Prairie Star is unquestionably one of the great restaurants of New Mexico. It's pricey, yes, but worth it (and worth the modest 15-minute drive from Albuquerque) for special occasions.
Directions: North on I-25, take the second Bernalillo exit west. You can't miss the Santa Ana Casino west of town. Turn right at the main entrance and follow the signs to Prairie Star and the golf course.
It's a shame none of our party of three drink wine, because this place is known for its great wine list. But then there's the food:
After it was all over, the three of us sat back and tried to think of one single thing to complain about. Finally we remembered that one of us had asked for water and iced tea initially but never got the water. The iced tea had been so religiously refilled that he never noticed the absence of the water.
The menu is impressive but even all that lovely verbiage doesn't do it justice. I'll cover just a few of the high points for me.
I'm a scallop fan. I'll take scallops over any type of crab or lobster. These were some of the best scallops I've had anywhere. I had to think for a while to remember a better scallop dish (the country style teriyaki scallops at Sanppo [sic] in San Francisco sometime around 1980).
The apple watermelon soup is like nothing I've ever had before, and perfect as a summer cooler. The soup itself was just on the perfect edge between tart and sweet, the phyllo boat gave it some visual and textural interest, and the citrus cream blended nicely with the soup once the boat broke up.
The ``chocolate death dessert'' was mine, of course. I wanted to go and compose an oratorio honoring the science of pastry.
Even against all these marvels, the bison tenderloin stood out. It was possibly the best red meat I've had anywhere in any style. I've had bison on several occasions and always found it tough. Not this time. I cut the half-inch-thick slices with my fork. Unbelievably flavorful.
The view of the Sandias is very nice, and the golf course in the near foreground is well kept, nicely rustic with plenty of birds and trees.
So, yes, it is a splurge place, but we really got our money's worth.