Save the date: Arizona Restaurant Week is 2 months away

It’s hard to believe we’re closer to the end of our busy season here in Phoenix than the beginning. In the next month spring training fans and winter visitors will head home to wait out the hot Arizona spring and summer. Restaurants will cut back their hours of operation and food festivals will go on hiatus for a few months. Don’t worry foodies we still have 10 days in May of Arizona Restaurant Week to look forward to. Save the date of Friday May 17th – Sunday May 26th and make your reservations soon.

save the date
Oysters at Buck & Rider

Arizona Restaurant Week is when many local restaurants entice new and returning customers with unique 3 course prix-fixe tasting menus for $33 or $44. It’s a great reason to visit a new restaurant or favorite one.

“Arizona Restaurant Week has become one of the most popular dining events in the state,” says Arizona Restaurant Association president and CEO, Steve Chucri. “We are proud to have a hand in sharing our state’s culinary chops with residents and visitors alike, and give our local restaurants a platform to showcase their amazing talents through a fun and creative outlet.”

Many Phoenix restaurants participate as well as restaurants from around the state including Tucson and Flagstaff. Restaurants are being added daily to the list as are their menus being submitted. Here is a short list of a restaurants participating.

Prado

Elements

Hearth 61

Mother Bunch Brewing Co.

Roaring Fork

The Keg Steakhouse + Bar

The Melting Pot

Four Peaks Brewing Company

Dorian

Thirsty Lion Gastropub

The Canal Club

Buck & Rider

Save the date
Dessert at Dorian

If you’re a long-range planner save the date of September 20th – 29th 2019 as Fall Arizona Restaurant Week has been announced.

To keep up to date of restaurants and their menus visit http://arizonarestaurantweek.com/

Opinion: Pump down the volume, why are restaurants so loud?

I consider myself as a blogger a messenger of information about the local restaurant and food community. Posts on food festivals, restaurants opening, wine tastings and on rare occasion my opinion may get in the way based on an experience(s).

Was it Gene Simmons or David Lee Roth who said “if it’s too loud, you’re too old”. I remember me and my sister telling that to our parents as teenagers as we cranked up the radio listening to Van Halen and Led Zeppelin around the house and in the car. Now it’s me that’s too old as I can’t understand why restaurants need to crank it up with DJs or loud music during our dining experience. Loud music is one of  a few pet peeves I have about the restaurant industry.

Recently I visited an establishment for brunch hoping to enjoy several dishes, cocktails and a visit with friends. Instead we were one and done as it was simply to loud to hold a conversation. On weekends it’s the norm in old town Scottsdale and other parts of the valley to wake up to loud music with your eggs bendict and Bloody Mary, but why?

It’s not just brunch you need to bring ear plugs to as were seeing more restaurants turning the volume up during lunch and dinner.

Loud music in restaurants isn’t new.

This trend isn’t new as this Bon Appetit article from 2010 suggests. I guess to a certain demographic loud music says a restaurant is “lively and successful”, to me it means ” you’re not getting my business at this time”. Many articles have been written since then and not just in restaurant related magazines and websites.

This Vox article mentions how the loud decibel level can be a health threat and this 2015 Bloomberg article calls out chef’s and restaurateurs to turn the volume down.

Acoustic technology and a restaurants design have effected the decibel level but the volume dial can cure that on a daily basis.

Good thing the Phoenix area has a diverse community of restaurants so I’ll patronize those offering good food, service and dialed down noise level.

What do you think about restaurant noise levels? Drop me an email or comment about what your restaurant pet peeves are and I may address it.

Picture credit: Seattle Times

Scottsdale restaurants gear up for Russo & Steele auto auction

2019 starts relatively quick here in Scottsdale with many of our valley’s activities kicking off. Before the PGA and MLB take the stage car enthusiasts flock to Scottsdale for 2 weeks in January. Russo & Steele start the auction season off on January 12th at Salt River Fields then Barrett- Jackson returns to north Scottsdale.

Whether you’re on your way to the auction or just bid on your dream car you need to eat and there are plenty of local restaurants on the way.

All photos courtesy of Kassidy McDonald & Evolve Public Relations

Local eateries near Russo & Steele

Within a few miles there are plenty of Scottsdale restaurants to feed all appetites.

Babbo Italian Eatery– 8840 E. Talking Stick Way. Scottsdale, AZ 85250

Fired Pie at Mountain View 9619 N. Hayden Rd. #101
Scottsdale, AZ 85258 Ph. 480.948.0808

Pomo Pizzeria Scottsdale8977 N. Scottsdale Rd.

Fired Pie at Fashion Square Mall. 7014 E. Camelback Rd,
Scottsdale, AZ 85251. Ph 480.874.4203

Hash Kitchen– 8777 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale 85253.

U.S. Egg- North Scottsdale- 7119 E. Shea Blvd. Scottsdale 85253

Headed to Barrett-Jackson

Some of the same restaurants have location further north and can accommodate those heading to Barrett-Jackson at Westworld.

Grimaldi’s at The Scottsdale Quarter.- 15147 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale. 85254

Twin Peaks– 8787 E. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. Scottsdale 85260

BLK Live– 7301 E. Butherus Dr. Scottsdale 85260

Fired Pie at Raintree- 14740 N. Northsight Blvd. Scottsdale 85260.

Fired Pie at Zocollo Plaza– 15425 N. Scottsdale Rd. 85254.

 

 

 

 

Mora Italian ends 2018 with 4 course menu on New Year’s Eve

As Phoenix restaurants fill up with New Year’s Eve reservations diners decide where to dine for a final meal of 2018. Mora Italian offers a 4 course prie fixe menu starting at 4 p.m. The Italian influenced menu offers guests a wide range of flavors from Chef Scott Conant and his culinary team. This will be the only dining option at Mora on NYE.

The modern Italian menu is as follows….

First (choice of)

Radicchio & Endives- blood orange, pignoli, black olives

Porcini & Artichoke Soup- fontina crema, truffle focaccia

Seacat Gardens Little Gem- black truffle & parmesan dressing, anchovy crumble

Second (choice of)

Pasta Pomodoro

Foie Gras Gnudi- masala reduction, crispy duck

Rigatoni Nero- king crab, squid bolognese, bottarga breadcrumbs

Third (choice of)

Beef Shortrib Daube- chestnut zuppa, celery root, parmesan

Roasted Turbot- hazelnuts, capers, tomato, brown butter

Pumpkin Parmesan- black truffle fonduta, frisée, pickled fennel

Dolce (choice of)

Budino- white chocolate, peppermint

Chocolate Torte- pickled blackberry compote, mascarpone gelato

Blackberry Sorbet- saba, basil Genovese

The multi course dinner is $65 per person with an optional wine pairing for an additional $25.

For more information and to make a reservation please got to their website.

Mora Italian is at 5651 N. 7th St. Phoenix 85014 (602)795-9943

 

A Decade of Delicious as Arizona Restaurant Week returns in May

What started out 10 years ago with 93 restaurants has blossomed in to a twice yearly foodie event that is Arizona Restaurant Week. Mark your calendars for the week of May 19th – 28th when the 2017 Spring Arizona Restaurant Week returns with over 150 planned to participate.

Nook Kitchen’s Lamb Shank

The Arizona Restaurant Association started sponsoring the state wide event in the Fall of 2008 to help promote the states restaurant industry and increasing awareness of Arizona restaurants. Diners will have the opportunity visit new restaurants along with favorites who will offer unique 3 course prix-fixe menus for $33 or $44 per person.

Arizona Restaurant Association president and CEO Steve Chucri said, “Arizona Restaurant Week has remained a strong culinary driver to many local chefs and restaurant owners as well as a treasured memory maker for diners. It’s hard to go wrong, and we are delighted to be celebrating ten years of making folks happy.”

Match Cuisine’s Whole Roasted Sea Bream for Arizona Restaurant Week

Arizona Restaurant Week has helped local restaurants become a dining destination for foodies from around the country and the world. Since the 1st Arizona Restaurant Week it has expanded to a Spring foodie extravaganza in 2011 and a Arizona Breakfast Weekend was added a few years later. 2017 Fall Restaurant Week is planned for September 15th – 24th and Arizona Breakfast Weekend will take place from July 27th – 30th will more details to come about the 10 year anniversary celebration in September.

10 restaurants including Don and Charlie’s, Cowboy Ciao, Lon’s at The Hermosa Inn and Roaring Fork have participated in all 10 years.

With a variety of restaurants like Match Cuisine & Cocktails, Mancuso’s, Nook Kitchen, Salty Sow, White Chocolate Grill and all 4 Ajo Al’s Mexican Cafe’s to choose from foodies can expect reservations to fill up quickly so planning ahead is essential. Check http://arizonarestaurtweek.com for participating restaurants and updates of those being added to the growing list.

 

 

Local chefs compete for best burger at Okra Cookhouse & Cocktail’s Burger Battle

Burgers, burgers and more burgers is what’s on the menu the next 4 Sundays in October as Okra Cookhouse & Cocktails hosts a weekly Burger Battle. 6 local chefs will be competing to see who has the created the tastiest burger. Starting this Sunday October 9th and for the 2 Sundays following, diners can watch the fun and taste the burgers created that will be judged by celebrity judges. Each weeks winner will compete on Sunday October 30th to see which chef has created the best burger.

Photo courtesy of Okra Cookhouse & Cocktails
Photo courtesy of Okra Cookhouse & Cocktails

Burger battle participating chefs

Here are the 6 local chefs competing and the schedule with the fun starting every Sunday at 3pm.

October 9th features Kelly Fletcher from the soon to be open Zen Culinary going up against Gio Osso of Virtu & Nico

October 16th has host Cullen Campbell of Crudo & Okra doing battle against Doug Robson of Otro.

Ocotber 23rd pits Justin Beckett of Beckett’s Table and Southern Rail against Upward Projects Chris Newstrom

October 30th is the finals for the 3 winners.

Burger Battle and brunch for C-cap

Okra will also be serving their regular Sunday specials that include all day happy hour, 1/2 off bottles of wine and mixologist Micah Olson will be creating a special cocktail & punch with Tito’s vodka for the Burger Battle. Part of the proceeds from each weeks event will go to C-CAP , a non-profit that helps get young men and women get started in their culinary arts career.

Okra is at 5813 N. 7th St. Phoenix 85014 (602)296-4147 http://www.okraaz.com

 

Hot Rods & Happy Hour at Tom’s Thumb Fresh Market in Scottsdale.

Ford-Mustang

On Saturday June 1st, from 6 p.m. -8 p.m. Tom’s Thumb Fresh Market will be hosting “The Desert Stangs” Mustang Club and invite all to come check out these American classic cars. The cars owner, who are very passionate about the cars, will be happy to talk about their cars. Mustang Club members will get a free car wash between 5:00 -6:00 p.m.

During this time customers can enjoy beer and wine for $1 off while checking out these cool cars. You can also dine at Tom’s Thumb with their award-winning BBQ and southern inspired food.
There is no cost to attend.

Tom’s Thumb Fresh Market at 9393 E. Bell Road Scottsdale 85260 (480)513-8186 http://facebook.com/toms-thumb-fresh-market

Bar Louie shows off new cocktails and food items starting May 15th.

Firecracker Flatbread
Firecracker Flatbread

Bar Louie at Tempe Marketplace is rolling out some new cocktails & menu items. On Wed. May 15th customers can enjoy 10 new wines by the glass and 9 new hand crafted cocktails such as Mango Mojito & The Ramblin rose and Watermelon Margarita. From 6 p.m. – 9.m. on the 15th customers can try these new cocktails for only $2.

The following Wednesday, May 22nd customers will get the chance to taste any of the 9 new food items and when they order 1 they will get another new food item of equal or lesser value for FREE. Some new menu items include Blackened Salmon Sliders, Beer Braised Mussels and Firecracker Flatbread.

With a total of 28 new food and drink items Bar Louie is trying to make the dog days of summer a bit cooler.

Bar Louie Tempe is at Tempe Marketplace 2000 Rio Salado Parkway, Suite 1220. barlouieamerica.com

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse’s Memorable Meal for 2 & Fall Prix Fixe Menu

I recently had the pleasure of joining about 12 other lucky souls who had the chance to taste 2 of Fleming’s Steakhouse new programs and their new release of their own wine 46 Diamonds. We were hosted by Scottsdale’s Operating Partner Michael Head who guided us through our experience. Here is what Flemings has to offer.

We were greeted with a new cocktail just in time for the holidays The Merry Maker’s is made with Maker’s Mark bourbon and Chambord then shaken with orange, pomegranate & cranberry juices. Quite a tasty cocktail and as one guest said “I don’t like bourbon, but I really like this”.

We then proceeded to sample the Fall Prix Fixe menu which consists of
Your choice of Oysters Rockefeller or Autumn Salad for appetizer then for an entree your choice of Veal Osso Bucco or Cioppino. For dessert you get a slice of Dark Chocolate Cheesecake. All were very good and everybody enjoyed what was tasted so far. I really enjoyed the Oysters Rockefeller. The Prix Fixe menu costs $39.95 per person and runs through Jan. 3 2011.

We then moved on to The Memorable Meal for Two which is The Cellar Master’s Filet & Maine Lobster Tail. You start with a Caesar Salad with a King Crab Crostini followed by Filet Mignon & Maine Lobster Tail and a side of Maple roasted baby carrots. For dessert you’re served Carrot Cake with Dark Rum Caramel. I’m not a big carrot cake fan, but this may have changed my mind. All for $99 for 2 dinners. This runs through Dec. 15 2010 so hurry and reserve this soon.

We were also treated to the new release of Fleming’s own wine Forty Six 46 Diamonds. This years bottling is a collaboration with Fleming’s Director of Wine Marian Jansen op de Haar & Schug winery team of Sonoma County. This Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Merlot & Malbec from very reputable vineyards in the Sonoma Valley.It is medium bodied with with good tannins and fruit and showed a very elegant, long finish. A nice compliment to any meal you may be enjoying. Only 388 cases were made of this and can be had by the glass for $16.50 or $65 for a bottle.

Make reservations soon for these limited time specials and even more limited wine.
There are 4 Phoenix are locations and several more throughout the country. 905 North 54th Street, Chandler, AZ 85226 480-940-1900
20753 North Pima Road, North Scottsdale, AZ 85255 480-538-8000
9712 West Northern Avenue, Peoria, AZ 85345 623-772-9463
6333 North Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85250 480-596-8265
http://www.flemingssteakhouse.com/

Welcome!

I know what you’re thinking “uhhh! not another blog about food, wine & restaurants, etc”. That has been my reluctance to do a blog. But after being in wine and spirts industry for over 17 years, I figure “hey, why not an insiders perspective”. So in addition to food, wine & the Phoenix dining scene I will also feature some current events & something new I’ve been involved in of the last few years… film producing. So come and join the party, agree or disagree with me, let me know what you think.
Cheers,
Sandy