Only at Searsucker Scottsdale is it possible for the food to overshadow the fact that I both shook Brian Malarkey’s San Diego-tanned hand and exclaimed in my starstruck stammer that “Everything is incredible!” at least three times when he made his rounds that typical Tuesday night. As someone who obsessively watches Top Chef (even during my lunch hour if I happen to miss an episode), Searsucker quickly made its way to the top of my “eateries I must try” list.
Nestled on the corner of Camelback and Goldwater, Searsucker Scottsdale has found an appropriate home at Scottsdale Fashion Square. The warehouse-chic interior is comprised of distressed furniture and oversized drum lamp shapes, exposed ceiling beams, lumber-embellished windows, and entwined ropes and light bulbs dangling from fixtures above various tables and seating areas in the restaurant.
Searsucker’s environment alone appeals to a diverse crowd, the restaurant capable of suiting any type of occasion — from a girls’ or guys’ night out to a romantic dinner for two. And I noticed just that during my visit, even mid-week.
But what was most apparent to me was just how comfortable the open environment made me, and the rest of the patrons, feel. The tables were arranged in a way that didn’t make everyone feel as though we were literally rubbing elbows with one another, the lighting was dimmed perfectly, couches were abound, and the music was at a level low enough to hear the person next to you. The only way to complement such a homey atmosphere is by pairing it with comfort food, which is exactly what Searsucker Scottsdale’s menu consists of.
After scanning the menu at least five times over, simultaneously munching on the cheddar-cheese-stuffed and cayenne-seasoned cheddar puffers ($2) served to us upon arrival, I’m almost positive our waitress was familiar with our overwhelmed and indecisive response to the menu and immediately began pointing out the more popular items. Due to the very impressive speed at which she spoke about every possible detail of the dishes, we trusted she wouldn’t let us down, and we opted for her suggestions.
As I slowly made a dent in my Indian Summer, savoring every sip, a large spoon was set on our table, soon followed by our “small bites”: the shrimp “spicy” + bacon grits ($12). This popular appetizer boasts a handful of Cajun-seasoned shrimp swimming in the bacon-buttermilk-and-cheese grits. We finished that so quickly, we could have had seconds and thirds, easily.
Once our plates were taken and my Indian Summer finally came to an end, it was time for our main entrees: the loin “filet” with lobster butter + cognac ($35) and the duck X’s 3 breast + confit + orange ($26). Flavorful and juicy in the center, the hearty filet mignon and its cognac paired perfectly with our two sides — the jalapeno-chorizo “corn off the cobb” ($6) and the fried brussels + walnuts ($7). With the cognac on the sweeter side, the spiciness of the “corn off the cob” complemented the filet well. As for the brussels, which is the most popular item on the menu, these were the most lively, bold and mouthwatering sprouts I’ve ever had. Pair the filet with a cabernet, and you’re set.
The judges’ table
Searsucker Scottsdale was a definite hit for me and my dinner companion. Malarkey may have been a Top Chef finalist, but Searsucker is a winner. But who am I kidding? Head there, and you be the judge.