what makes us different.” The culinary staff at Bien Shur is made up of one Su Chef and four cooks. The staff arrives at about 2 p.m. to take care of preparations until the restaurant opens for its dinner guests. “That's roughly three and a half hours of preparation each day,” said Khoury. “Considering, though, that five team members are doing the prep work, the preparation time is really about 18 hours a day.” To keep the menu fresh and exciting, changes are made on a seasonal basis, including a separate menu exclusively for the outdoor lounge. The wine selection at Bien Shur was assembled to best represent the regions of the world. Guests can choose from a variety of French, Italian and Australian wines. “The wine selection is diverse, but not so large that it confuses the customers,” said Khoury. The restaurant also represents

several wines from New Mexico. “We strive to represent international as well as local wines,” said Nader. “For this reason, we have brought on a number of wines from local producers.” Bien Shur offers a superb combination of the qualities that seasoned guests really look for in a fine dining venue, including menu, service and ambiance. The variety of appetizers, side dishes and entrees makes for an exquisite dining experience. The staff is highly focused on quality customer service, interacting with the customers to tailor their experience. As for the ambience, the views from Bien Shur are incomparable. “I have my own slogan for the restaurant,” said Salim Khoury. “The best restaurant is not in Albuquerque - it's above it.” ♣ For more information on dining at Sandia Resort & Casino, visit www.sandiacasino.com

May 2006

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