Tag Archives: restaurant

Old favorite Steamers has new owners and some new tricks

It’s always fun to visit a new restaurant, but every once in a while it’s just as entertaining to revisit an old favorite — especially one that’s just received a revitalizing jolt in the arm. So is the case with Steamers.

A long-time occupant of the upper level of the Biltmore Fashion Park, Steamers is now under new ownership. Doug Czufin and Bruce Lazarus, who also own the adjacent restaurant Sam’s Café, acquired Steamers late last year and set about changing the menu and freshening the décor.

Change is good, but not if it alienates customers. Fortunately, Steamers should have no problem keeping old customers while still attracting new ones. The Steamers dining room still has its yacht-clubby feel with dark woods and brass accents. The biggest change to the décor can be seen in the bar area, which now has a more modern and streamlined look to appeal to the happy hour crowd of professionals from nearby office complexes.

Another change is the food. Czufin, who also serves as corporate chef, has infused Steamers’ traditional seafood fare with lighter options. One of those new options Steamers is promoting are the lobster lettuce cups, a crispy leaf of lettuce filled with lobster meat, avocado and vegetable slaw. They can be purchased as a lunch menu item or as a dinner appetizer. Other delicious appetizers to choose from include a tuna tartar stack made with yellow fin tuna tossed in a ginger soy sauce and stacked with tomatoes, wasabi guacamole and tossed greens; and the jumbo crab cake concocted from Maryland-style and sweet jumbo crabmeat, baked and served with crème fraiche.

For dinner, you can pick traditional seafood dishes served in new ways. For example, the Chilean sea bass is steamed and topped with a ginger-soy sauce, and it sits on a bed of fresh spinach and white, sticky rice. Sole menuiere consists of a cut of sole lightly dusted, sautéed and placed atop a generous pool of lemon-caper butter sauce.

Some dishes are better left alone, and Steamers knows when to do that too. The restaurant offers a selection of crab legs, but the best bang for your buck — both quantitatively and qualitatively — are the ruby red jumbo Alaska king crab legs. Big, meaty and tasty, I tried not to think about what monster-sized crabs the legs came from.

Knowing that dessert is the crowning glory of any good meal, the new Steamers hasn’t skimped on the sweet treats. The must-haves include a chocolate s’more soufflé made with rich chocolate, a hint of Grand Marnier and served warm with a marshmallow crust; the thick and flavorful crème brûlée with fresh fruit; and the pleasingly sweet and tart Key Lime pie.

So if you haven’t gone to Steamers lately, plan a return visit. And if you’ve never gone to Steamers, make it a point to add it to your list of favorite restaurants.

If You Go:
Steamers (Out of Business)
2576 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix
(602) 956-3631
www.steamersgenuineseafood.com

 

Arizona Business Magazine

February 2010

BLT Steak Offers Fine Food In A Classy, Yet Casual Setting

BLT — Oh, there’s bacon, lettuce and tomato alright, but not in the way you would expect. BLT Steak actually stands for Bistro Laurent Tourondel, named after its famous chef and the master behind the magic of this great dining experience. As part of the BLT Restaurant Group, the Scottsdale location is one of many restaurant ventures with homes in cities from New York to Los Angeles, and even San Juan, Puerto Rico. One thing that remains constant at all the restaurants is Tourondel’s devotion to fine ingredients, with simply prepared cuisine served in a relaxed dining atmosphere.

BLT Steak is known for its signature modern American steakhouse menu that is supplemented by weekly blackboard specials. The restaurant recently celebrated its one-year anniversary at the renovated Camelback Inn and continues to impress guests with great dining in a casually elegant setting. Chef De Cuisine Marc Hennessy has created a blend of American fare with a French twist, also paying homage to the location with hints of Southwestern seasonings and flavors.

After much discussion, my dining companions and I finally ordered some appetizers. We opted for the crabcakes and tuna tartare — little did we know that this was only the beginning of course after course, bite after bite of delicious dining. The crabcake, complemented by remoulade and radish salad, tasted delicious. But our table was simply blown away by the tuna tartare. The tuna was served on a plate of ice — a detail that would ultimately seal the deal as the table favorite — resulting in a pleasant, chilled taste, packed with the flavors of avocado, soy-lime dressing and a whisper of wasabi. Divine. Did I mention this was only the beginning of our meal? Our knowledgeable and friendly server, Jeanie, also brought out a chicken liver pate with crunchy, toasted bread and a fine assortment of antipasto.

Next, we were surprised with some massive carbohydrate creations. Giant Gruyere-crusted popovers, coupled with butter and sea salt, were brought to our table. The sheer size of these concoctions was intimidating, but once you broke through that crispy layer and unearthed the airy, warm, soft bread center, all fears disappeared. I indulged in one whole popover, though I really did try to stop myself, knowing that a full meal awaited.

We rounded out our starter selections with crispy field greens, flavorful roasted beets, and beefsteak tomatoes that impressed our table even further. What was next we wondered? The answer: more great-tasting food.

Sauteed dover sole, 8-oz filet, 14-oz New York Strip and braised short ribs were our entree selections. Just as the popovers had thrown us for a loop, so too did the entrees and the accompanying sides. We were lucky to sample a true assortment, everything from potato gratin and grilled asparagus to stuffed mushroom caps. We certainly got our daily dose of vegetables, even if some were served with bacon, as was the case with the brussels sprouts. As one of my dining companions noted, “the only way to do brussels sprouts is with bacon.” I can’t argue that one. But bacon or no bacon, every dish left us wanting more — and wishing we had the room in our stomachs to accommodate it.

The fish was buttery and light, simply melting in your mouth with each bite. Of course, we had to sample some signature steaks at a restaurant with the entree in its moniker, and we weren’t disappointed. The New York Strip had a zesty tang thanks to a peppercorn sauce. The filet’s medium-well cooked flavors were complemented by my choice of red wine sauce (FYI there’s myriad sauces to choose from), and the braised short ribs also were well received.

Alas, our meal was slowly coming to an end. Despite the fact that not one of us thought we could muster another bite, we simply couldn’t leave without having dessert. Our commitment to the full dining experience was rewarded by the three desserts we selected: a warm chocolate tart, a peanut butter chocolate mousse and a blueberry-lemon meringue pie. The tart was incredibly rich, but was paired well with the coolness of a dollop of pistachio ice cream. The peanut butter chocolate mousse, served with banana ice cream, was an interesting mix with a great balance of flavors. And last, but certainly not least, I surprised myself with my personal favorite of the night. Normally, anything chocolate wins in my book, but the fresh fruit flavors of the pie and the tartness of the lemon sorbet were a perfect ending to a meal fit for a king. For a truly satisfying meal, excellent service and an overall pleasant dining experience, BLT Steak doesn’t disappoint.

If You Go:
BLT Steak Scottsdale
At Camelback Inn, A JW Marriott Resort & Spa
5402 E. Lincoln Dr., Scottsdale
(480) 905-7979
www.bltscottsdale.com

Arizona Business Magazine

January 2010

Avalon enchants with its decor and impressive cuisine

Avalon Enchants With Its Decor And Impressive Cuisine

Avalon’s dining room has chic, minimalist décor and a neutral color palette.
Photos: Avalon Restaurant-Scottsdale AZ

With its modern twist on an ancient legend, Avalon can be found on an unassuming stretch of McDowell Road. The Scottsdale restaurant has an almost whimsical presence and enchanting appeal that is first noted by the serene and placid pool that leads to the entrance while soothing music drifts through the air.

Inside, the chic, minimalist décor and neutral color palette continue the feeling of serenity. The calm ambiance is adorned with touches of nature, such as white tree branches and dark wood accents.

In contrast to its decor, Avalon’s food is an eclectic combination of seafood and contemporary American cuisine prepared and presented with a passionate eye for aesthetic detail. And in a nod to its namesake, a sweet concoction called the Lady of the Lake can be found on the cocktail menu.

My dinner companions and I began our night with several starters. The crispy calamari and polenta-stuffed jumbo prawns were very well received. But the top prizes went to the lobster bisque and the steamed Prince Edward Isle mussels. A special that day, the bisque was creamy with a surprisingly tasty tang. The mussels were swimming in a delicious lobster bouillabaisse loaded with smoked white fish and shrimp. The bouillabaisse struck the perfect balance of piquant and mild flavors. It was my first experience with mussels and — if they’re all this good — it certainly won’t be my last.

Next up was the soup-and-salad course. The Avalon Caesar and roasted beet salads were delicious, but the clear favorite was the organic baby field greens with candied walnuts and fresh strawberries. I also couldn’t resist the French sweet onion soup. With just the right amount of sweet it definitely lived up to its name.

Entrees came next and we chose carefully to keep a balance of appetizing dishes that hailed from land and sea. The shrimp fettuccine carbonara was a rich combination of flavors topped with crispy pancetta, English peas and lemon crema. The seared Maine diver scallops also received rave reviews from our table.

Although the seafood dishes were palate pleasing, it was the lamb and steak dinners that tantalized our taste buds. The Provimi farms lamb dish was made up of a roasted rack of lamb and seared lamb T-bone, topped with a green peppercorn sauce that we all agreed was scrumptious. The aged prime rib-eye steak satisfied even the most devout meat lover, and coupled with a potato pancetta hash, onions and a bordelaise sauce, it was a meal to end all meals.

I didn’t think I had any room left for dessert, but when I saw an item on the menu called Avalon’s Chocolate Decadence I couldn’t say no. Our server informed us that the treat had won an award for best dessert in the Valley for the past five years. One taste and I knew why.

Alas, our time at Avalon had come to an end and the verdict was in: For delicious and innovative fare, a visit to Avalon won’t disappoint. This casually classy establishment is truly an indulgence for the senses — invigorating your taste buds in a serene setting while awakening you to the sights, sounds and flavors of fine cuisine.

If You Go:
Avalon
7707 E McDowell Road, Scottsdale
(480) 656-0010
www.avalon-scottsdale.com

Pizza Parlor

The Parlor Turns An Old Beauty Salon Into A Pizza Paradise

There are no hair dryers, manicure stands or various grooming products to be found at The Parlor, a new gourmet pizzeria in Phoenix, but the ghost of them remains.

The Parlor now occupies the long-time site of the Salon de Venus on 20th Street and Camelback Road. The co-owner of The Parlor, Nello’s Pizza scion Aric Mei, salvaged as much as he could from the old beauty salon for use in his new eatery. Using the wood from the original roof, Mei created a new bar, tables, wall treatments, a host stand and the front doors. From the steel of the salon’s old sprinkler system, Mei constructed a wine storage, fireplace, door handles, bar pendants, bench supports and various other items.

Mei took his recycling efforts one step further. When he found out that a restaurant across the street was being razed, he purchased the contents of the building and outfitted The Parlor with its booths, bar, kitchen equipment, faucets, sinks, flush valves, shelving and speakers.

His efforts at sustainability didn’t end there. Committed to utilizing solar technology on the restaurant, The Parlor installed a thermal solar system that supplies the building’s hot water. Mei says he has the plans and The Parlor has the dedicated space to eventually have a 10-kilowatt array of solar panels on the roof.

The resulting look is simple and streamlined without being oh-so-trendy. Hipsters, power lunchers, couples and families all have a place at The Parlor.

But enough of that; what about the food? In a word — great.

The Parlor combines simple and gourmet ingredients to create seemingly simple dishes that boast complex tastes. We started our evening at The Parlor with its meat and cheese selection appetizer. The meats are primarily ham, prosciutto and salami, paired with an array of hard and soft cheeses and served with grilled rosemary flatbread.

For the next course, we dove into the salad selections. The table settled on the Parlor Insalata with mixed greens, feta cheese, olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, crispy chickpeas, pepperoni and oregano dressing.

The Parlor also serves sandwiches and burgers, and like the décor, they are deceptively simple. For example, The Parlor’s version of a club sandwich features duck breast, apple wood smoked bacon and a red wine tomato jam. The Parlor also offers a limited but imaginative selection of pasta dishes. The pappardelle Bolognese has a hearty meat sauce and tender but firm noodles that had everyone raving.

But of course, the stars of The Parlor are the pizzas, which range from the exotic (wild mushrooms with goat cheese and truffle oil) to the familiar (pepperoni). The crusts are light and crunchy — the perfect foundation for the rest of the pie. We chose the salsiccia pizza, which is topped with a special Parlor sausage, grilled radicchio, sage and saba, a type of vinegar. The combination of ingredients was delightful and quickly won over my dining companions. We also ordered the pepperoni pizza just to see how they executed the pie.After all, as any chef will tell you, it’s the simple dishes that are the easiest to ruin. The Parlor hit it dead on. You can also create your own pizza from a list of toppings. I put together goat cheese, rock shrimp and prosciutto for my pizza. My companions opted not to try my creation, which was fine with me because I loved it and got to eat it all by myself.

If you have room for dessert, make sure you pick The Parlor’s chocolate cake with Italian cherries, vanilla cream and chocolate sauce. Hey, if you ate a whole pizza, you might as well grab dessert.

    If You Go:
    The Parlor
    1916 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix
    (602) 248-2480

giesha a go go sushi

Geisha A Go Go Serves Up A Japanese View Of The West

When life-sized posters of iconic rock stars line the bar — in this case, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Sid Vicious — you know you’re in for a wild ride.

A colorful hallway filled with neon-lit, arcade-style games marks the entryway. The dark wood walls and stone-like floors, along with a large boulder directly in the middle of the floor, make up the eclectic mood of the place. It’s clear as soon as you walk in that Geisha A Go Go is not your typical Japanese restaurant. Instead, it is a Westernized twist on the Japanese lifestyle.

On the cozy, intimate patio space, we had a front row seat to the action on Old Town Scottsdale’s streets. But people-watching aside, we dove right into the menu to begin our evening. With two pages of appetizers it was difficult to choose, so we selected a variety of items including edamame, Japanese pork dumplings, and shrimp and vegetable tempura. Pretty soon we were on a roll — literally — sampling what Geisha A Go Go had to offer. We began with some traditional choices, and the California, yellowtail, rainbow, soft shell crab and tuna rolls disappeared quickly. After scanning the menu to decide which rolls to order next, I spied the Gaijin roll, described as “an Asian twist on the chimichanga” and I realized that we were in for a Japanese dining experience like no other.

Much like the whimsical décor of the restaurant itself, the sushi rolls were quite an adventure for the palate. And there’s more where the Gaijin roll came from; other unique rolls had names such as Red Samurai, Harajuku Lover and even the Pokemon topped with Fritos — yesFritos! At Geisha A Go Go, no flavor combination is off-limits and we plunged into these exotic concoctions. One of the favorites of the table was the Dragonball made with shrimp tempura, crab mix, salmon, avocado, spicy mayo and unagi sauce, topped with masaga and scallions. This bright orange delectable was a feast for the eyes and mouth.

The namesake roll of the restaurant was also a hit — a balance of both sweet and spicy flavors with lobster tempura, crab mix, avocado, and even cream cheese, all wrapped up with soy paper.

After what seemed like an endless array of rolls, sweet tempura ice cream, a cinnamon banana crisp and smoothsake rounded out our dizzying journey of flavors.

Geisha A Go Go is definitely not your average sushi restaurant nor is it trying to be. In addition to some of the most interesting sushi combinations you can think of, Geisha A Go Go offers private karaoke rooms available for rental. The restaurant is the perfect place to start your night off with some appetizers and drinks or for a casual lunch. Either way, the food, the atmosphere and the service form a winning combination.

Prime Bone In Ribeye

J&G Steakhouse Makes The Former Mary Elaine’s Location Its Own

Over the past two years, the dining scene at the Valley’s top resorts has undergone an extreme makeover. The most high profile of those makeovers took place at The Phoenician, where that staid first lady of dining for 20 years, Mary Elaine’s, was shuttered last year. Now occupying the spot where Mary Elaine’s once stood is the far trendier and far less formal J&G Steakhouse.

Gone are the high-backed chairs and linen tablecloths. In are butcher-block tables and modern designs. Out is French cuisine; in is a new take on steak and seafood. But one thing has remained the same — those fabulous views Mary Elaine’s was so famous for.

The restaurant’s interior is swathed in purple and gold, a palette the establishment’s owners say was inspired by steak and wine. A tempesta onyx wraparound bar welcomes patrons as they head into the main dining room. There are also two private dining areas and the terrace has oval banquettes and fire pits.

J&G Steakhouse, which opened in December, is the creation of Michelin-starred chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. He has developed a menu in which the classic fare of a big city steakhouse is re-imagined with a modern twist.

After getting over the initial wonder of how the space that had once housed Mary Elaine’s has been transformed, I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of food on J&G Steakhouse’s menu. For a steakhouse, it has a generous selection of seafood.

Our dining party started the meal with J&G’s specialty cocktails. While most of the drinks were variations of more familiar libations, such as a grapefruit gimlet, others were of the kind I thought went out with the Rat Pack. Case in point is the Sazerac, made with 100-proof Rittenhouse rye whiskey, Pernod Absinthe, Peychaud’s bitters and Angostura bitters. You don’t want anyone lighting a match around this drink.

The appetizers were an unexpected treat. Many restaurants fail to find a balance with their appetizers; they are either afterthoughts or so good they overshadow the main menu. At J&G, the appetizers are inventive and tasty. The restaurant succeeds in not overwhelming the main courses by keeping portions small. Of the four appetizers we chose, every one was a winner. Special mention goes out to the savory French onion soup, the rich sweet corn ravioli in basil butter and the salmon tartar, served diced with warm garlic toast and mustard oil.

With so much good seafood on the menu, we couldn’t resist splitting our orders into two meat dishes and two fish entrees. First up was the 8-ounce filet mignon, which, good thing for a steakhouse, did not disappoint. The milk-fed veal porterhouse was also a treat. Normally, I won’t eat veal because I don’t like the taste, but J&G’s rendition of the cut may make me a convert. The first fish entrée was a roasted striped bass encrusted with chilies, herbs and lime.But the true star of our evening at J&G was the sautéed Dover sole grenobloise. Carved tableside, the sole was light and flavorful, and was a wonderful alternative to the meat dishes.

Like many steakhouses, J&G is a la carte, so if you want side dishes you have to order them separately. The sides at J&G are pretty straightforward fare, but they don’t take a backseat to the entrees. Of particular note were the roasted mushrooms with herbs — if you have a large party, make sure to double your order.

sushi platter

Sushi Roku Blends Trendy With Traditional For A New Dining Experience

At the heart of the new W Scottsdale, Sushi Roku is taking the dining world by storm. With various locations in the Los Angeles area, as well as one in Las Vegas, this contemporary twist on Japanese cuisine has arrived to make its mark on Arizona territory.

The architecture and decor are a sleek combination of modern design and traditional Japanese accents. The bar area is comprised of concrete and a large, natural tree-root that sits at its base. Dark wood floors, an elliptical sushi bar flanking the dining area, and a dim, candle-lit atmosphere lure you in. No, this is no ordinary sushi place, but rather a total dining experience.

Sushi Roku dishUpon entering the restaurant, staff members enthusiastically greet diners, yelling out “Irasshai!” This warm Japanese welcome was the beginning of the flavorful journey that we were about to embark on. We began the evening with some traditional starters, including edamame, as well as a unique offshoot of the well-known favorite, edamame hummus, served with vegetable wonton chips. The edamame were warm, crisp and salty — just the way I like them. The hummus was also a hit, complemented by the flavor-packed chips. The standout from the appetizers was definitely the Kobe beef skewers. The tender, moist beef was offset by a punch of spice that woke up the taste buds.

Dining in a restaurant with sushi as part of its namesake made our dinner selection a no-brainer. We began with a natural choice for sushi lovers: the oldie but goody, California roll. After sampling a wide array, including caterpillar, softshell crab and salmon sashimi, we were still hungry for more. We decided on the katana roll, and the signature dish was well received; a combination of tuna, yellowtail, spicy tuna and shrimp tempura, it had just the right amount of zest to please. But the pièce de résistance of the sushi selections was the baked lobster roll. Covered in a creamy miso sauce, the roll had a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth taste that was a perfect balance of flavors — not too spicy, not too bland, but just right. Side tempura dishes of eggplant, sweet potato and carrot made eating vegetables a pleasure rather than a chore. Sure they may have been deep fried, but it still counts in my book.

No meal is complete without dessert and to my delight, it didn’t disappoint. Though we enjoyed the frangelico creme brulee, there was a clear winner in my eyes. A chocolate lover at heart, the lava cake was the perfect ending to a satisfying meal.

Sushi Roku can be described as part trendy sushi bar, part elegant dining excursion. All in all, Sushi Roku is a fusion of great tasting Japanese cuisine, sleek design and a hip presentation of meals. As the staff pleasantly says when you leave, “Arigatou!” Thank you! And we will indeed come again.

If you go:
7277 E. Camelback Rd.
Scottsdale
480-870-2121
www.sushiroku.com

Fogo de Chao Tableside Gauchos

Fogo de Chão Brings The Taste Of Southern Brazil To Scottsdale

Let’s get one thing straight at the outset: If you don’t eat meat for whatever reason, Fogo de Chão, Scottsdale’s newest eatery, is simply not for you. Sure it has a nice salad bar (more on that later), but Fogo de Chão is a steakhouse — end of story.

Well not quite. Fogo de Chão is a Brazilian steakhouse, so it prepares and serves up its meats in a manner quite different from that found in our own American steakhouses. In fact, showmanship is as much a part of the Fogo de Chão eating experience as the food itself.

But now I’m getting ahead of myself. First an explanation of what Fogo de Chão is; it is a churrascaria, or barbecue, in which the meats are prepared the way cowboys, or gauchos, in Southern Brazil have cooked them for centuries. The meats are prepared over an open grill, mimicking the gauchos’ fogo de chão, Portuguese for “fire on the ground” or “campfire.”

Fogo de Chão has a prix fixe, all-you-can-eat, menu that allows guests to eat as little or as much as they want. And there is a lot to eat. The meal starts off with a gourmet salad bar that bears little resemblance to what you’d find at an average chain restaurant. There’s little by way of fixings for a traditional American-style salad. Instead, the “salad bar” operates more like an antipasto bar with meats, cheeses and breads sitting side-by-side with the vegetables. You’ll find smoked salmon and prosciutto; fresh, whole mozzarella and Manchego cheeses; and artichoke bottoms, olives, hearts of palms, sun dried tomatoes and more. If it’s your first trip to Fogo de Chão, you might load up at the salad bar because you simply don’t know any better. Here’s a word of advice: don’t, because you’ll miss out on the main event.

That main event is made up of the 15 cuts of fire-roasted beef, pork, lamb and chicken that are served via espeto corrido, or continuous service. When you sit down at your table, you’ll notice a little coaster-like disk, with one side green and the other red. When you turn over the disk to the green side, waiters dressed like Brazilian gauchos and carrying skewers of meat, surround your table and offer to carve you a slice of meat. One skewer can hold the same cut of meat, but prepared rare, medium rare and medium well. Just tell your server which one you want.

As for the cuts of meat, almost all the choices are delectable. At our table the favorites were the picanha, the prime part of the sirloin, which is served seasoned with sea salt or garlic; the filet mignon, served with or without bacon and tender beyond belief; the alcatra, which is cut from the top sirloin; the fraldinha, which is cut from the bottom sirloin and is perfectly seasoned; the beef ancho, the prime part of the rib eye; the cordeiro, which is young leg of lamb; lamb chops; and the lombo, tender filets of pork loin encrusted with parmesan cheese. You can also get a variety of cuts of chicken, plus pork sausages.

While you’re eating all that meat, the servers are also constantly replenishing side dishes of cheese bread, mashed potatoes, fried polenta and caramelized bananas. When you’ve had enough, turn your disk over to the red side — and flip it back to green when you see something else you like. Besides the food, the best part of Fogo de Chão is the environment. It’s dinner with a floorshow. If you go, take a large group of people with you, as the communal atmosphere makes dining at Fogo de Chão that much more fun.

The multilevel Estate House offers elegant and cozy dining.

Estate House Provides An Evening Fit For The Upper Crust

With the sounds of trickling water and candlelight dancing across the tables, the Estate House in Scottsdale is as inviting as your own home. The multilevel restaurant includes a lounge, as well as indoor and outdoor dining, facing the beautiful Waterfront area of the Arizona Canal. Plants climb up the elegant columns, unique chandeliers exude soft lighting and whimsical wall embellishments make up the Euro-Sonoran décor. All these elements create a lovely backdrop for a relaxing meal.>

The contemporary French cuisine was complemented by soft jazz music, floating delicately throughout the restaurant, adding to the intimate ambience. Our evening began with a delicious amuse bouche, a chilled parsnip soup served in a shot glass and topped with a crunchy panchetta. The bread basket proved too good to pass up and selections such as blue cheese rolls and baguettes were warmly placed on our plates. It was hard to say no the second time the basket came around, but alas, some room had to be left for dinner. A delicious wine and cocktail list enticed the taste buds even further, including a crisp pear martini made from freshly pureed pears. Yet, with such a plentiful menu in front of us, simple water allowed us to savor the rich taste of the food itself.

With several ambrosial appetizers to choose from, our party decided on three starters with varied ingredients to please the palate. The wild mushroom robiola strudel was the hands-down favorite of the table, but the others were praised as well. Interesting elements in the dishes, such as a habanero tangerine mousse served with the chilled pomegranate duck breast, were found in each course. The tangy mousse was an unexpected flavor when biting into the duck, but proved to be a tasty addition.

Small surprise details were found throughout the meal, keeping your taste buds on their toes. Even if you don’t enjoy eating greens, the salads were very well-prepared and tasteful, with choices for the pickiest of eaters. The grilled marinated feta salad was a delicate mix of romaine hearts, lemon oregano marmalade and a touch of olive oil. The baby herb salad was also a favorite with a muscat vinaigrette dressing, and roasted walnuts and grapes that together make eating your veggies a fun and flavorful experience.

After all these courses, we realized that we hadn’t even had entrées yet! Luckily, our appetites were re-invigorated when we set our eyes on the delectable plates. The consensus among the table was that the shiraz molasses braised short rib was the most appetizing, yet the chef spared no expense when it came to the other dishes. The filet mignon was tender and juicy. Full of strong flavors of sun dried tomato and roasted garlic, the handmade tagliatelle was a great pasta dish. Butternut squash puree and garlic braccoli rabe complemented the entrees nicely, and rounded out the French feast. Conversation was hard to keep up with because the myriad of delectable foods kept our mouths full.

Just when we thought we couldn’t eat any more, dessert menus were placed on the table. While freshening up with warm hand towels, we decided to sample several desserts. All the delicacies were regarded as perfect endings to the satisfying meal and declared “rich” and “delicious” between bites. One standout from the sweet treats was the gianduja raspberry torte, an exquisite mélange of chocolate and raspberry. A warm, hazelnut chocolate cake was served with a chilled shot of raspberry sorbet that was infused with a hint of mocha. Divine.

The wonderful presentation of the dishes and friendly service matched the understated elegance of the restaurant. Whatever the occasion may be, from a romantic rendezvous to a corporate event, Estate House is the perfect place to go.

Chef Eddie Matney Returns With Eddie's House, 2008

Chef Eddie Matney Returns With Eddie’s House

Chef Eddie Matney, Eddie's House, AZ Business Magazine Oct. 2008

The Valley’s original celebrity chef, Eddie Matney, would like to invite you to his house for dinner. Well, it’s not his actual house, but at Eddie’s House, Matney’s newest Valley restaurant, it’s like eating home cooking as only this chef can make it.

It’s been a couple of years since Matney had an eatery in town that bears his moniker, but the wait was well worth it. Eddie’s House in Old Town Scottsdale combines all the things Matney is famous for, plus some new and comforting elements.

Overall, the decor strives for a stylish, but inviting and casual vibe. Those who sit at the head of the table get to relax in large, comfortable armchairs upholstered in a mix of leather and green and purple striped fabric.

But you don’t go to Eddie’s House for decorating tips. You go there for the food, and once again, Matney doesn’t disappoint. His food has always lived in a region where America meets the Mediterranean.

The appetizers reflect all of these influences. Matney’s flatbread and tartar starters change daily. The day my party went, the flatbread was topped with smoked salmon and roasted garlic, while the tartar selection was a tuna blend that had my dining companions raving.

We followed that with the soup and salad portion of the dinner. I jumped at what the menu dubbed the “serious” lobster bisque cappuccino. Unlike other bisques that tend to have a cream base, this lobster bisque appeared to be made primarily of a lobster stock that allowed the sweet, rich taste of the lobster meat chunks inside to really shine.

On to the entrees, where Matney kept to his tradition of hearty portions. The special that night was a pork chop dish, which quickly became a favorite at the table. The chops were tender and tasty, with everyone claiming more than one bite. Another favorite was the bacon-infused meatloaf. Oh Eddie, you had me at bacon. Add to that Yukon gold mashed potatoes and onion strings and we all forgot our diets that night.

Arizona Business Magazine October 2008 Cover

Earning special notice was the EHC or Eddie’s House Chicken. The chicken was cooked to perfection, but what captured everyone’s attention wasthe presentation. While the breast was served on a dish, the legs and thighs were placed in a small, whimsical ceramic “basket” painted to look like a bucket of chicken from that famous colonel.

Although I thought I couldn’t eat another bite, dessert is de rigueur for me. The dessert that earned the most “ooos” and “ahhhs” was the crème brûlée, so rich and sweet and surprisingly light. While the crème brûlée was very good, my personal favorite was the baked chocolate pudding topped with whipped cream. It was almost like a mousse. I became even fonder of the dessert after Matney told the story behind it; he was inspired by his memories of his mother making a similar dish while he was growing up. How appropriate for a restaurant named Eddie’s House.

www.eddieshouseaz.com

Kona Grill opening new location

Kona Grill Opens Third Location In The Valley

By Noelle Coyle and Janet Perez

Despite the sluggish economy, restaurants continue to open or expand in the Valley, and Arizona native Kona Grill is no exception. Originally founded in Scottsdale in 1998, the restaurant has expanded throughout the United States, with locations in Missouri, Nevada, Indiana, Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan, Louisiana, Illinois, Nebraska, Texas and Florida. In June, it came back to its roots with the opening of a new location in Gilbert, and there are more plans for growth on the horizon. The Gilbert location joins two other Kona Grills in the Valley at Scottsdale Fashion Square and Chandler Fashion Center.

The new Gilbert restaurant opened at SanTan Village, one of many recent outdoor lifestyle malls built in the Valley. Kona Grill’s interior includes many of its signature features, including soft lighting, a granite sushi bar and a 2,000-gallon saltwater aquarium filled with exotic fish.

Like its decor, Kona Grill’s menu is an inspired combination of American comfort food and Pacific Rim ingredients.

The appetizers exemplify this philosophy with onion rings served with a pineapple chipotle and spicy mustard sauce; blackened catfish or macadamia nut chicken tacos; calamari with a spicy aioli dipping sauce; and Kahuna Bites, beef sliders seasoned with onions and thyme. I was disappointed to see that one of my favorite Kona Grill appetizers is no longer on the menu, a spicy salmon sashimi paired with sour cream and avocado and wrapped in a flour tortilla that is then flash-fried. Here’s hoping Kona Grill brings that delight back.

Kona GrillThe dinner menu abounds with baby back ribs, pizzas, macadamia nut chicken, lemon grass crusted halibut and sweet chili-glazed salmon. The pizza toppings run the gamut of exotic from regular pepperoni to shitake mushrooms and goat cheese. The macadamia nut chicken might sound simple, but it features a shoyu cream sauce and a pineapple-papaya marmalade.

A special treat is the Big Island Meatloaf. If you’re expecting it to be just like Mom used to make, you’ll be in for a surprise — unless Mom hails from Hawaii. The meatloaf is made with sweet Italian and Andouille sausage with a mushroom ragu. The dish is topped off with white cheddar mashed potatoes and wok-tossed vegetables.

If you’re in the mood for steak, Kona Grill provides with 6 and 10-ounce filets, and a 20-ounce, bone-in rib-eye.

Now for me, the real attraction to Kona Grill is the sushi. I love sushi, but I realize not everyone shares my enthusiasm, so with its full-complement of non-sushi dishes, friends and I can go to Kona Grill and both be happy.

The basic rolls and sashimi are handled well at Kona Grill, but it’s the restaurant’s specialty sushi dishes that are a real delight.

Called Kona Rolls, my favorites are the spider roll, deep fried soft-shell crab with crab mix, avocado and cucumber wrapped in seaweed and soy paper, and topped with a sweet eel sauce; and the Sunshine Roll, spicy salmon with cucumbers wrapped with rice and seaweed, and topped with fresh salmon and thinlysliced lemon. Of the chef’s specials, I’m a fan of the Volcano, a dish made of baked crab, white fish and yamagobo (pickled burdock plant) and topped with motoyaki sauce, sriracha and eel sauce.

The Asian-fusion philosophy doesn’t extend to the dessert menu. The goodies there are strictlyall-American with fudge brownies, apple crisps, banana pudding and even a root beer float. The one exception is the crème brûlée, in which the traditional custard is infused with fresh passion fruit.