Peter Kasperski returns to the valley’s dining scene with Character

2020 brought many surprises good and bad to the valley’s dining scene. One of the biggest surprises was the return of restaurateur Peter Kasperski in December. He and valley mixologist Richie Moe III have again joined forces to open Character Distinctive Dining in the Roosevelt Arts District. The two have known each other for over 30 years going back to their days in Chicago when Moe’s father was Kasperski’s mentor.

Moe helped Kasperski open Cowboy Ciao in the 1990s then Kazmierz Wine Bar before they went their separate ways. Moe had gone on to open and run cocktail programs at Citizen Public House, The Gladly and Bourbon and Bones. Kasperski has been lying low the last few years plotting his next move since he closed Cowboy Ciao.

Photo courtesy of Modern Vision Media

Downtown Phoenix’s Character Distinctive Dining is a classic American dinner house with cuisines from around the world made using modern cooking techniques. Kasperski’s love for eclectic wines and Moe’s inventive cocktail list have also made their way downtown from Scottsdale. Some will see similarities with Cowboy Ciao especially the popular dinner events. One of those events is the monthly Somm Showdown with Peter Kasperski and a local wine sommelier go head to head picking the best pairings for a five-course dinner. The first Somm Showdown is Sunday January 24th 2021 with Synergy Fine Wines’ Steve Cannon. Seating is limited to 30 people and dinner is $90 ++ per person.

The pair are also opening Alias, a speakeasy, later this year out back of Character. Three nights a week Moe and Chef Justin “Red” Hauska will create mixology/gastronomy dinners pairing cocktails and food with science and surprises. After dinner starting at 9 p.m. Alias will become a craft cocktail bar until 2 a.m.

Character / Alias is at 218 E Portland St. Phoenix, AZ 85004. For more information check their website, Facebook and Instagram.

 

A new culinary team takes over when Ghost Ranch re-opens.

When the popular south Tempe restaurant re-opens in mid-January guests will see new faces in the front and back of the house. Executive Chef David Mora, Sous Chef Tyler Moonsoo and Pastry Chef Lisa Graf are new culinary team and General Manager Ashleh Robles runs the front of the house.

Mora will run the kitchen was born in Colombia and raised in Florida where learned to love the diversity of food. He started his restaurant career in Miami before making his way to Arizona. He’s worked at Flagstaff’s Copa Cafe, Mariposa in Sedona and was sous chef at Palo Verde and chef de Cuisine at The Spotted Donkey at The Boulders in Carefree. “I’ve spent more than a decade exploring the complexity of southwest cuisine and I am thrilled to bring what I’ve learned to Ghost Ranch,” Mora said. “I know the restaurant has quickly become a staple in the Tempe community and I hope to continue serving the area authentic dishes with innovative twists.”

Sous Chef Monsoo will help Mora develop and execute the dishes of Ghost Ranch. He has over 15 years of experience in Arizona at The Boulders, Ah-So Sushi and Steak, Obon Sushi and Ramen and Wrights Kitchen at The Arizona Biltmore from Waldorf Astoria.

Pastry Chef Graf rounds out the new culinary team. A native of Colorado, Graf draws inspiration from traveling as a teenager through Europe, learning and tasting local foods. Back in the states she re-located to Santa Fe, New Mexico to launch her culinary career as a pastry chef. After earning her pâtissier certificate she ran pastry programs at James Beard Foundation recognized restaurants La Boca and the Compound. She’s also worked at Mama’s Fish House in Maui and Scottsdale’s Roka Akor and Hotel Valley Ho.

Tempe native Robles takes over as General Manager running daily operations and administration. Starting her career in the hospitality industry at 17 she’s dedicated her career to to customer satisfaction and enjoyment. Her experience in psychology, finance and event planning give her know how to continue to keep customers happy. Customers will notice her creative cocktails, menu pairings and attention to detail in the dining room. She’s worked for more than 10 years in in several roles in high-end lounge, club and bar settings around town.

Ghost Ranch is at 1006 E. Warner Rd. Suite in Tempe. For more information visit their website.

Barrel & Bushel to open with the Biggest Patio Party

A new downtown eatery will be celebrating its long anticipated opening January 22nd with a big party. The “Biggest Patio Party” goes from 3 – 7 p.m. when Barrel & Bushel opens at the corner of 2nd St. & Adams welcoming the neighborhood with an all-day happy hour and more.

“Barrel & Bushel welcomes locals as the newest neighborhood hangout,” said General Manager Danielle Klus. “There’s something for everyone, whether you’re a beer fan, cocktail aficionado or just looking for a great meal in a casual yet buzzy environment.”

Chef Chelsea Cummings menu offers American comfort food with her personal twist. Dishes such as 72 Hour Pork Belly, Waffles & Ribs and a Bloody Mary Burger should make this a popular eatery in downtown Phoenix. At the bar you’ll find 11 Arizona beers on tap along with creative craft cocktails including “Tell Your Friends”. The unique cocktail features basil infused gin with St. Germain and peach. Deep selections of bourbon, rye & whiskey will also be offered.

During the Biggest Patio Party guests will enjoy complimentary passed bites, happy hour pricing and more. Barrel & Bushel expects to attract not only locals but downtown visitors and convention goers with its laid back atmosphere. The restaurant will offer lunch and dinner along with late night fare.

Barrel & Bushel is at 122 N. 2nd St. Phoenix 85004 and is open daily from 11 a.m. – midnight with happy hour from 3:30- 6:30 p.m Monday – Friday. For more information check out their website.

1/2 off Signature Cuts at Hand Cut Burgers & Chophouse

“Out with the old and in with the new” they say and Hand Cut Burgers & Chophouse is doing just that next week. Tuesday October 1st is not just the start of a new month but the day the restaurant at the Scottsdale Waterfront rolls out its new menu. Most sections of the menu will see new dishes including appetizers, salads, pastas, Signature Cuts (entrees) and dessert. To celebrate the new menu the evening of the 1st give guests the chance to order any of their signature “Cuts” for 1/2 off.

Reservations are highly recommended for dinner that starts at 6 p.m. on this special evening. Select bottles of wine will be 1/2 off during the night as well.

Pesto Pasta. Photo credit Riot Hospitality Group- Aaron Bowman

New dishes

  • Grass Fed Meatballs – Arizona grass fed beef meatballs baked in a red pepper tomato sauce with burrata cheese and served with garlic bread
  • Crab Cakes – Lump crab cakes, fresh herb cucumber salad finished with avocado lime vinaigrette
  • Baby Iceberg Wedge – Baby iceberg, Monforte blue cheese, Campari tomato, pickled shallots, crumbled bacon with a buttermilk basil dressing
  • Vegetable Chopped Salad – Chopped romaine, candied tomato, red pepper, crow’s dairy goat cheese, grilled artichokes and shaved cauliflower in a red wine vinaigrette
  • Beets and Brussels Sprout Salad – Roasted brussels sprouts, golden beets, parmesan cheese, shaved red cabbage, garlic dressing and herb croutons
  • Filet Sandwich – Spice rubbed filet served sliced with melted blue cheese, bacon jam and arugula pesto
  • Bone-in New York Steak –18 ounce Cedar River Farms bone-in, grilled with a side of signature Hand Cut steak sauce
  • Bison Loin – 8 ounce pasture raised bison loin, spice rubbed and served with hibiscus butter sauce
  • Seasonal White Fish – Served sautéed with lemon herb chardonnay sauce
  • Scallops and Mushroom Fettuccine – Roasted wild mushrooms, scallops and egg fettuccine in a white wine mascarpone sauce
  • Crab Mac and Cheese – Lump crab, parmesan cream, cavatappi pasta, chili breadcrumbs and fresh herbs
  • Meatball Mac and Cheese – Cavatappi pasta, red pepper cheese sauce, grass-fed meatballs and crispy basil
  • Fettuccine Genovese– Imported Genovese pesto, parmesan cheese, slow roasted tomato with egg fettuccine
  • Seasonal Cheesecake and Affogato

New cocktails too

Their award-winning cocktail menu will also be adding new cocktails that include two new dessert cocktails. New cocktails include….

  • Barrel Aged Manhattan – Bulleit Bourbon, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth and Angostura Bitters aged in French Oak.  Served up but can be served on the rocks upon request.
  • Scottsdale Sunset – Bombay Sapphire Gin, fresh lemon juice, Simple Syrup, egg white, Angostura Bitters and topped off with a touch of Cabernet.
  • Kir Royale – Poema Cava Brut, blackberry syrup, vanilla Bean, Yucatan Honey Shrub
  • Cold Brew Martini – Fugu Horchata Vodka, Passport Cold Brew Coffee, in house cinnamon syrup and almond milk
  • Key Lime Martini – Smirnoff Vodka, Vanilla Giffard, pineapple syrup, condensed milk, fresh lime juice, finished with a graham cracker rim

Hand Cut Burgers & Chophouse is at 7135 E. Camelback Rd. # 154 Scottsdale 85251. To make a reservation call 480-494-2008.

Mixologist Kyla Dahl brings new cocktails to Taco Guild

Central Phoenix’s Taco Guild restaurant takes the new year pretty seriously as they’ve introduced new cocktails and food. The new cocktails were crafted by new mixologist Kyla Dahl who comes to Taco Guild after spending the last few years crafting cocktails at Scottsdale’s Liberty Station Smokehouse. It was there she learned to make creative cocktails and make a name for herself in the Phoenix cocktail community.

Chamoyada. All photos courtesy of Claire Natalie at Evolve Marketing

New cocktails

Dahl has shaken things up with 7 new cocktails that pair well with Taco Guild’s Mexican food. All the new cocktails are priced at $12 each. Most of the new drinks use tequila or mezcal with a few of the drinks listed below.

      Chamoyada – Chamuccos blanco tequila, hibiscus, orange, mangonada, Tajin.

      Don Juan – Mexican rum, pepitas, lime, lemon, Curacao, dark rum.

·         Ponche – apple-infused gin, mango, orange piloncillo.

Seasonal Mezcal Mule – Mezcal mixed with seasonal flavor, lime and ginger beer

Taco Guild’s new dishes

The new chef driven dishes are spread throughout the menu from appetizers, tacos and dessert. There are 10 new dishes available for lunch and dinner and include…..

Grilled Shrimp Bruschetta – citrus chile shrimp, guacamole, tomato corn salsa on top of house-made bruschetta. $12

Fundido – Oaxaca and Monterey Jack cheese blend with Serrano pepper, caramelized onion, tequila and mushrooms. Guests can now choose to add-on a variety of proteins

The Conquistador – chef’s choice charcuterie and cheese board served with nuts, jam, mustard and house-made bruschetta. $15

Cartel Coffee Beef Taco – Locally roasted Cartel coffee is used to season the beef before slow roasting it then it is topped with fresh jicama, cilantro and avocado. $4.95

Clandestino Shrimp Taco – Citrus-chile marinated shrimp are grilled then topped with avocado, chimichurri and cabbage slaw. $4.95

Chocolate Torte – A rich and dense chocolate torte with cashews, almonds, walnuts, cacao, coconut and sea salt.

Taco Guild is at 546 E. Osborn Rd. Phoenix 85012.