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Flamez Bistro offers top-notch burgers, sandwiches, fries

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When you feel like going out to dinner, Albuquerque offers plenty of come-as-you-are neighborhood cafes and a sufficient variety of fine dining establishments, reservations required. More difficult to name on nights when you are not in the mood or just too busy to cook are informal spots with excellent, not too pricey food, where you can relax and be treated like royalty.

The wild Atlantic salmon with roasted sweet corn succotash with Australian shiraz and blood orange reduction from Flamez Bistro. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

The wild Atlantic salmon with roasted sweet corn succotash with Australian shiraz and blood orange reduction from Flamez Bistro. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Standing tall in this niche is Flamez Bistro, presided over by chef-owner Salim Khoury, formerly of the Ranchers’ Club, who is always on hand to supervise the preparation of each order.

When Flamez recently expanded its dining space into the adjacent Starbucks, it broadened its burger-centric menu as well. The softly lit, comfortable addition, as well as the menu, is sophisticated enough for date nights, birthday celebrations and spontaneous midweek treats.

My burger-loving Denver nephew and I enjoyed a Saturday lunch at Flamez recently, with service that created a relaxing time and space to catch up. He chose a grass-fed beef burger ($11) topped with green chile and dill Havarti cheese from an intriguing list of toppings, with gluten-free bun, an extra $1.25. His burger arrived perfectly done, cooked through and still juicy. Flamez serves a variety of burgers, including black angus beef, buffalo, Colorado lamb, and turkey ($9-$13). The Bistro fries ($5), done with flair with black pepper, sea salt and rosemary, are an essential accompaniment. We couldn’t resist overindulging with housemade onion rings ($5) and a side of rich Gorgonzola aioli.

The Greek salad from Flamez Bistro. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

The Greek salad from Flamez Bistro. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

I ordered the Greek salad ($14), a generous platter of utterly crispy greens, feta cheese, Kalamata olives and surprisingly tasty out-of-season tomatoes with a well-made oregano-spiked dressing and topped with one of those grilled Colorado lamb burgers sporting a lovely char. The salad was a revelation of Flamez’s consistent use of top-notch ingredients. We shared one of chef Khoury’s desserts, recommended by the waiter, the luscious carrot bread pudding ($7), midway between carrot cake and custard, and lattes crowned our contentment.

In addition to an alluring selection of internationally themed sandwiches – caprese, Cuban, torta de carne asada – Flamez specializes in “burger bowls” ($15), each completed with an 8-ounce hamburger steak. Flavors range from the Comfort – or green chile mac and cheese-bacon – to the Asian, Italian, all-American and Russian Stroganoff; the seasonal Holiday Bowl, served right now, features corn bread dressing, roasted Brussels sprouts and sage gravy with a turkey burger – an off-the-cuff way to get your turkey fix between holidays.

Dinner is a fine time to enjoy a good steak or one of the many fresh fish offerings. I love the wild Atlantic salmon over creamy roasted corn succotash with the passion-red tangy blood orange sauce that looks like it wants to do a flamenco dance on the plate ($24). Shrimp and scallops pot pie ($21) is another specialty of the house. Other fish selections include mahi-mahi, Greek-style Atlantic haddock and ahi tuna with pineapple hoisin sauce. Recommendations to start your meal include the outstanding French onion soup ($6) and roasted beet salad ($10).

Of special note: Although the list of wines available by the glass is not large, the selections are superb and reasonably priced, as are the bottled wine offerings.

4 stars

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