Oak on Camelback brings laid back fine dining to central Phoenix

When Robert Bogart graduated from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute in 2001 he knew he wanted to stay in Arizona to open his own restaurant. It didn’t happen as quickly as he wanted having gone to Denver to become executive chef at Elway’s Steakhouse at The Ritz- Carlton before heading to Temecula, California to open two restaurants. He decided that 2019 would be the year he returned to Arizona in pursuit of a restaurant to purchase. By early 2020 he decided that the popular central Phoenix restaurant St. Francis was the place. Not long after taking ownership not only did the pandemic hit but so did a kitchen fire. Now almost 2 years later after navigating the restrictions of Covid and a re-branding Bogart’s opened Oak on Camelback.

Oak on Camelback

Chef Bogart has introduced his globally inspired menu while keeping a few favorite dishes from St. Francis. He’s also kept the wood burning oven as the centerpiece of his cooking at Oak on Camelback. Wood fired cooking by the fire with his grandfather in Texas is where he found his love for cooking and with a wood fire. New menu items include Scallop & Risotto, a Banh Mi Pho Dip and Thai Peanut Salad. Dining at brunch you’ll see the likes of Lox Pizza and Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast on the menu. He continues to use high quality seasonal ingredients that compliment his cooking techniques.

Oak on Camelback is at 111 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix 85012. Hours are Tuesday – Thursday from 3 p.m. – 9 p.m., Friday 3 p.m. – 10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. For more information and to view the menus visit 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.

Grand Canyon Brewery & Distillery’s RTD are the states best selling

The William’s brewer & distiller started distilling Ready to Drink (RTD) in 2019 and in 2021 their the state’s largest producer of locally made RTD’s. Their current line-up includes Orange Blossom Vodka Soda, Prickly Pear Vodka Soda, Orange Blossom Vodka Mule, Cuba Libre and Gin & Tonic. Look for them at Safeway & Total Wine. For more information see their website or check Beer Finder to find out where to get them.

Best of Downtown Tempe stroll happening Saturday Aug. 28th

Foodies can spend Saturday afternoon strolling Mill Ave. and the surrounding neighborhood’s best restaurants tasting & sipping on food & drinks. From 1 – 5 p.m. over 15 restaurants have created special dishes for the day for between $8-$10. Several locally owned specialty retailers are also participating. To get your $5 access pass and more information visit their website.

Bandanas for Humane Society at Z’Tejas this weekend

The southwestern cuisine restaurant with a location in Scottsdale & Chandler is supporting National Dog Day all weekend selling special dog bandanas. Each bandana is $15 and proceeds are being donated to the animal friendly non-profit.

Blue Adobe Grille taken over by Vicino’s Local Italian, will close for quick re-model

The Santa Fe style restaurant open since 2000 looks to be now owned by the owners of the nearby popular Italian restaurant. Vicino’s says Blue Adobe will be closing Monday August 30th and re-opening for dinner on Friday September 3rd after new floors, walls and kitchen equipment are installed. A new drink list and more advantageous happy hour menu coming soon after.

The Prime Rib prix-fixe is back at Paul Martin’s American Grill

Every Monday – Wednesday get 3 courses of seasonal house salad, slow roasted prime rib & chocolate cake for only $39.95 at the Scottsdale restaurant. To make a reservation follow this link.

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.

Rusty Spur Saloon celebrates its 70th anniversary with new owners

Walk through the swinging doors of Scottsdale’s Rusty Spur Saloon and you have an idea of what life was like in the good ‘ol days of early Arizona life. As the oldest bar in Scottsdale celebrates its 70th anniversary it also celebrates a new group of local owners to keep the legendary bar going the years ahead.

Housed in what was Farmer’s Bank of Scottsdale the building was built in 1921 and renovated in 1951 and has been given historic landmark status and the safe is no longer filled with money but beer and liquor. Its other claim to fame is it can be a stop for country music superstars when the pull into town. Blake Shelton, Toby Keith, Post Malone and others have been known to stop in for a drink and to listen to some country music.

Former owner Susan Anderson wanted the new owners to be local and have the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it attitude”. She found that attitude in full- time Arizona resident and new owner Bill Toole, who also owns Red, White & Brew, 32 Shea, Bill’s Grill and Lakeside Bar & Grill. “Our company mantra is ‘Local Places, Happy Faces’ and the Rusty Spur Saloon embodies this to a tee. The previous owner, Susan, did a fantastic job honoring and elevating the legacy of the Rusty Spur Saloon over the past 19 years. We’re humbled by the opportunity to lead this historic business into the future,” said Toole.

The Rusty Spur Saloon serves lunch 7 days a week and live entertainment during the days and nights. The saloon is at 7245 Main St. Scottsdale 85251. For more information, to see the menu and hours visit their website.

Atlas Bistro owner takes over AZ Wine Co. renames it Atlas Wines

The once legendary AZ Wine Co. is no more as Todd Sawyer, owner of the award-winning Atlas Bistro has bought the boutique wine shop. After several months of re-modeling Atlas Wines is reminiscent of AZ Wine’s early days of mid 1990s.

The original AZ Wine Co. has played a big part in the local wine community as it was one of only a few places in the Phoenix area to get hard to find wines and Arizona made wines. Young wine geeks would shop the aisles, read labels, speak with knowledgeable staff and even “try before you buy” wines. Restaurateurs, future sommeliers, chefs and more knew they could find good wines at reasonable prices at the south Scottsdale shop. As time went by the valley grew, wine became mainstream and consumers would start to buy wine at big box stores or other wine shops/bars closer to home.

I had a first-hand look as I was an early employee at AZ Wine Co. learning about wines and becoming a resource to regular customers or someone just stopping in for a gift. To this day have friends I met working their and bump into customers around town asking for wine advice and reminisce about the good ‘ol days.

Gone are the living room sofas, rows and rows of wines, storage space and large wine bar. Sawyer reduced the square footage by 2/3rds and got rid of dead inventory and hopes a local restaurant will take over the left over store front.

Atlas Wines compliments Atlas Bistro

The wine shop plays an integral part to Sawyer’s Atlas Bistro as the small restaurant doesn’t serve wine and the wine friendly menu had customers bringing their own wine (BYO) or buying a bottle or two at AZ Wine. It was a no brainer for him to take over the shop to compliment the restaurant as he was sharing the wine buying for several years. Local wine geek Jock Wulffson continues to help Sawyer with wine buying and with customer relations. Wulffson himself is well known in the local wine community as he’s been involved with local wine & food groups and owned his own wine shop before coming to AZ Wine Co.

Customers will still find food worthy wines from across the globe from reputable wineries and lesser known, small production wineries. Craft beers from Arizona along with imported and domestic beers are available in the refrigerator. Several hundred labels are on shelves from everyday drinkers at under $20 to highly rated and sought after wines costing the price of a monthly car payment. The small wine bar will pour a selection of wines and beers once Covid-19 restrictions allow for.

Sawyer hopes to be re-opening Atlas Bistro in the near future for dinner and once opened it will provide European styled appetizers at the wine bar.

Atlas Wines is at 2515 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale 85257. (480)423-9305. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram or see their website.

 

Salut Kitchen Bar owner shows his European flair with new look

When Romain Lauro bought Salut Kitchen Bar two years ago he brought with him over 25 years of restaurant experience. For the Lyon, France native his love for food came early, at the age of 3 and easily as Lyon is the capital of the food world. Much of his life Lauro worked for his father serving ice cream at young age then taking over at his father’s fine dining restaurant Comme en Provence. He sold the restaurant after 20 years to fulfill his dream of coming to the United States.

“As a longtime restaurant owner in France, I am committed to bringing the elements of the high-quality dining experience to Salut Kitchen Bar,” said Lauro. “From adding new lights to changing the interior to a light, relaxing color scheme, I want Salut to be a place guests can enjoy an affordable, but delicious scratch made meal in a comfortable atmosphere.”

Salut Kitchen Bar
Saltimbocca di Marsala. All photos courtesy of PBS Studio 3 and Amanda Moore at Evolve Marketing.

What’s new at Salut Kitchen Bar

Salut Wine Bar is known for scratch made Mediterranean and American cuisine and been awarded “Best Wine Bar in Tempe”. Known for bruschetta, salads, sandwiches, gourmet tapas and an extensive wine list from around the world.

Most changes guest will see are to the interior and exterior of the restaurant. Wood accents, new lighting, landscaping and more will give guests an excellent wine and dining experience. Chef Trayton Hutchinson oversees the kitchen and makes sure the food is up to Lauro’s high standards.

Salut Kitchen Bar offers daily lunches for $9.99, daily happy hour from 3 -6 p.m. and weekly specials. Wednesday’s give guests the opportunity to choose a bruschetta board or Salut sampler & a bottle of wine for $25. Weekend brunch is offered from 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Salut Kitchen Bar is at 1435 E. University Dr. Tempe 85281. For more information and to stay up to date on weekly specials visit their website.

 

Kazimierz Wine Bar gets new life with wine, whiskey and a new owner

Everybody was surprised to wake up in October to hear that Kazimierz Wine Bar had closed the night before. The iconic wine bar in downtown Scottsdale was a favorite “speakeasy” for the wine crowd and fans of live jazz. The bar gets a new lease on life this week as restaurateur Tommy Plato takes over the space opening Kazimierz Wine and Whiskey Bar.

Plato founded The Gelato Spot and owns Second Story Liquor Bar around the corner from Kazimierz. The atmosphere will be the same but guests will see a new decor, furniture, a VIP area and whiskey program.“Peter was a pioneer in Old Town and what he created here with Kazimierz in this space is exactly what Scottsdale needs,” said Tommy Plato.  “I’m excited to keep this tradition alive but with an updated twist on a high-end establishment where you can go to have after-dinner drinks, light bites and great live music all night long in an upscale environment that caters to wine and cocktail enthusiasts,” said Plato.

New menu at Kazimierz Wine & Whiskey Bar

Happy hour will be offered daily from 4 – 7 p.m. and a new full menu will be available until closing. Plato will introduce a new chef, menu and Whiskey Ambassador Program when the Kazimierz opens on Thursday, January 24th.

Kazimierz Wine Bar
All photos courtesy of Rose+Moser+Allyn Public and Online Relations

The new menu will include charcuterie plates, bruschetta, oysters, flatbreads and more. Ingredients will be sourced from local purveyors including Noble Bread and Chula Seafood. Desserts are Plato’s strong point from his experience at The Gelato Spot.

Whiskey selections

Over 100 wines and 500 whiskeys, bourbons, ryes offerings from the U.S., Scotland, Ireland and Japan will be available. Included will be hand-picked selections and rare bottlings.

“Kazimierz Wine and Whiskey Bar is the perfect blend of good food, upscale atmosphere and the best wine and whiskey selection in Old Town. I am so excited to bring a new late-night concept to a familiar place that has had an incredible following for many years,” said Plato.

Kazimierz Wine & Whiskey Bar is at 7137 E. Stetson Dr. Scottsdale 85251. 480-495-3004

 

 

 

 

Business as usual at TEXAZ Grill as owner decides to sell

Rather than closing restaurants as owners move on they are finding new owners to keep them up and running. Yesterday I posted about The House Brasserie getting new owners, today TEXAZ Grill has a new owner.

After 33 years owner Steve Freidkin was ready to move on but didn’t want to close his famous Phoenix restaurant. Selling almost a million Chicken Fried Steaks and Texas style food new owners, the Nguyen family don’t plan any changes.

The new owners

The Nguyen’s moved to Arizona in 2007 from Houston where they immigrated to in 1989. They have been longtime fans of the restaurant ever since and are looking forward to taking it over.

“Our entire family is excited to take the reins at TEXAZ Grill and continue the proud traditions started by Steve Freidkin and Jim Mitchell way back in 1985,” says Long Nguyen. “Most important, we want TEXAZ fans to know their restaurant is in good hands, and we look forward to serving up Phoenix’s best steaks, chicken fried steaks and more for another 33 years.”

Long time staff and management will stay in place to continue serving comfort classics like steaks, chili and BBQ.

Former owner

Friedkin will stay on board with the new owners through November and will then become a customer.

“After three plus decades as owner, chief cook and bottle washer at TEXAZ Grill, I’m ready to ride off into the sunset,” says Steve Freidkin. “But first I had to make sure that my staff and our customers, who are both like family to me, were all in great hands. It was very important to me that TEXAZ remains a family run restaurant.”

“The staff makes TEXAZ Grill great, and I know that they will have the same friendly service and use the same recipes that we’ve had for the past 33 years, including chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, TEXAZ Red Chili, pecan pie, and more.”

TEXAZ Grill is at 6003 N. 16th St. Phoenix 85016. www.TEXAZGrill.com

The popular House Brasserie is under new ownership

Scottsdale’s The House Brasserie changed ownership recently with the new owners looking to continue serving great food and service. Opened in 2012 by chef Matt Carter, Brian Raab and Terri Ellisnor it became one of old town favorite restaurants. It got its name because it’s housed in the second oldest house in Scottsdale.

New owner Joseph Ieraci, an ASU graduate, has the restaurant industry in his blood as a 2nd generation restaurateur. Ieraci returned to the valley from his native southern California in search of a restaurant but not just any restaurant. “My wife, Julie, and I absolutely fell in love with The House Brasserie because we could tell it had been hand-built and run with a lot of love.” Ieraci was attracted to the unique location of the house which is surrounded by patios, tall trees and a cozy inside dining room.

Head Chef Brandon Jedd stays with Ieraci continuing to serve global inspired dishes using gourmet ingredients and French cooking techniques. Jedd has been overseeing kitchen operations at The House for several years after starting as a line cook.

“As hard as it was for us to say goodbye to The House, we’re so excited it’s in great hands with Joseph Ieraci and chef Brandon Jedd,” says Brian Raab. “With the success of The Mission in Downtown Scottsdale as well as at Kirkland Commons, plus Fat Ox, it just made sense to have a single owner-operator who can give this amazing restaurant the attention it deserves.”

Ieraci will bring back the seasonal weekend brunch but for now is serving dinner Tuesday – Sunday from 5-10 p.m.

The House Brasserie is at 6936 E. Main St. Scottsdale 85251. For more information visit their website.

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