Tag Archives: dining review

Searsucker Scottsdale

Searsucker Scottsdale's New American Dishes With A Twist Are A Hit

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.

The restaurant

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 Searsucker Scottsdalewas 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.

The menu

Searsucker’s menu, divided into categories like Bites, Smalls, Greens, Ocean, Ranch and Farm, Searsucker Scottsdaleconsists of classic New American dishes with a twist.

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.

The most popular cocktail? The Indian Summer. You can’t get more American than this with its fresh-pressed apple Searsucker Scottsdalejuice mixed with Grey Goose La Poire — delicious!


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.

Main entrees

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.

Searsucker Scottsdale

Where: 6900 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale
Contact: (480) 664-3777
Online: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Brick logo

An Enticing Escape: Brick Restaurant In The Arizona Center

Tucked away in the hustle and bustle of Downtown Phoenix sits an enticing restaurant with a seductive menu to match. Dark wood tables, leather lounge chairs and armoires attribute to the restaurants intimate scene. Hanging vintage chandeliers and deep red curtains transport you into another world. Feet away from the numerous downtown sky-scraper buildings resides the restaurant Brick in the Arizona Center.

As a Southern California native and new resident to the Phoenix area, my search for the perfect balance of comfort, fun and good food seemed never-ending. This search came to an end, however, when I discovered Brick after a girl’s day luncheon.

It was a Sunday afternoon. The three of us were ready to satisfy our appetite for girl talk, good times and good food. The Arizona Center, tucked away in the corner of the busy downtown streets, sits like a small cluster of buildings of a Lego city ― precisely placed to contrast itself immediately from the humdrum of office buildings, commuter commotion and work-day rush. We walked into the center, and I found myself immediately transported to another world, an eclectic world of food shops and activity. The choice of restaurants was endless. There is a restaurant to satisfy every taste bud: Greek, Mexican, American, Japanese, Italian and so on.

We pondered what to eat for a minute and found ourselves at the entrance of the seductive restaurant that sits tucked away in a corner of the center. Brick sits with its doors open, offering a peek into a different dimension. Dark red velvet curtains line the brick walls of the restaurant, and deep red candle votives adorn the mahogany tables. Vintage chandeliers and vivid art give the place a contemporary, yet warm feel.

We were seated at a corner table near the outside patio with a view of the center’s fountain outside.  The menu made our mouths water, and I spent a while deciding what to order. Offering everything from salads and sandwiches to calzones pizzas and burgers, the menu is as enticing as the atmosphere. Brick also hosts a hip and savvy bar, which offers an extensive selection of wine beer and infused drinks. It was lunch on a Sunday afternoon, so I decided on a calzone, my first ever, and a glass of sweet Moscato to accompany it. I was blown away not only by my dish, but that of my friends as well. They indulged in their pizzas and wine until their stomachs were content. The atmosphere was warm and comforting, so our girl talk came with ease over our delicious food. The restaurant is set so that every party is intimately connected, and the setting allowed us to hold our private conversations without being deprived of good service.

Brick’s menu offers a variety of food and drinks to satisfy every taste bud. The restaurant aims to offer patrons a relaxed atmosphere without feeling rushed and an opportunity to enjoy a delicious menu without breaking the bank. The restaurant in The Arizona Center is perfect for afternoon luncheons, big group get-togethers, intimate dates or even just a quick escape from the chaos of the city. Being only a block, literally, from everything I do in the city, any chance I get, my inner hippie and I find a way to escape to Brick.


Where: Arizona Center, 455 N.  Third St., Phoenix
Price: $$ (from $5 to $15)
Contact: (602) 258-3665
Online: brickphx.com


Renegade Tap and Kitchen

Renegade Tap And Kitchen's Chef May Serves Unique, Eclectic Cuisine

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?

Photos of Renegade Tap and Kitchen:

Renegade's Green Chili Pork Stew, Photo: Renegade Tap and KitchenRenegade's outdoor patio, Photo: Renegade Tap and KitchenRenegade's Big Burger, Photo: Renegade Tap and KitchenRenegade's Dessert, Photo: Renegade Tap and KitchenRenegade's Charcuterie, Photo: Renegade Tap and Kitchen

Renegade Tap And Kitchen
9343 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale
(480) 614-9400
TK's Urban Tavern

TK's Urban Tavern: Fantastic Food In A Trendy, Sophisticated Atmosphere

I have to admit that when it comes to Kierland Commons, Scottsdale Quarter and CityNorth, I have a hard time keeping up with what is new and where it is located within the three similar destinations. A friend of mine recommended TK’s Urban Tavern located in Scottsdale Quarter, and I was looking forward to checking out the new hot spot.

Named after the founding owner, Tom Kelly, TK’s offers a comfortable atmosphere and an expertly placed patio, perfect for taking in the Quarter and enjoying cocktails.

Joining a friend for an impromptu Saturday evening dinner, we headed to TK’s to sample what they have to offer. The restaurant has a trendy, sophisticated feel with an open dining room. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable, willing to confidently recommend their favorite dishes.

Initial observation of the appetizer and drink options revealed a nice balance of pricing and options without being overwhelmed by a 10-page menu. Warning: The description of the “You Call It” Smirnoff Vodka accompanied with your favorite mixer for $6.95 was not as it seemed. After commenting to the server that it was a great deal, my friend ordered a Raspberry Smirnoff and soda. It wasn’t until the bill arrived that we were made aware that we were charged much more for flavored vodka. Of course, it could be argued that we should have known. However, I feel it is the responsibility of the server to pay attention to what the guest is commenting on to ensure that they understand the menu appropriately. Aside from the vodka miscommunication, the drink prices were reasonable, and the options were plentiful and provided something for everyone.

A summary of what we experienced at TK’s Urban Tavern:

Appetizer: Housemade Mac & Cheese

With a good choice of unique appetizers, we chose to start with the Housemade Mac & Cheese ($7.95). Made with local white cheddar, elbow pasta and topped with panko bread crumbs, I found the dish to be a bit bland in flavor. Once we added some much-needed salt and pepper, the taste was actually very good.

Entrées: Shrimp Linguini and Rock Shrimp Corn Chowder

Although on the pricier side, there were great options available for our main dish. I chose the Shrimp Linguini served with tomatoes, garlic white wine sauce and lemon parsley ($17.95). I was blown away by this dish! The lemon and garlic complimented the shrimp beautifully. The portion was appropriate and overall fantastic.

We also ordered the Rock Shrimp Corn Chowder ($8.95). Unlike many types of chowder, the TK’s version wasn’t super thick and heavy. The chowder was light and full of flavor. We were also impressed by the amount of shrimp included in the chowder, making it an overall great choice when you visit.

Dessert: Root Beer Float

It brought a smile to my face to see a root beer float option for dessert — I couldn’t resist! Simply served with vanilla bean ice cream in a large chilled mug, it was a great way to end our meal ($4.00).

Overall, the visit was enjoyable. The look and feel of TK’s makes it a good choice for an evening out in Scottsdale if you are willing to spend a little more than normal for a relaxed meal. I was happy with the quality of the food for the price I paid, but would not recommend it as a regular stop for anyone on a budget.

TK’s Urban Tavern Rating:

Food: 4 out of 5
Service: 3 out of 5
Atmosphere: 5 out of 5

TK’s Urban Tavern
15037 N. Scottsdale Rd., #J-195
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
(480) 664-0873