When I wrote about new executive chef Russell Lacasce taking over the kitchen at the Hotel Valley Ho’s flagship restaurant Zuzu back in Dec. I wondered what direction he would take the restaurant. I now know as Lacasce has introduced his first dinner menu since arriving at the Zuzu in January. A few restaurant bloggers and myself had the opportunity to taste several of the new menu items and speak to Lacasce and other members of his culinary team.
“I wanted the new menu to be very approachable, while offering dishes with complex combinations of flavors and textures that diners might not expect,” said LaCasce. “Everything is fresh and seasonal, with a strong focus on showcasing our amazing local farmers and purveyors.” Several of the Zuzu’s previous American comfort food staples are still available in the lounge.
Chef Russell Lacasce new menu items
The new menu includes dishes that perfect for sharing and include….
Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Tartare with spicy chicharones, Avocado mousse, Heirloom tomatoes, with a local Feta and shallot buttermilk dressing. This small plate tasted fresh with a hint of spice and a nice touch from the crispy chicharone.
The Burrata has a creamy and smooth texture and the addition of pickled strawberries & toasted pistachios give it flavors you’d be hard pressed to find on other plates of Burrata around town.
The Hokkaido Scallops comes three to a serving separated by one of the more unique ingredients I’ve found recently, fried Meyer lemon wedges. Both are served over a bed of toasted cous cous & pine nuts and drizzled with a shellfish butter. The scallops practically melt in your mouth and citrus flavor and crunch from the Panko crusted fried lemon may have made me a scallop convert. This dish is not to be missed by scallop enthusiasts.
The entrée we tasted was the item on the whole menu that raised my eye brow when I read it…..Baker’s Bacon Chop. A 20 lb. back bacon loin that is house carved, cured, smoked and honey lacquered prior to being plated. Served with green harissa, burnt orange, fresh herbs, pickled chiles and pork rinds. All I can say is WOW! A loin of crispy back bacon will give a whole new meaning to bacon. It’s also great for those who prefer gluten-free dinners.
What’s next at Zuzu
At the same time the dinner menu debuted in early May, Lacasce introduced a lounge menu and new dessert menu from pastry chef Audrey Enriquez. In coming weeks he will be rolling out new breakfast, lunch and brunch menus for diners to sink their teeth into. If his first menu is any indication of what’s to come in June we should be pick a day now, circle on the calendar and plan to check out Zuzu.
It’s 10 days until we can kiss 2016 good bye and welcome the excitement 2017 will bring us. Those that like to ring in the new year in style can find plenty of places around Phoenix to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Below is a list of several restaurants that are offering dinner on the big night.
Pomelo at The Orchard
Chef Javi Perez will be serving dinner from 5pm – 10pm on New Year’s Eve with limited seating for the prie fix menu. The cost is $120 per couple with 2 glasses of Veuve Cliquot champagne included. To make reservations call 602-633-2600.
Starters (one to share)
Calamari & Shrimp Fritti—Crispy calamari and shrimp served with pomodoro and buttermilk dressing.
Chef’s Board—Assortment of cured meats, artisanal cheeses with toasted baguettes.
Wedge—Half head of iceberg lettuce, bleu cheese buttermilk dressing, crispy bacon, hard-boiled egg and tomato confit. (suggested wine pairing) Saint Louis Sancerre | 2014, Loire Valley
Specialties (one per person)
New York Strip *MR—(12 oz.) angus beef grilled over Arizona Mesquite served with shrimp in a parmesan sauce, seasonal vegetables and scalloped potatoes.(suggested wine pairing) Poggio alla Guardia Super Tuscan | 2012, Tuscany, Italy
Short Ribs—Braised to perfection served with a peppercorn demi glaze sauce and served with seasonal vegetables and mashed potatoes (suggested wine pairing) Milbrandt Merlot | 2014, Columbia Valley, Washington
Salted caramel cookie—Warm salted caramel over shortbread cookie served with vanilla gelato, chocolate sauce and fresh strawberries. (suggested wine pairing) Veuve Clicquot Rose | NV, Reims, France
Pomelo at The Orchard is part of The Orchard PHX, a two acre venue located at 7100 N 12th St. in Phoenix. http://www.pomelophx.com
Sorso Wine Room
North Scottsdale’s Sorso Wine Room will offer 2 seating’s for their celebration at 6:30 & 8:30. Chef Paige Murphy will prepare a 5 course prie fixe menu with a wine or beer pairing. The cost is $100 per person and includes tax & gratuity. Additional bottles of wine are 1/2 all night. To make a reservation call 480-951-4344. The menu may include the following….
Zuzu will over 2 seatings at 5:30 for $75 per person and 8:00 for $95 per person for a 3 course dinner. Those who attend either dinner are invited to a complimentary rooftop Champagne toast at midnight. Tax, gratuity and alcohol are additional at dinner.
A few of the options for dinner include a choice of a starterhttps://www.hotelvalleyho.com/hotel/hotel-events/new-years-eve, entrée and dessert from a special menu. Delicious options include Lobster Bisque with crème fraiche and brioche croutons, Herb Roasted Wagyu Beef Striploin with roasted fingerling potatoes, and Huckleberry Crème Brulee.
EVO ends 2016 with a 4 course Italian feast starting 4pm going til 2am for $55 per person. The menu below will be the only menu served on New Year’s Eve and those in the bar can order a la carte. To RSVP call 480-265-9814.
3 seatings will be available on New Year’s Eve at Joe’s Midnight Run in central Phoenix. 5:00 & 7:30 seatings are $65 per person and the 10:00 seating is $75 per person and will include party favors and a champagne toast. Reservations can be made by phone at 480-459-4467 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening Course: Choose 1
Pulpo-grilled fingerling potatoes, paprika oil, garlic and lemon
Scottsdale’s iconic Hotel Valley Ho recently has made a change in its culinary operations and has named Russell LaCasce as executive chef effective January 2nd, 2017. LaCasce comes from Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa where he was the executive sous chef where he worked closely with executive chef Beau Macmillan since 2010.
LaCasce found his passion for food and cooking 20 years ago while working in Charleston, South Carolina before moving to Park City, Utah to learn the service side of the restaurant industry.
After moving to Scottsdale in 2006 he attended the Arizona Culinary Institute and went to work at T. Cook’s at The Royal Palms Resort before heading to the other side of Camelback Mountain to Sanctuary on Camelback. While at T.Cook’s he worked with executive chef Lee Hillson and rose the p.m. sous chef position.
At Hotel Valley Ho LaCasce will oversee all aspects of the hotels culinary operations including the hotel’s restaurant Zuzu, in-room dining, catering and banquets.
“We are delighted to have Russell as our new executive chef. His reputation for delivering creative and flavorful cuisine coupled with his ability to lead his culinary colleagues made him the perfect fit for this key position. We are very much looking forward to seeing how he influences ZuZu and all of our culinary operations,” said Ronen Aviram, the hotel’s general manager.
LaCasce replaces executive chef Charles Wiley who has moved to the soon to open Mountain Shadows Resort in Paradise Valley where he will be the executive chef. Wiley will continue to be director of food and beverage for Westroc Hospitality which has developed and manages Hotel Valley Ho, Sanctuary on Camelback and Mountain Shadows.
If you’re a last-minute planner, don’t feel like discussing current events around the dinner table with family & friends or you just don’t feel like cooking there’s still time to make a reservation at Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale for Thanksgiving dinner. Whether you prefer a variety of traditional holiday fare or unique dinner items there’s room at the table for you.
Thanksgiving dinner buffet in Sands
Serving from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. this classic Thanksgiving buffet will include all your favorites including a slow roasted turkey stuffed with chorizo cornbread stuffing, all the classic side dishes and homemade desserts. In addition diners can give thanks for chilled shrimp, crab claws, roasted brussels sprouts with bacon and a pomegranate reduction and more. The buffet is $59 per adult & $19 per child plus beverage, tax & tip.
A la carte menu in Zuzu
Zuzu will be serving its seasonal menu along with turkey and all the trimmings from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Reservations are recommended for both dinners and can be made by calling 480-421-7997
One of the benefits of living in the Phoenix area are the great sunsets and scenic views that surround us, throw in cold beer at the end of the day and you’ve got it made. With the that in mind, Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale will be kicking off their “Rooftop Beer Garden” series on Thursday Nov. 17th on their 8th floor Sky Line rooftop.
Each rooftop event will have a theme and the first event will be a Tailgate Party with Phoenix’s SunUp Brewing Company. Watch the game between the New Orleans Saints & Carolina Panthers while enjoying tailgate cuisine from the hotels signature restaurant Zuzu that will prepare Lobster Corndogs, Bratwurst, Skewered Bacon Wrapped Top Sirloin and more at 3 tasting stations. SunUp Brewing will be pouring their Horizon Hefeweizen, Vanilla Porter and Trooper IPA with the brew master attending to speak about the beers. Pull up a chair at one of the communal tables and eat at your own pace while you watch the game. During commercials and halftime a DJ will be entertaining the crowd.
Reservations and more
The tailgate kicks off at 5:30 pm and costs $59 plus tax & gratuity and includes food & SunUp beers. A full bar will be available separately. Reservations and payment are required in advance and can be made by calling 480-421-7997 Hotel Valley Ho is at 6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale 85251 http://www.hotelvalleyho.com
Once a month Scottsdale’s Hotel Valley Ho’s Zuzu host’s a “Monday Night Chef’s Table” dinner and for October’s dinner they have invited B.R. Cohn Winery to pair their wines with executive chef’s Chuck Wiley’s 4-course dinner. The dinner will be on Monday October 17th starting at 6:30 p.m. The dinner will also include conversation with the chef along with a representative from the winery.
zuzu dinner menu
The seasonal menu was created specifically to pair with the each of the wines and their nuances and is as follows….
B.R. Cohn winery was founded in 1984 by Bruce Cohn in Glen Ellen, California as an escape from the intensity of the San Francisco music scene. Bruce was involved in running a music studio and later becoming manager for The Doobie Brothers during their rise to stardom in the 1970s. Bruce started making wines at his Sonoma County winery after 10 years of selling grapes to other wineries. While Bruce handle much of cultivating of the vineyards and more early on, he had several up and coming winemakers such as Helen Turley, Merry Edwards and Steve Macrostie make the early vintages. In 1990 Bruce started making olive oil from the olive trees on the estate that is named “Olive Hill Estate Vineyards” and many of his wines have come from that vineyard.