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.

 

Compass Lounge & Restaurant welcomes new chef Brandon Drummond

Chef and new culinary director at the Hyatt Phoenix Brandon Drummond is no stranger to hotel life having worked for Hyatt Hotels around the country for the past 15 years. He come from the Hyatt in Greenwich, Connecticut to run the culinary team at Compass Lounge & Restaurant, Arizona’s only revolving rooftop restaurant.

The downtown hotel is finishing a multi-million dollar facelift and they’ve hired Drummond to re-vamp the menu at their signature restaurant. He brings his experience working in culinary management in the Hyatt family in Washington D.C., Bonita Springs Fla., New Orleans and San Antonio to his new role.

Both the lounge and restaurant will see new dishes including fresh seafood and regional ingredients. In the lounge guest will have the chance to order Buttermilk Fried Quail, a Charcuterie Board and more. The new menu includes Quick Cured Duck and Elk Chops in addition to other new dishes and longtime favorites.

New cocktails include the Strawberry Blonde made with Meyer lemon vodka, house made simple syrup and strawberries. The Bramble Rose mixes Maker’s Mark bourbon with house made rosemary simple syrup and blueberries.

Meet Chef Drummond when he participates in Plated and Staged at the Herberger Theater on Sunday March 29th. The annual fundraiser benefits for the theatre’s youth outreach program. The program exposes youths to culinary programs and the performing arts.

The Compass Lounge & Restaurant the Hyatt Phoenix is at 122 N. 2nd St. Phoenix 85004. Visit their website for more information.