Sips & Bites: News from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Dia de los Muertos Festival at Cien Agaves

The newly re-modeled restaurant and bar in Old Town Scottsdale is showing off its new look this Sunday, October 30th. From 1 – 4 p.m. festival goers can taste 15 different agaves, enjoy live music & get a swag bag. Capacity is limited and tickets are $30 and can be purchased here.

Tommy V’s hosts The Carlton Winemakers Studio dinner

Next Thursday, November 3rd the Scottsdale restaurant hosts a 5-course dinner paired with wines starting at 6:30 p.m. Red & white wines will be paired with Shrimp & Tuna Wheat Ceviche, Hazelnut Risotto, Braised Short Ribs and more. Seats are a $135++ and reservations can be made by calling the Scottsdale restaurant at 480-427-2264.

Trinchero Family Estates wine dinner at The Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar

Tara & Travis Rawlings purchased Moon Valley’s Aiellos and Isa’s Pizza in May and changed it to The Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar making some changes to higher quality ingredients and adjusted the menu to regional Italian. They host a six course dinner featuring Italian wines from the California based wine company on Wednesday, November 9th. They’re offering two seating’s at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. for $125++. You can reserve your spot for this memorable evening at their website.

Blue Hound Kitchen welcomes a new chef and new menu

Executive Chef Alex Robinson joined Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails at Hotel Palomar in August and hit the ground running working on a new menu. The menu and new cocktails from Clint “Spotty” Spotelson debuted in early October and features chef’s signature BHKC 900 Hot Stone with Australian Wagyu or Yellow Fin Tuna, Net of  The Sea, Roasted Airline Chicken Breast to name a few. Cocktail highlights include the bourbon based Stealth Bomber, Open Sesame with black sesame infused George Dickel rye and Pedro Conejo, an interesting combination of liquors, carrots and lime.

Halloween weekend around Phoenix

There are too many spooky events to mention this weekend around the Phoenix area. Look and you’ll find spooky cocktails, costume parties and more at your favorite restaurants, bars and breweries. Have fun and be safe!

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Zach Hunter joins Pedal Haus Brewery as Culinary Director

Pedal Haus Brewery recently announced the hiring of Michelin starred Chef Zach Hunter as its new Culinary Director. Hunter is no stranger to the Phoenix restaurant scene as he attended Arizona Culinary Institute before working at restaurants in Spain, NYC and Austin. The Illinois native came to Pedal Haus from Fox Restaurant Concepts and had previously worked at Wildfish in Scottsdale.

One of Hunter’s first tasks was to update the brunch menu at the downtown Phoenix location with the Chandler and Tempe locations to see the updated menu in the next couple of months. He will also focus on updating the menus frequently, beer pairing dinners, using more seasonal & locally sourced ingredients and spend more time 1 on 1 & mentoring the other chefs at Pedal Haus. Guests will find new dishes such as PB&J Sticky Buns, Smoked Short Rib Hash, Fried Chicken & Belgian Liege Waffles and more on the new brunch menu.

“Zach is an incredible chef and brings an impressive amount of experience and expertise with him. We’re excited to have him join the Pedal Haus family,” said Julian Wright, founder and CEO of Pedal Haus Brewery. “We look forward to elevating our food menu to match our expertly crafted beers and offering something unexpected to our guests.”

The career of Zach Hunter

After graduating ACI, Zach worked at Mugaritz in Spain and Atera in New York City where both were awarded two Michelin stars. From there he headed back out west to Austin where he was part of the research and development teams at Chef Tyson Cole’s acclaimed Uchi and Uchiko restaurants, before working at the namesake restaurant of James Beard award winner Paul Qui. At Qui, he was an important part of creating the multi-course menu in the restaurant’s tasting room.

He then went to Ausin’s Brewer’s Table as executive chef and learned about pairing beer and food. He was named Rising Star Chef of the Year by CultureMap Austin and the restaurant was named Restaurant of the Year by Austin Monthly Magazine.

“I’m thrilled to join the Pedal Haus family and work closely with our amazing teams to evolve and elevate our culinary program,” said Hunter. “I’m so excited to dive in head-first with my passion for hospitality and cuisine that seamlessly connects food and beer!”

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

New menus debut at Zuzu

The signature restaurant at Old Town Scottsdale’s Hotel Valley Ho recently debuted the new menu from Executive Chef Russel LaCasce. Hotel guests and locals can choose from a Steak & Potato Skillet, Strawberry Crème Brûlée French Toast, the Hot Hot Chicken Sammie and more on the everyday brunch menu.

The dinner menu now includes Grilled Portuguese Octopus, a Slow Braised Pork Shank, Pan-Seared Diver Scallops and more. Save room for the Blood Orange Panna Cotta, Double Dark Chocolate Cake and other desserts from new Pastry Chef Maria Arenas. Reserve your table by calling 480-421-7997.

3rd Tuesday Dinner next week at Romeo’s Euro Cafe

The popular cafe in downtown Gilbert still has seats left for its monthly dinner on Tuesday, April 19th. The three course dinner is paired with wines from around the world to complement each dish chosen by his staff. The dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. and reservations can be made by calling 480-962-4224.

Eat Up Drive In celebrates its 1st anniversary

Starting Monday, April 18th through Sunday, April 24th the Arcadia restaurant will be serving up iced teas, lemonades, including their new seasonal cucumber lime lemonade, French fries and their famous gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, all for just one dollar each.

After a 2 year hiatus Foodstock is back next weekend

Over 55 food trucks will be heading back to the Peoria Sports Complex for the return of Arizona’s favorite food truck festival. The family friendly event is next Saturday, April 23rd from 4-10 p.m. Admission is $5 with children under 12 getting in for free. The event is a collaboration between Get Local Arizona Events and Peoria Diamond Club with all the proceeds from the gate going to feed hungry children in the west valley.

Huss Brewpub ready to open at Phoenix Convention Center

It’s been a long 2 plus years that I wrote about the local brewery opening in downtown Phoenix and a longer four years of planning for co-owners Jeff and Leah Huss. It’s about to pay off next Wednesday, April 20th on Monroe St. between 2nd and 3rd St. on the Convention Center’s north facade.

As part of the celebration one lucky winner will win a “Season Table at the Brewpub”. The winner and 3 guests will enjoy a table for 24 games with the reservation guaranteeing them a table during busy times. The winner will be announced on Monday, April 18th on social media in time for the Phoenix Suns playoff rally.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails debuts new dishes & cocktails

I made my first visit to Downtown Phoenix’s Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails recently as it launched its new food & cocktails menus in late August. The signature restaurant inside the Hotel Palomar welcomed new Executive Chef Brian Peterson who created the new dishes with his culinary team. Peterson’s “New American Cuisine” offers Starters & Shareable & entrees that include a curated beef program.

“The menu is very approachable and made with the freshest, all-natural, quality ingredients that are seasonally sourced from the area’s best local farmers,” said Chef Peterson. “The vibrancy and energy of our downtown Phoenix location is exhilarating and we are thrilled that our neighborhood restaurant is in the center of it all.”

My dinner at Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails

I started with a “Sicilian Summer Spritzer” from the Seasonal Cocktails menu to go with our Starters. The Maker’s Mark, Averna, Cardomano, Lemon & Soda libation reminded me of a Long Island Iced Tea from years past and I could had a second or third of this refreshing cocktail. One of the first to offer “craft cocktails” other signature cocktails include the Blue Hound Signature Old Fashioned, Buffalo Tears, Red & Smokey and more with an emphasis on bourbon & whiskey. Craft beer on draft & in bottle and wines are also available. My photos can be found on my Instagram, @SandyWass.

My dinner guest and I started with the Mushroom Pate with carrot jam, pickled onions & charred toast points. All was good with the carrot jam having the most flavor. We also shared the Beef Cheek Poutine with cheese curds, giardinerra & bone marrow gravy. The look to be house cut fries could’ve been a bit crisper but still  it’s a nice twist on a favorite from north of the border. Other dished that sounded good but not ordered on this visit were the Rolled & Fried Chicken Thighs and the Charred Octopus.

My guest ordered the Iberico Secreto (Iberico, the Wagyu of Spain ham, fatty shoulder meat) with bbq fennel, Pt. Reyes grits & cherry mustrda for his entree and he was happy. I went with Chef’s Cut of The Day which was a 16 oz. Rib Eye with Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese chips, spinach & mushrooms. A nice outside darkness and rare-medium rare middle was a filling piece of beef. Then BHKC burger sounded good as did the duck breast. We finished our meal with a dessert special of Homemade Pound Cake with espresso gelato and caramel sauce. The cake was thick and dense, not you mom’s pound cake.

Feeling adventurous then “Trust the Team” with a five course dinner on the whim of the culinary team. A wine and cocktail pairing can be had with this dinner option.

For more information and to see the menu visit the Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails website.

 

 

Maynard J Keenan expands kitchen & hires chef at Scottsdale tasting bar

With the success and popularity of his Merkin Vineyards Osteria and Merkin Pizza Wagon in Cottonwood, owner & winemaker Maynard J Keenan gave the go head to expand his Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale tasting room. Keenan also hired Executive Chef Steve Zimmerman to take the helm of the new Morello Forni Cupola Dome wood-fired oven, imported from Italy and revamp the menu.

“Our dishes feature ingredients grown in our Northern Arizona greenhouses, gardens, and orchards, and we supplement with produce sourced from local Arizona growers,” said Maynard J Keenan. “Merkin Vineyards farm-to-table, vine-to-glass concept is the cornerstone of our success, and it’s a concept we intend to continue developing.”

The award-winning Zimmerman comes to Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale after a career in hotel restaurant management in his home state of Missouri and most recently at Tres Kitchen & Bar ion Tempe. “He’s the perfect culinary artist for our vision,” states Keenan.

The menu at Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale

The new menu includes ingredients from Merkins farm, citrus grove and orchard in the Verde Valley with additional ingredients sourced from local vendors and artisan producers. The new menu changes on a regular basis and includes many seasonal ingredients for its pizzas, pasta, salads and more. The Classic Margarita Pizza, the Calabrian with chorizo, schinken, bacon, calabrian chiles, fig jam and fontina cheese and the Crucifixen, features Merkin farm cruciferous veggies, roasted garlic, Parmesan spread, fresh mozzarella and fontina cheeses are part of the core menu.

Lasagna Cupcakes, gnocchi and Cacio e Pepe shows off Zimmerman’s creativity and attention to detail. Appetizers, charcuterie and few desserts round out the menu which can be paired with any of Merkin Vineyards Four 8 Wineworks and Caduceus wines along with their mead, cider and Puscifer sparkling wine. To see what I’ve tasted on several visits to Merkin Vineyards Old Town check out my Instagram feed.

Merkin Vineyards is located at 7133 E. Stetson Dr. Scottsdale 85251. Hours are Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more information and to see the menu check out  merkinoldtownscottsdale.com.

Second Story Restaurant & Liquor Bar hires exec chef Matthew Kassman

Glendale native Matthew Glassman has been named to run the kitchen at downtown Scottsdale’s Second Story Restaurant & Liquor Bar. Glassman returns to the valley after graduating the Culinary Institute of America followed by stints at some of the best restaurants in Napa Valley and New York City.

“The culinary world is a small one and over the years I’ve heard so many great things about The Second Story Restaurant and Liquor Bar and especially the food. It’s a quaint place and the kind of place where I will really be able to develop something special,” said Kassman.

Second Story Restaurant and Liquor Bar

Kassman honed his old world cooking techniques with world class chef Thomas Keller at his Michelin starred restaurants Bouchon, Per Se and The French Laundry. He was working at the latter in 2020 when Covid hit and he came home to Arizona. At Second Story, Glassman plans to use regional ingredients and a modern touch to such dishes as Caesar salad, steak cooked over Binchotan charcoal with house cut steak fries and more. He’s a fan of bourbon and whiskey and looks forward to pairing them with his awe inspiring dishes and for special dinners.

Seccond Story is at 4166 N. Scottsdale Rd. above The Gelato Spot and is open Tues. Sun. at 4 p.m. – close. For more information and to see the full menu check out their website.

 

 

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Bring your favorite pooch to Morning Squeeze on August 26th.

Celebrate National Dog Day next Thursday at the popular breakfast & lunch spots locations in Scottsdale, Tempe & downtown Phoenix. Bring them by the restaurant for a free house-made biscuit or something else from the Tail Waggers menu. $.99 Mimosas for you, dog lovers.

Wine Tasting Wednesday Wine at The Mick

One of the best restaurants to open in 2020 is Scottsdale’s The Mick Brasserie & Bar and every Wednesday they host a tasting, usually wine, starting at 6 p.m. Chef Brent (check out my podcast with Brent) creates a special menu for the night and prices do vary week to week. Next Wed. Aug. 25th they’re doing a sake tasting, Sept. 1st- Chardonnays from around the world. Sept. 8th- South African wines, Sept. 15th– Winemaker from Smith/Deveraux Winery Sept. 22nd– Four Peaks Brewery. Visit their website for more information and to see their menu and other up-coming events.

The Buzz Eatery now open in Kierland Commons

After a soft opening in the spring the breakfast, lunch & early dinner spot is now open. Catch a “buzz” from their selection of coffee drinks, wine, cocktails & adult popsicles while enjoying bagels, acai bowls, baked goods, treats and more from their breakfast and all day menu. They open at 7 a.m. Mon. – Sat. & Sun at 8 a.m. and close daily at 7 p.m. For more information and to see the menu check out their website.

Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row adds new dishes to the menu

The Gilbert location added 7 new dishes recently from new Executive Chef Dustin Cooke. Sweet Chili Cauliflower, Bourbon Glazed Wings, Truffle Mushroom Burger and Maple Almond Salmon are few of the rock star dishes.

FRANCINE celebrates its 1st anniversary with new cocktails

The French inspired Mediterranean restaurant in the luxury wing of Scottsdale Fashion Square added new cocktails available through the Fall & Winter. The French Connection, an infused rum and St. Germain cocktail, Summer Thyme, uses a Silencio Mezcal base. Le Jardin combines Citadelle gin & yellow chartreuse San Remo is a premium whiskey-based cocktail and Archies Nightcap starts with Botanist Gin & Averna Amaro. All cocktails were created by bartenders Frank Soldano, Gage Myette, Trevyn StClair with the help of Executive Chef Brian ” Chef Archie” Archibald.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast, Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Fresh Taste Meal Prep partners with Waste Not

The Arizona non-profit for over 30 years has been helping restaurants with creating sustainable food programs and prevent food waste. Its primary mission is to help restaurants get perishable food to those who need it before it goes to waste. Waste Not helps those in need, restaurants and the planet.

The Craftsman Cocktails & Kitchen host Bourbon dinner

Seats are available for the north Scottsdale restaurant’s 4-course dinner on Sunday August 15th. Seats are $100++ with event starting at 5:30 p.m. Guest will be able to purchase bottle of Small Batch Bourbon at 25% off for the evening. Tickets can be purchased at their website.

Riot Hospitality Group hires Culinary Director Dustin Cooke

The owners of El Hefe, Farm & Craft, Hand Cut Chophouse, & Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row hired Cooke to oversee the groups culinary management and menu creation. With over 20 years experience in San Diego and Phoenix, Cooke will oversee 11 venues in Arizona, Tennessee and Illinois. His “out of the box” creations have won taco festivals so we’ll see what he has planned.

Macayo’s Mexican Food offering Chimi Fiesta celebration

From August 8th til September 21st the restaurants signature dish, the Chimichanga is being featured in various flavors. Dating back to 1946 the classic Chimi will be served in a Mini Chimi Trio, Chicken Poblano Chimi, Chipolte Pork Chimi, Verde Shrimp Chimi and a Mini Chocolate Chimi for dessert. For hours and to find a Macayo’s near you visit their website.

Make a weekday reservation, get a free dessert at Hand Cut Chophouse

Go to OpenTable or call the restaurant to make a reservation for a Sunday – Thursday dine-in experience and get a free Local Cheesecake, Butter Cake or Apple Berry Crumble. The promotion goes until Labor Day, September 6th and reservations can be made here or call 480-494-2008 and mention offer to get dessert.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast, Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

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.

Jared Porter named Director of Culinary Operations at Pedal Haus Brewery

Fork & Dagger Hospitality, the company that owns Pedal Haus Brewery has announced they’ve hired valley chef Jared Porter as Director of Culinary Operations. Porter oversees all food operations at the Tempe and Chandler brewpubs and at a new Phoenix location opening in 2021. His responsibilities include menu development, sourcing of ingredients and management of the culinary team.

“As a longtime Valley resident with deep ties to the culinary community, it is an incredibly exciting opportunity to join Julian Wright and the Fork & Dagger Hospitality team as they continue to grow their influence on Arizona’s food and beverage landscape,” Porter said. “I am looking forward to being a part of the already award-winning team at Pedal Haus Brewery as well as all future concepts within the hospitality group.”

The culinary resume of Jared Porter

Jared Porter started his culinary career over 20 years ago attending the Art Institute of Phoenix on a full scholarship. After graduating he worked at high profile restaurants Vincent’s on Camelback, Michael’s at The Citadel and Fiamma at The James Hotel. He’s successfully helped open La Grande Orange Grocery, Olive & Ivy and his own Clever Koi in 2013. Most recently he’s been executive chef at Buck & Rider.

“We are honored to have Jared bring his extensive culinary expertise to our hospitality group to further enhance our restaurants’ menus and culinary experience,” said Fork & Dagger founder and CEO Julian Wright. “His depth of knowledge has already proved invaluable and we are thrilled to have him join our team as we continue to bring more great restaurants to the Valley.”

The award-winning brewery is popular with beer enthusiasts since opening their Tempe location in 2015. Under Brew Master Derek Osborne they’ve won a gold medal at The Great American Beer Festival and named Best Brewery in the United States at the 2019 Copa Cerveza de Americas. Over 32 gold medals and awards have been earned by the brewery for their beers.

 

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