The Albuquerque dining scene just got bumped up a big notch with the introduction of Chef Marc Quinones at Sandia Resort & Casino.
Chef Marc’s diverse background, his focus on ethnic fusion of flavors, as well as his eclectic food experiences across the United States, have proven to be an unstoppable and winning formula for him. Add to this the fact that he openly solicits local products and meats, emphasizes seasonality and sustainability in his menu, designs his recipes for the ultimate symphony of tantalizing tastes, and is ever the perfectionist in his artistic plating skills, and it is no surprise that he is taking the world of fine dining in New Mexico by storm.
Marc Quinones is Chef de Cuisine at the fine dining restaurant of Bien Shur Rooftop Restaurant. Located on the top floor of the Sandia Resort & Casino, the restaurant commands impressive views of the Sandia Mountains on one side while the other side overlooks the city lights of Rio Rancho. With high ceilings, modern lines, and impressive stonework that effectively grounds the spacious dining room, the place exudes sophistication while imparting a casual ambiance. A well-stocked wine cellar completes the picture.
Chef Marc likes to make a list of what is in season and then plot it out on a big grid. “I find that by using a matrix I can capitalize on seasonality and freshness while making it a fun way to cook,” notes Chef Marc. “This way I keep all ingredients in mind and then my dish happens right there in the moment.” And he keeps it surprising by having weekly specials and highlighting wild game.
My favorite appetizer is the pan fried “jumbo lump” crab cake with cilantro oil, saffron aioli, and a slaw composed of apple, pear, and peach. This is tender lumps of crab slightly dressed so that the full flavor is featured. The slaw, one of the most creative I have tasted, changes with the seasonality of ingredients.
“Lamb is by far the most popular dish on the menu,” notes Chef Marc. Labeled as “New Mexico Lamb Chops,” they are served with green chile au gratin, baby squash calabacitas, and three dots of a red chile gastrique. Admittedly, the lamb is some of the most tender I have tasted, even dishes I have had in New Zealand and Australia. He tells me that the lamb is procured from a ranch southeast of Santa Fe where they are humanely raised and processed. That probably accounts for the tender flavor.
Equally popular is the Chilean Sea Bass served with a wild mushroom risotto, apricot gastrique, Swiss chard, and Poisson au crème. For those seeking mild tenderness with an eloquent consistency and a risotto that can stand on its own, this is the choice.
The Diver Sea Scallops are a great selection, featuring a slightly crispy exterior with a succulent interior. I also heartily recommend the All Natural Chicken “Arroz con Pollo.” This is a dish that showcases Chef Marc’s heritage and consists of basmati rice, black beans, and arugula salad.
However, I consider the Elk Tenderloin En Sous Vide to be the signature dish. “The elk is a fun dish because it is playful and takes me back to my childhood,” says Chef Marc. Along with a plated blueberry smear, the dish includes creamsicle potatoes and red cabbage. The creamsicle potatoes consist of sweet potato and orange juice and offer the right amount of color and contrast to this hearty dish.
Bien Shur Rooftop Restaurant
Sandia Resort & Casino
30 Rainbow Road NE
Albuquerque, NM 87113
505.796.7500 for reservations