New Year's Eve is a tough night for dining out, even tougher than figuring out which Albuquerque restaurants close on Sundays and which ones close on Mondays. Some of the places you'd expect to be open on a big, fancy night, close because they want to spend the holiday with their own friends and family. But then there are the little mom ’n' pop joints that remain inexplicably open. Some of the restaurants serving on New Year's Seasons will simply serve their regular menus, perhaps with the addition of a special or two. Others, like those listed here, have chosen to lure diners with flashy menus full of flown-in seafood, prime rib and filet mignon. Many of the prix-fixe dinners include wine; some don't. Be sure to go over all the details when you call, and call you must.
If a drive to the East Mountains sounds like just the sort of romantic getaway you had in mind, then consider the four-course wine-pairing dinner at Asian-inspired Nouveau Noodles. The evening's menu puts homey dishes like pork empanadas with interesting wines (in this case, McManus Family Syrah). A fried oyster salad is designed to be washed down with Rudi Weist Rhein River Riesling. It would seem impossible to match the evening's main course, coffee-crusted sirloin kabobs in a Szechwan sauce, might seem too multi-culti to be successfully paired with wine, but there must be something just deep but still fruity enough about the Lawson Ranch Cabernet that makes it work. If you want to experience the wine pairings, Nouveau Noodles' dinner costs $42 plus tax. Without wine it's $30. Call 286-5886 for reservations.
At Old Town's Ambrozia, the chefs will be cooking up a five-course menu comprised of some of their favorite dishes from the past two years. The dinner costs $85 per person, including champagne. You can expect knockout dishes like stone crab claws with champagne mustard sauce, freshly shucked oyster and cracked conch salad. At Ambrozia, even simple dishes are elevated to new heights, so when they offered Hoppin' John last year, it was no simple dish of black-eyed peas; Roasted sea bass in a sauce of lobster Thermidor bathed a black-eyed pea risotto. Each dish will be paired with its own wine, which is not included in the price. Choose between an early seating (5:30 p.m.) and a late one (8:30 p.m.). Call 242-6560 for reservations.
Or would a few whispered words of Italian be just what your significant other wants to hear? La Piazza is planning on a three-course prix-fixe dinner with plenty of choices, from calamari and shrimp salad with arugula in a lemon vinaigrette to chicken Marsala and shrimp ravioli. Drink Chianti and hold hands like teenagers! There are seven seating times from 5 until 9 p.m. Call 266-4414 for reservations.
At Zinc in Nob Hill, the main dining room will offer a few specials in addition to the regular menu, but the Cellar Bar will be hoppin' with live music a four course prix-fixe dinner of $55. A reservation in the bar entitles you to lounge for two hours while you savor three half-glasses of wine or champagne and choose from plates like duck confit egg rolls, baked oysters, braised lamb ragù or prime rib for two. You should have no excuse to refuse the delectable chocolate truffles or champagne sorbet for dessert. The bar normally allows smoking, but on New Year's Eve they'll prohibit smoking until 10 p.m. The last seating is at 9:30, so if you care for an after-dinner cigar then you'd be well advised to call 254-9462 for reservations as soon as possible.
For something a little more out of the ordinary, check out Pars Cuisine, the Persian restaurant near Century Rio 24 Theatre. Pars New Year's package includes a full dinner, dessert and a glass of champagne for $36 per person or $66 per couple. Vegetarians will appreciate the non-meat options and meat lovers are sure to love the spicy kabobs. Linger on your floor cushions while belly dancers roam through the dining room. There are two seatings, one from 5:30 until 8 p.m. and the other from 8:30 until midnight.