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golf

Camelback Inn Announces New $10 Million Golf Course

The JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa announced that it will unveil its new Ambiente golf course at Camelback Golf Club in the fall of 2013. Spanish for the word “environment,” Ambiente, which is designed with a detailed eco-friendly focus, will become the first new golf course development project in the Phoenix-Scottsdale and Paradise Valley areas in over five years, and one of a select group of new courses to be built nationwide.

The completion of the $10 million Ambiente golf course will culminate a seven-year, $70 million Marriott renewal project at Camelback Inn, designed to blend reverence for the past with relevance for the future. From preserving the resort’s 1930s adobe brick to the stylish renovation of the Inn’s 453 casita-style guestrooms, and from a new 20,000 square-foot, hi-tech grand ballroom to the debut of BLT Steak, Laurent Tourondel’s modern American steakhouse, the renewal project involved virtually every aspect of the historic resort. Today the new-look 125-acre Camelback Inn, set on its Sonoran Desert surroundings in Paradise Valley, strikes the perfect balance between showcasing the best of the resort’s storied past, while setting a visionary course for the future.

Adding to the lore of Camelback, Ambiente is expected to gain golf industry-wide acclaim for its distinct design, the challenging, yet enjoyable experience it presents to golfers of all levels and the overall aesthetic and environmental qualities it brings to the Phoenix-Scottsdale area. In concert with the popular Padre golf course, Ambiente will help to establish a one-of-a-kind 36-hole Southwest golf destination, for both leisure and group golfers, within the enchanting resort atmosphere of the Camelback Inn.

“Ambiente is more than just a new golf course, for it represents the final phase in Marriott’s unmatched commitment to reinvigorate Camelback Inn for the future, while preserving its history and the unique Southwestern style that has made it a favorite for generations of travelers,” said Jim Rose, General Manager, JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa. “While Ambiente is sure to distract golfers with its natural beauty and breathtaking views of Mummy Mountain, Camelback, the McDowells and the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, our golfing guests will find a friendly test of skill and shotmaking that will redefine the golf experience at a resort long known for its exceptional service, palette pleasing food, luxurious accommodations and spirit of adventure.”

The launch of Ambiente, which replaces the old Indian Bend golf course, will create a uniquely different golf experience than the Padre course, which today is regarded as a great parkland style golf course that, while scenic, boasts numerous water hazards, towering Pine and Eucalyptus trees and 18 golf holes that will test every golfer’s ability. In contrast, Ambiente, which was designed by notable golf architect Jason Straka on behalf of Hurdzan/Fry Environmental Golf Design, will present a distinct challenge where accuracy and a good strategy command the day, as every hole will force even the best players to focus on each and every shot. Golfers will find the eye-catching elevation changes, as well as rolling fairways with significant drops throughout the course, are among its most striking features.

Ambiente will also feature five sets of tee boxes, designed to positively impact today’s golf industry “growth of the game” effort. The new forward tees have no forced carries and offer easier approach angles, which create opportunities for aspiring golfers to enjoy regardless of their playing ability. One of the most golfer-friendly features of Ambiente is the creatively shaped greens. The overall green acreage, which stands at about 122,000 square feet, offers great movement, character and feel. Visually intimidating, the putting surfaces are very fair, but will challenge golfers to bring their best putting stroke every time out.

Environment is a significant part of the Ambiente golf course story, which centers on water conservation, wildlife habitat creation and an overall 50 percent decrease in pesticide/fertilizer and fossil fuel use, as compared to the former Indian Bend golf course. The design and layout of the course will be highlighted by 100 acres of new native desert and grass areas that will feature a mix of acacias, jojobas and sagebrush among many other desert shrubs and grasses, as well as an eye-catching collection of both summer and winter desert wildflower mixes.

These native areas, which will require one-third less water than Indian Bend, will be complemented by 85 acres of hybrid turf grass that also requires significantly less water, while reducing the daily labor and machinery intensive maintenance of traditional Bermuda grass. Overall, the combined native areas will give the course a more Northern desert look compared to the area’s traditional Sonoran Desert layouts, making it a must-play Southwestern layout in Paradise Valley.

From an Audubon standpoint, Ambiente is designed to cater to wildlife, which is part of Marriott’s overall role as a steward of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary program. By removing over 100 acres of turf grass and replacing it with native desert and grass areas, bird inventory, as well as the local mammal population, will increase substantially.

Adds Rose, “Environmental consciousness has long been a hallmark at Marriott, and we believe that Ambiente is a perfect example of the Company’s commitment to protecting wildlife and natural resources, while continually serving as a leader in eco-friendly business practices. Upon completion, we expect golfers in the community will find that Ambiente stands alongside the premier golf landscapes in the Phoenix-Scottsdale market, while we expect the course to redefine the destination golf experience for group and leisure customers visiting the Camelback Inn.”

Camelback Esplanade

Camelback Esplanade Has A New Addition: The Del Frisco's Grille

Camelback Esplanade, once the unofficial headquarters for Valley power lunches, is now mentioned most often for slowing revenue and high turnover rates. This June, however, the storied mixed-use center will welcome a newcomer to the table.

In its first restaurant venture in Arizona, Del Frisco’s Grille will fill the now-vacant booths of the venerable Houston’s Restaurant, which relocated in December 2010.

Del Frisco’s Grille, a high-end steakhouse and bar, serves contemporary American cuisine.

Del Frisco’s Grille is exactly what the landlord hoped for, says Jon Cowen, senior director at Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona. Cowen was the property’s listing agent, representing the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company of New York in the lease transaction.

“MetLife, the owner of the property, is very pleased to be leasing space to a high caliber brand like Del Frisco’s Grille,” Cowen says. “This mixed-use restaurant and retail project is the perfect home for a destination restaurant of this quality and reputation.”

Camelback Esplanade lost major tenants in Houston’s Restaurant and McCormick & Schmick’s, which closed abruptly in early January. In an effort to revamp the property’s appeal, Camelback Esplanade plans to amend its image, Cowen says.

“This lease is a critical first step in our plans to re-merchandise the retail space at Camelback Esplanade,” Cowen says.

Despite the center’s dwindling headcount, Del Frisco’s Grille is eager to make the move.

“This Camelback location is ideal,” says Bill Martens, director of development at Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group. “It has a good balance of strong office and residential density to support this dining experience, making us a convenient choice for our local guests.”

Del Frisco’s Grille plans to extensively renovate the 7,379 SF restaurant space, including the installation of a roof deck patio for extended dining capacity. Located at 24th Street and Camelback, the restaurant will be the third Del Frisco’s Grille location nationwide.

To find out more about Camelback Esplanade’s restaurants, camelbackesplanade3.com.

 

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

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.

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.