Upscale Mexican restaurant Toca Madera has opened.

A year and a half after I posted about it, the upscale Mexican restaurant Toca Madera has opened at Scottsdale Fashion Square. The Madera Group from West Hollywood is behind Toca Madera and its sister restaurants, the quick casual Tocaya Organica. Tocaya has two locations in the Phoenix area at Kierland Commons and next door to Toca.

Sashimi Mexicano

Co-founders Tosh Berman and Amrou Manaseer spared no expense at the 8,000 square foot Toca Madera. A lush courtyard with a retractable roof for patio dining leads to the dining room with the exhibition kitchen. Natural light from skylight breathes life onto the Ficus trees in the restaurants. A lounge with full bar is located off the courtyard serving signature margaritas and cocktails.

“At our Scottsdale location, we want guests to feel as though they’re stepping into another reality,” CEO Berman said. “From the sophisticated design to the theatrical spirit through which we serve food and beverage, every element has been precisely chosen to provide an unparalleled dining experience. The community has been incredibly supportive since opening Tocaya next door so we’re excited to introduce another one of our concepts to the area.”

Baja Rosa

Executive Chef Joseph Castillo comes to Toca Madera from the nearby Sushi Roku at the W Hotel. Castillo, a native of southern California goes from upscale sushi and Japanese food to an upscale Mexican cuisine. His culinary team creates signature dishes such as Enchiladas de Mole, Tiger Shrimp Tacos and Pescado de Dia (seafood of the day).

Dinner starts at 5 p.m., the lounge opens at 4 for happy hour and weekend brunch begins on November 9th. To view the menu and for more information check out https://www.tocamadera.com/

 

Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row rolls out all day menu

A new all day menu was rolled out at the downtown Gilbert location of Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row earlier this month. The new menu offers lighter and healthy options which include vegetarian and seafood dishes among popular favorites.

all day
Buffalo Cauliflower

New dishes include spicy Buffalo Cauliflower, Spinach & Berry Salad, Roasted Chicken Primavera and Grilled Salmon Jambalaya. Fans of the Tennessee Hot Slider, Fried Pickles and Southern Fries don’t need to worry as those guilty pleasures are still on the menu.

The American gastropub has also extended it happy hour to run all day Monday – Friday. Food and drinks specials start at 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. During Sidewalks Fridays they’ve extended happy hour until 9 p.m.

Salmon Jambalaya sub grilled shrimp

Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row is at 323 N. Gilbert Rd. Gilbert 85234. To see the full menu head to their website.

Middle of the week fun and exploring in Harwich Port

Mid-week on the cape finds laid back days at the beach and exploring what goes on around Harwich Port. Waking to foggy and humid mornings for coffee and my morning walk lead to sunny and warm days.

Tuesday was a beach day and lingering around town before heading to dinner in Dennis Port at The Oyster Company. A family favorite for dinner we shared quite a bit of oysters, Portuguese and Bangkok mussels and more for appetizers. Still needing to get my fill of lobster I went with the Lazy Man Roasted Lobster. The stuffed lobster with crab meat stuffing satisfied my craving for the local delicacy.

Harwich Port
Nauset Marsh

Fun and adventure around Harwich Port

Wednesday had us checking out a few attractions within a few miles from the house. Stopping at Cape Cod Lavender Farm was new to me and had me enjoying the aromas of one of my favorite scents. From there we needed to keep my 10 year old niece happy going to the go-kart track and bumper boats. The adults acted like kids as we all had fun trying to beat each other around the track and getting soaked on the bumper boats. A fun afternoon of playing like a kid.

Dinner had us going to the highly rated Buca’s Tuscan Roadhouse in Harwich Port. Plenty of shared appetizers including polenta, charcuterie, proscuitto wrapped artichokes and Aracini had me practically full before our entrees arrived. A grilled romaine salad before my Buca’s Bolognese arrived had me packing up it after only a few bites. It made for a great breakfast the next couple of mornings with the wild boar ragu spread on crispy bread leftovers for my homemade breakfast bruschetta. A breezy sunset made for a great after dinner walk on the beach and through town during its weekly festival with live music and more.

Gorgonzola & Bacon Burger at Mooncusser’s Tavern

Kayaking the marsh

Thursday brought out our adventuresome side with a 3 hour guided kayak tour through the Nauset Marsh. After meeting up with Matt of Cape Marsh Kayaking we made our way with the outgoing tide towards Nauset Beach. Paddling through the marsh Matt pointed out native birds looking for fish. Did you know there is no such specie as a “sea gull” as it’s a general term for the gulls found in and around the water.

Arriving at the beach 70 minutes after of paddling we had time to explore the beach and watch the seals bathing in the sun and poking their head out of the water to greet us. Before heading back Matt taught us about the different kind of clams, scallops and horseshoe crabs found in the area. Horseshoe crabs are related to spiders more than they are crabs. Paddling back to the boat launch made for quite the workout as we were paddling into the outgoing tide.

Getting hungry

Working up quite the appetite after kayaking we headed up Route 6 to Arnold’s Restaurant in Eastham. Packed with families getting their fill of fried seafood for lunch, my Wedge Salad with lobster meat was well earned. Hanging by the pool for a little while it was time to freshen up for dinner at Mooncusser’s Tavern.

Steamers at Arnold’s Restaurant in Eastham

Mooncusser’s is a inn and tavern built in the 1700s for retailer Jordan Marsh and his family. Mooncusser’s were land pirates who destroyed lighthouses and set fires on the beach so ships would run a ground to be robbed of their cargo.

My nephew and I shared an appetizer of PEI Mussel Dijonaise followed by my duck infused Gorgonzola & Bacon Burger. The first burger I’ve had on the cape in several years was delicious topped with the melted blue cheese, Crimini mushrooms, Cabernet caramelized onions, garlic aioli and smoked bacon. Saving room for dessert we made our way back to Schoolhouse Ice Cream for the homemade sweet treat.

Heading home from Harwich Port

Friday has us packing and getting ready to head out for the 5 hour drive down I-95 to NJ for the weekend before I head back to Scottsdale. Another great week on the cape full of fun, adventure and eating.

To see more of my visit Follow me on Instagram @SandyWass

Back exploring food and more in Boston and Cape Cod

If you’ve followed this blog for a few years you would’ve seen a post or two from my visits to Cape Cod. Well I’m back for another visit by way of Boston for the week to escape the Arizona heat. After my first 3 days I have enough to tell you about from my morning in Boston to the days on The Cape.

Breakfast in Boston

I flew into Boston early Saturday morning and was greeted by my friend who re-located from Phoenix to the Boston area 20 years ago. It was pretty early so we decided to head into the city to wake up and made our way to the newly built Seaport District along Boston Harbor. On the south-side of downtown Boston the Seaport District is full of high rise office and apartment buildings, restaurants and attractions. The big attraction for us was the Harbor Walk that led us towards Boston’s North End for breakfast.

Italian market in Boston’s North End

The North End is Boston’s “Little Italy” neighborhood full of narrow streets lined with Italian markets and restaurants. We made our to Theo’s Cozy Corner for breakfast on Salem St. The small cash only breakfast joint serves up traditional breakfast fare at good prices. Eggs, pancakes, etc and good portions Theo’s was full of neighborhood regulars and a few of us outsiders looking to start our day. My friend and I both went with corned beef hash with 3 eggs, home fries and toast. A good choice leaving us both satisfied.

No trip to the North End is complete without a stop at Mike’s Pastry for cannoli for a my mid-morning snack. We also stopped into a traditional Italian market for sliced prosciutto and other meats and fresh bread.

After a walk back along the harbor to the car we headed to the south bay so I could continue down to the Cape.

Saturday and Sunday on the Cape

For years my family has been spending a few weeks every August in Harwichport which is on the south side on Nantucket Bay on a part of the cape that is considered Mid-Cape. A cute town we venture to restaurants to get our fill of fresh seafood. Whether it’s $1 oysters for happy hour at The Port or trying to find the “Best” lobster roll we have our favorites and are always on the lookout for new restaurants to try.

By the time I arrived in mid-afternoon Saturday I was ready to get my fresh seafood feast going. My nephew, brother-in-law and I went across the street to The Port for the $1 oysters from Chatham and Wellfleet. The week before I hear they polished off 90 oysters during one sitting but that wasn’t going to happen on this day as the restaurant was shorthanded with shuckers and we weren’t the only ones there for happy hour. 48 oysters were good enough to satisfy us on this day.

Oysters at The Port in Harwichport

Most days on the cape are lazy with a later start than had I been home in Arizona. Sunday morning started out foggy(the weather, not me) but by late morning the sun was out we’re off to Bank St. beach for a little sand and sun. After a few hours on the beach it was back to relax and decide where to do dinner. We decided it was time to get lobster rolls so we made our way to the Sesuit Harbor Cafe in Dennis. Sesuit on the north side of the cape about a 15 minute drive from Harwichport. Like other “seafood shacks” on the Cape and in New England, Sesuit Harbor Cafe offers fried, broiled or raw seafood. Place your order, find a table outside and wait for the servers bring your food. It’s fast casual before fast casual became a restaurant trend.

Lobster rolls for most of us were served with fries and cole slaw, my nephew went with half a broiled lobster. All were happy as we sat among the sea gulls, marina plotting our next move. We saved room for desert and made our way for homemade ice cream at Schoolhouse Ice Cream in Harwichport.

Sunday or Monday its all the same

When you’re on vacation all the days run together and you realize the work week has begun when the weekenders head back. Not us as Monday has us sleeping in, getting coffee and starting the day. After coffee and my morning walk I made my way to Brew’s Coffee Bar & Beer Garden for breakfast. Disappointing as they stopped serving many of the breakfast sandwiches I remember from 2017.  Only 4 choices to choose from that we’re pre-made and warmed up. My egg and bacon burrito was good but not really worth the $9 I paid for it.

Lunch had me craving fried oysters so I drove down the road to the Original Seafood Restaurant in Dennisport. The place has been around since the 1950s and had the old school drive-in feel. Seafood, burgers, hot dogs and more, my fried oyster craving was fulfilled.

Oyster roll at The Original Seafood Restaurant in Dennisport

After a lazy afternoon walking off my lunch and visiting with family it was time to think about dinner. My nephew and I were on our own and debated which pizza place to go to. The debate was George’s or Ember Pizza and Wings. Ember won out since we’ve never been so we decided to try their coal fired charred pizza. Getting their early before the dinner rush we ordered boneless Buffalo wings which were chicken tenders tossed in Buffalo sauce. Not my idea of wings and going forward I will always order bone-in wings.

Since my nephew doesn’t eat anything green most vegetables were out so we went with the Meat Lovers Pizza. Topped with bacon, sausage, pepperoni and meatballs the thin crust pizza was good and service was good too. Time for a walk and a relaxing Sunday night before we start another day on the Cape.

Check back for more eating adventures and exploring for the next few days. For more images of my trip follow me on Instagram @SandyWass

 

 

 

Maple & Ash to open August 20th at the Scottsdale Waterfront

One of the most anticipated restaurant openings of 2019, Maple & Ash has announced an opening date of Tuesday August 20th. The restaurant will open at the Scottsdale Waterfront and will be the first location after the original in Chicago. Two star Michelin chef Danny Grant and partners opened the first restaurant in 2015, before that worked in Scottsdale.

“This has been an incredible journey, and we can’t wait to open our doors to the Scottsdale community,” said Chef Danny Grant. “It has been a dream of ours to come home to where I began my culinary career and show off the Maple & Ash experience.”

What to expect at Maple & Ash

Maple & Ash uses wood fired cooking and although they don’t use the word “Steakhouse” in the name it’s considered a modern take on a classic steakhouse. Local chef Sean Currid joins chef Grant to execute the menu that includes the famed “Fire Roasted Seafood Tower” and “I Don’t Give a F*K” (IDGAF). The two chefs met when they worked together at Elements Restaurant at Sanctuary Resort & Spa on Camelback.

Guest will enjoy a world class selection of dry aged beef and fresh seafood. The IDGAF is Grant’s take on a chef’s menu and he thinks is the best choice from the menu. No mention of what’s included with the IDGAF so you’ll have to leave it up to chefs Currid and Grant. Currid boasts an impressive resume having worked around town at Michael’s at the Citadel, Zuzu at the Hotel Valley Ho and Mary Elaine’s at The Phoenician.

Sommelier Jason Caballero curates a wine list from around the world that won’t be your traditional steakhouse wine list. Caballero comes to Maple & Ash from Bourbon Steak at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.

The centerpiece of the 10,000 plus square foot restaurant will be the 14 foot wood burning hearth. It will be surrounded by the dining room and lounge along with an outdoor patio and private dining rooms.

Maple & Ash will be open daily at 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. Sun. – Thurs. and until 11 p.m. on Fri. and Sat. The restaurant is at 7135 E. Camelback Rd #130 Scottsdale 85251. For more information visit their website.

Angry Crab Shack to donate money from root beer floats

One of my favorite summer treats is a root beer float and there’s no better way to cool off during a Phoenix summer than with a scoop of vanilla ice cream floating in a glass of cold root beer. With National Root Beer Float Day on Tuesday August 6th, Angry Crab Shack will donate $1 from each float sold to Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

The locally owned restaurant with 8 locations has donated over $100,000 to PCH since 2017 and expects to exceed their goal for 2019.

Visit any of these Angry Crab Shack locations for this summertime favorite and make your purchase count. For more information visit their website.

2808 E. Indian School Rd. Phoenix 85016.

3820 E. Ray Rd. Phoenix 85044.

7608 W. Cactus Rd. Peoria 85381.

3227 E. Bell Rd. Phoenix 85032.

2501 W. Happy Valley Rd. Phoenix 85085.

8253 E. Guadalupe Rd. Mesa 85212.

310 N. Litchfield Rd. Goodyear 85338.

2740 S. Alma School Rd. Mesa 85210.

 

 

 

 

 

Oysters are 1/2 off at happy hour as Ocean Prime re-opens

Popular seafood restaurant Ocean Prime re-opened last week after plumbing repairs and a new look to its dining room. The north Phoenix restaurant located at High Street also added more seating to accommodate the areas growth and restaurants popularity. To thank their patient customers the restaurant is offering 1/2 off oysters during happy hour.

Every Monday until September 16th from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. guests can enjoy a half dozen of the days featured oysters with frozen granita for $13. Pair your oysters with a glass of Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs for $8.50 a glass or $42. 50 a bottle. Enjoy Schramsberg Rose for $10.50 a glass or $52.50 a bottle.

Other Ocean Prime specials include wild and fresh caught Alaskan Halibut($48) paired with Cakebread Chardonnay. The white, flaky fish is in season and is prepared with seasonal ingredients including celery root puree, spring peas, asparagus, fava beans and buttered lobster claw. The fish is finished with a lemon pesto vinaigrette. “The mix of spring vegetables complements the fish well, and the citrus-forward vinaigrette with the lobster elevates the entire dish,” says Ocean Prime Regional Chef Ian Rough.

Beverage Director Andrea Hoover chose the family owned Cakebread Chardonnay for its citrus and orange-blossom flavor profile. “Chardonnay is weighty on the tongue, yet well-balanced with acidity, complementing the dynamic nature of this dish,” says Hoover. The chardonnay is available by the bottle.

From July 31st – August 10th guests can purchase Ocean Prime gift cards online of $100 or more and receive 20% off when using promo code Prime19.

Ocean Prime is at 5455 E. High Street, Phoenix 85054.

What the cluck! Koi Poke now offers chicken for its bowls

Poke the trendy bowl with raw fish, rice and assorted healthy toppings is getting a makeover. At least at Koi Poke as they’re now offering chicken as a protein instead of fish at their 5 Phoenix area locations. Guests can add grilled white meat chicken in three portion sizes to their white or brown rice or spring mix base, Small (4 oz.) $9, Medium (6 oz.) $11 and Large (8 oz.) $13.

Fresh lobster, Yellowtail, shrimp, Hawaiian tuna and more fish toppings are always available.

After adding your protein you can top it with any or all of the toppings available. A few of the toppings include kale, Brussel sprouts, cucumber, jalapenos, cilantro and more. Looking to “sauce it up” you can add teriyaki or house made Sriracha aioli to your bowl and finally garnish it with crispy onions, garlic or other options.

Koi Poke has locations at……

DC Ranch 18221 N. Pima Rd., #100-105, Scottsdale 85255 480-209-1137

Arcadia 4280 E. Indian School Rd., #108, Phoenix 85018 602-368-2222

The SHOPS Gainey Village 8977 N. Scottsdale Rd., #500, Scottsdale 85253 480-306-8440

The Plant 4041 S. Gilbert Rd., #1, Chandler 85249 480-361-6533

Scottsdale Waterfront 7135 E. Camelback Rd., #175, Scottsdale 85251 480-454-4957

For more information check out their website.

Oyster Shucking and a prix-fixe menu at Modern Oysterbar Chophouse

Chances are you probably don’t get many opportunities to shuck oysters living in the desert. Modern Oysterbar Chophouse will show you oyster shucking along with a 5-course oyster dinner.

The week of August 4th – 10th the popular Scottsdale restaurant is celebrating National Oyster Day (Aug. 5th) with a prie-fixe menu for 2. The $80 per couple dinner will include oysters on the 1/2 shell topped with caviar to Oysters Rockefeller.

Modern Oysterbar Chophouse is at 10050 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale 85253

Talavera stamps your passport for a culinary journey this summer

Staying in Phoenix this summer, you don’t have to eat like you are when you head to the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. The resorts signature restaurant, the Spanish steakhouse Talavera offers two unique dining experiences this summer created by Sous Chef Samantha Sanz.

Summer in Seville prix fixe menu for 2

From June 7th – September 1st couples can spend a “Summer in Seville” enjoying wines and captivating dishes from Spanish city of Seville.

The evening starts with a parron of Sangria or bottle of Txakolina, a light and refreshing white wine perfect for summer sipping. Share a dish of tapas and a verduro (vegetable dish) before the main course arrives.

Chef Sanz creates summer version of her signature dish, Paella for the main course. Chorizo Bilbao, prawns, mussels, clams, corn, peas and a flavorful Chermoula verde sauce make up this traditional Spanish meal.

Talavera
Summer Paella

Dine on a Thursday night and enjoy live Flamenco music as you enjoy your meal and view of Pinnacle Peak.

The “Summer in Seville” dinners are served Wednesday – Sunday from 5:30 -9:30 p.m. The cost is $98 per couple.

Talavera features Latin cuisine & cocktails

Chef Sanz creates a one-of-a-kind interactive dinner experience taking you back and forth to South America and Spain for this dinner series.

June 13th- Travel to Brazil and Argentina for a “South American Churrascaria” and dine on tableside carved meats and dishes from live action cooking stations. New world wines from Argentina will be poured as will the classic Brazilian cocktail, Caipirinhas.

July 18th– Head to southern Spain for the “Taste of Andalusia” dinner. Taste the different styles of sherry while enjoying authentic foods of southern Spain. Live cooking stations and tableside dishes will be paired with Spanish wines.

August 29th- Head back to South America for the “Latin Heat” dinner featuring the cuisine of Peru and Colombia. Sip on a Pisco Sour while eating Peruvian Ceviche and a selection of chiles and more.

September 19th- Return to Spain for Basque Country food and beverages at the “Nights in San Sebastian” dinner. Enjoy tapas inspired from the northern Spanish city with cooking stations as you enjoy the cities favorite past time, bar hopping.

Each dinner is $125 per person and include a welcome drink. Reservations for both of dinners can be made by calling 480-513-5039 or visit http://talaverarestaurant.com/

Talavera and the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North is at 10600 Crescent Moon Dr. 85262