Alibi V.12 No.45 • Nov 6-12, 2003 

Food Article

The Sheraton Old Town's upscale new Q Bar

Sometimes it's fun to get dressed up and go someplace fancy

Attention, booze-hounds: there's a new saloon in town and it is definitely worth investigating. Last month the Sheraton Old Town unveiled the briefly-named Q Bar. In case you're wondering, Q may be the shortest nickname yet for Albuquerque. Just as there are always people who insist that nobody actually calls the city Burque, some will ask, "who ever called it Q?" Well, they might now. The name is as remarkable as the place.

According to Pam Jung, special events coordinator for the hotel, the concept was to create a very upscale, modern bar that would contrast with the Old New Mexico vibe of this Old Town hotel. "The Sheraton tries to exude history and heritage so it tends to be classical [in design]," she explained. "We wanted the bar to be cutting edge, contemporary, ... warm and plush." Indeed, as Jung says, "It's very urban chic, sophisticated and elegant." The place does have that very designed look of an affluent couple's living room after a particularly successful episode of “Trading Spaces." (The design team of Davis/Dupepe handled the details.)

Q Bar is comprised of five separate rooms with distinctly different atmospheres. The entry salon, filled with overstuffed sofas and chairs, acts as a transition space from the hotel lobby into the bar. It's where people mill about waiting for their friends to arrive and the room into which they retreat when it gets too busy elsewhere.

The piano bar (the place where the actual bar is) is the busiest, most high energy room, with live music Thursdays through Saturdays. Here you can perch on a bar stool, sit with pals around a table or collapse into a comfy couch.

In the billiards room lies a large antique pool table. It costs $20 per hour to play but the table is so large and the room so small that players are forced to use shortened cues. It's fine for casual players but aficionados might find it frustrating. Check it out before signing up to play.

Around the corner from the billiards room is a large, open space with four private booths—you might call them kissing booths—with curtains that can be drawn almost but not quite shut. (Get it? They want the booths to feel romantic but they don't want you to get it on in there.) Across from the booths, guests mingle in a living room arrangement of sofas and chairs. Wine cabinets line the walls and the hotel hopes to be able to rent the lockers out to patrons who wish to store their private stocks there. Details are complicated and hazy, though, so call if you're interested.

Off to the side of the kissing booths is a small nook containing four oversized leather recliners that will make you reach around looking for price tags, thinking, "How do I get one of these chairs?" The recliners face a satellite-fed plasma TV that can be tuned to sports, movies or used for presentations if the room is rented out for a private party.

All of the rooms in the Q Bar can be rented out for events. Prices depend on a zillion factors (you can assume it's not cheap), most importantly food and beverage.

In addition to an upscale selection of booze, the bar serves a brief but pleasantly appetizing menu of nibbles and noshes. According to Jung, "We didn't want it to be a full-service restaurant but we wanted people to be able to have finger foods while they were having their cocktails." The dishes are small enough to make good snacks and expensive enough to keep them that way—you'd have to spend more than you'd like in order to really fill up. But the flavors are good and dishes like duck taquitos with mango salsa, a citrusy ceviche and mini hamburgers hit the spot. The dessert menu is alluring—with passion fruit soufflé and an exceptional bread pudding made from croissants—to make the place a good after-dinner destination.

In short, Q bar feels fancy and even though most of us love Q (you know, Albuquerque) because it's so low-key and laid back, sometimes it's fun to get dressed up and go out someplace kinda fancy.

The Q Bar is located inside the Sheraton Old Town Hotel (Rio Grande north of Mountain, 843-6300). It is open Mon-Thu 4-11 p.m., Fri-Sat 4 p.m.-1 a.m. and Sun 4-10 p.m.