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Truly 'Prime'
Friday, 11 November 2011
Photos by Wes Naman
Sandwich meats and ingredients at breakfast, lunch and butcher shop are a cut above
By Lindsey Little
Sandwich shop experiences rarely begin with a clean-cut waiter in a tuxedo escorting guests to the table. At Prime, however, the concept of prestige is taken very seriously. High-end sandwiches are gaining in popularity in the Duke City, and at Prime, they are worth every penny.

Building off of the success of Vernon’s Hidden Valley Steakhouse, this southwestern style delicatessen and specialty food shop was opened in April by the same owner, Michael Baird, in a Los Ranchos de Albuquerque location directly behind the popular Albuquerque speakeasy steak joint. Prime is not a competitor of Vernon’s, but an ideal and meaty complement of the already successful restaurant.

Prime is a full-service butchery offering freshly cut meats and creamy cheeses, combining the two to create gourmet sandwiches that burst with flavor. I must admit from the beginning: I am a sandwich fanatic. I eat, sleep and breathe sandwiches. There is always a wealth of options and an abundance of flavors incorporated into each delicious, meaty and cheesy meal. From paninis to open-faced, I’m hooked.

The quirky combination of paper menus, fancy tablecloths and a deli counter was enticing on my recent visit to Prime, and piqued my interest even more. I was grateful that the Prime menu presented options that form to any preference, with hero sandwiches served on a freshly baked hoagie, warm breakfast paninis at $9 a piece, as well as hot lunch paninis, soups and salads.

One of the most popular options on the menu is the Kitty Kat Club. This is one of those meals that tastes as good as it looks, a triple-stacked sandwich that even the largest mouth can barely wrap around. But with good reason. The moist, buttered white bread is jam-packed with turkey, ham and pancetta along with Swiss and sharp cheddar cheese. The sliced meats and cheeses are complemented by a pesto mayo that pulsates with delightful hints of garlic. The pancetta in the sandwich is delightfully crispy — Italian bacon that is salt cured and seasoned. With a less smoky flavor than regular bacon, this allows foodies to enjoy the crispness of the pancetta and intensity of the seasonings, while never missing out on the rest of the sandwich. With one layer of ham and one layer of turkey, each bite exceeds all expectations and, in my opinion, is highly superior to the rest of the club sandwiches in Albuquerque.

Arranged perfectly on red and white checkered paper in a red deli basket, each sandwich is served in a way that reaffirms Prime’s role as a sandwich shop. After ordering the South Side Panini, this basket was a perfect way to capture all of the extra fixings that fell from the heaping shaved prime rib sandwich. The ingredients of sautéed mushrooms, gruyere cheese, autumn-roast green chile and prime rib were piled generously atop herbed focaccia bread and served beside a warm au jus sauce. The incredibly tender meat was cooked medium rare and was delicious, to say the least, but the bread was slightly overwhelming due to its thick cut, diminishing the flavor of the sandwich. The au jus was an essential aid, however, balancing the sandwich with just the right amount of saltiness and essence, while the mushrooms helped to produce a satisfying moistness. A premier sandwich, this will satisfy your senses well.

ImageThe side options are red potato salad and potato chips. The chips were great, but as a zealot of potato salad, I was very impressed with Prime’s rendition of this admired dish. The herb dijon aioli was the beginning of my obsession and the preparation of the celery, onions and cornichons created an excellent texture and flavor. This creamy potato salad with well-cooked potatoes incorporates egg and crispy prosciutto into a flawless dish.

Prime also features breakfast items like the Sunrise Panini with pancetta, gruyere, egg and melted muenster, as well as the Quiche of the Day, which is served on a bed of spinach and green chile béchamel with papas. Another delicious lunch panini is the Angry Sicilian — capicola ham, pepperoni, genoa salami, olive tapenade, tomatoes, banana peppers and buffalo mozzarella.

Don’t forget the dessert tray that offers a variety of ever-changing sweets.

The butchery also offers prime beef cuts, lamb and deli meats. Also enjoy specialty cheese, wines, brews and spirits on their rustic and contemporary patio, or take them to go for a night at home.

This exceptional delicatessen is one-of-a-kind and is now in the running as one of the best sandwich shops in Albuquerque. Prime’s unique and original combination of flavors are bound to please.

Village Shops at Los Ranchos

6855 4th NW, 505.890.9150
10a-6p, Mon.-Fri., 9a-3p, Sat.-Sun.
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