Photos of James Dean, Albert Einstein and Salvador Dali cover the walls. Dali, a painter, was a master of the creative, radical style of surrealism. Einstein, a physicist, may be considered the most influential scientist of the 20th century. Dean, an actor, was known as a rebel without a cause. What do these men all have in common? In their own unique way, all three were renegades — and could not have been more fitting to decorate Renegade Tap and Kitchen, home to the experimental cooking of culinary artist, renegade chef, Aaron May.
Under the leadership of Chef May, Renegade Tap and Kitchen, formerly Renegade Canteen, has transformed into an environment of innovation and class. General Manager Jon McCoy invites “anyone who is looking for elevated, eclectic American fair” to dine at the Scottsdale restaurant.
Upon being seated, my dinner guest and I could not help but survey the conspicuous layout of the restaurant. Renegade is divided into three unique sections entwined by an upscale design and infused with rustic desert décor. A guitar signed by Mötley Crüe mounted the wall beside our table near the bar; a withering metallic sunflower decorated the dining room; outdoor chimneys lined the patio.
My guest and I began our meal with a taste of Chef May’s house special appetizers, green chili pork stew and the PEI mussels. The stew was rich with tender pulled-pork served with warm flour tortillas and smothered in melted pepper jack cheese while the plethora of mussels were mixed with jalapenos, white wine, butter and various spices.
Upon finishing the appetizers, our waiter Nick suggested the roasted beets salad, a medley of red, gold and candy-striped beets, topped with horseradish, celery and sherry vinaigrette. It was a dish too unique to pass up, and it exceeded my expectations. The salad was exceptionally fresh and doubled as a palette cleanser to prepare us for the main course.
We next indulged in the red snapper and the pan-roasted duck breast. Garnished with braised red cabbage, served on top of mustard spaetzle, the succulent poultry dish was indicative of a Western European meal. Directly from the American gulf coast, the fresh snapper was complimented by quinoa, sweet potato and red chile vinaigrette.
I sat and contemplated with my dinner guest how I could possibly find room for dessert; however, I could not contain my desire to taste Chef May’s irresistible sweets.
A few minutes later, a decadent Velveeta cheesecake and house-special Renegade bread pudding sat before us, waiting to be devoured. The warm, gooey bread pudding melted the cold ice cream served atop the mouthwatering dish while the classic cheesecake competed with the likes of any conceivable comfort food.
Reclined deep into my chair, staring at empty plates, I desired to loosen my belt a notch or two. Everything, from Renegade’s creative configuration to Chef May’s lavish dishes, was spectacular. I left Renegade with only one concern: How in the world will I be able to eat tomorrow?