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Looking for Thanksgiving dinner recommendation

You know, something else you might consider is just doing a simplified home Thanksgiving dinner. Think about the things that are complicated and time-consuming, and just take some shortcuts. For example, buy a turkey roast, or even a stuffed turkey roast, to avoid the turkey preparation. For the potatoes, have you ever tried roasted white sweet potatoes? They're always available at Fry's, and they're delicious. Just cut them in half lengthwise, rub them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast them for 45 minutes or so until tender. Use some sort of gravy mix for the gravy. Same for the stuffing if you don't get a stuffed turkey roast, maybe doctored up with some fresh herbs or diced dried apricots. So far, you've got the turkey, potatoes, gravy and stuffing looked after with about 10 minutes prep, little equipment, and probably 5 bucks a head. Store-bought pumpkin pie is often just as good as home made. And so on. Just a thought.

Nov 12, 2012
aricat in Phoenix

in phoenix on x-country food trip - BEST MEAL NEEDED

I can't help you for tonight, but if you're still looking for something in the next couple of days that won't break the bank, I'm going to throw The Mission out there as a possibility (Old Town Scottsdale). I prefer the dinner menu. The duck carnitas empanada are nice, and for dessert, you have to get the pumpkin bread pudding - at only 6 bucks, it's one of my two favorite desserts in the city. Not sure if it's a "death row" meal - maybe you should go to Texas for that.

Jun 27, 2012
aricat in Phoenix

Store Bought Bottled Steak Sauce in Phoenix

I know that when I look for something specialized like that, I usually check online. Be specific in your search expression, and use the Google Shopping search. For example, I typed in "mesquite steak sauce" and "chipotle steak sauce", and both turned up some interesting results. In town, you might stumble on something at AJ's, for example, but it would be pretty hit and miss. That's all I've got, sorry.

Jun 15, 2012
aricat in Phoenix

I Hate My Gas Grill, and Use It All the Time

The convenience of gas over charcoal is overstated here, I think. It only takes 10-15 minutes for the charcoal to get hot in a chimney starter. Pour charcoal in the pan, and off you go. There's at least a few minutes of prep to do with the food in that time anyway. I use the same pair of BBQ gloves every time, and put the chimney starter on... wait for it... the ground to cool down. Not complicated. Also no looking for propane stations, worrying about running out of fuel halfway through, or inspecting for leaks. In return, you get the best grilling results, hands down, and 600 degrees no problem on the Weber.

Jun 13, 2012
aricat in Features

Convention center recs

By the way, I note that you asked a similar question in July, 2010. (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/720553) Did any of the places you tried then work out for you? Thanks.

Jun 06, 2012
aricat in Phoenix

Convention center recs

The OP asked for not too expensive. I realize I'm probably in a lower tax bracket than some people here, but I think Nobuo is quite pricey, particularly given the small portion sizes and very good but not mind-blowing food. The ambiance is also more appropriate for an intimate gathering than a crowd, I think. The service has been polite and attentive when I've been there recently, though a little stiff.

I just don't see how you could go wrong with a second-to-none pizza place like Bianco? Great food, good buzz, everyone will have a fun time. Then you might want to contrast that with something Asian on another night. Decent Thai choices seem never to be too far away, though I'm not sure what's best close to the Convention Center.

But look, if there are 8-10 of you, you might think about splitting on a couple of taxis and heading to Old Town Scottsdale for an evening. It's a lot of fun for visitors just to walk around there, and the restaurant choices are vast.

Best wishes, and enjoy your stay.

Jun 06, 2012
aricat in Phoenix

Chef Matt Taylor Leaves Noca

I guess my first thought was 'Not pizza!' - we have so many great choices for that already, along with some decent Italian - NOCA seemed to fill a niche unique to this area. I guess we'll have to wait and see. Hopefully they'll go heavy on the seafood.

May 27, 2012
aricat in Phoenix

Chef Matt Taylor Leaves Noca

New Chef named -

From AZCentral.com:

It didn't take chef Claudio Urciuoli long to land a high-profile new gig. Less than a month after his sudden split from Chris Bianco, he's resurfaced at Noca, replacing Matt Taylor.

Taylor and Noca owner Eliot Wexler agreed to part ways last Wednesday. "There's no scandal, no juicy gossip," said Taylor, 27. He and Wexler had different ideas about Noca's direction. "He's an owner and he needs to do what he needs to do. And I need to do what I need to do."

After his arrival last September, Taylor had given Noca a jolt with his Southern-inspired dishes. Now, under Urciuoli, the menu will acquire an Italian sensibility, said Wexler, with additional emphasis on homemade pastas and seafood. And later this summer, Noca will add pizza to the mix.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/thingstodo/d...

May 27, 2012
aricat in Phoenix

Lunch options downtown near courthouse (jury duty)

I would say Sticklers is nothing special at all. Average bread, pedestrian toppings, feels like a business office cafeteria.

Apr 15, 2012
aricat in Phoenix

Best Caesar salad dressing?

I know this isn't quite what you're asking, but in case you get stuck, I quite enjoy the Brianna's Home style Asiago Caesar Dressing, available at your local Fry's. Good luck in your quest.

Jan 15, 2012
aricat in Phoenix

Feast of the Seven fishes

Noca on Christmas Eve. Here's a link to the specific menu:

http://restaurantnoca.com/Menu/2011/D...

Dec 22, 2011
aricat in Phoenix

uhockey's ramblings on The Valley 9/29-10/1 including Pizzeria Bianco, Binkley's, Barrio Cafe, Kai, Cowboy Ciao, The Mission, and more.

Thank you for posting such thorough reviews of your dining experiences in Phoenix. They are especially enjoyable when viewed with the photos. Are you sure you aren't being paid by the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce? Your reviews make me proud to be a Phoenician.

Oct 21, 2011
aricat in Phoenix

PHX Food Truck Festival - October 22nd

Thanks for the heads up. Food trucks are certainly trending right now - should be fun, and supports some good causes. I tried to find a list of vendors, and found a partial list on Facebook, including:

Short Leash Hot Dogs, Carte Blanche, Frufrupops, Mojo, Shine, Sunshine and Spice, Sweet Republic, Sunshine, Shine, Taste Rite, Toms Pig Rig, Beat Street, Pizza People, Torched Goodness, Udder Delights, Hey Joe TruckHey Joe, and Emerson Fry Bread.

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Fry Bread
7611 W Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85033

Sep 20, 2011
aricat in Phoenix

Headed from Disney land to phx via road any must stops?

The Yacht Club was named with a sense of humor, including the motto "Long time, no sea". The restaurant serves bar type food primarily (wings, jalapeno poppers, etc.).

Sep 07, 2011
aricat in Phoenix

Best option near Jobing.com Arena

"High end beef" is a relative term, in my opinion. Certain cuts of beef are appropriate to certain dishes, and many would argue - including many high end chefs - that you can draw more flavor out of the "lesser cuts". In fact, even the price discrepancy at the store isn't what it once was, as the demand for cheap cuts has grown.

Aug 25, 2011
aricat in Phoenix

Chef Curtiss going to Fox Concept...

What now seems clear is that Curtiss wanted out of Noca, and was ready to jump on the first thing to come his way. He probably shouldn't have mentioned the youth project until he had it nailed down, because then of course the Fox group snatched him up, likely with a lucrative and attractive offer. But it's not like he has an agent advising him what to say. How unfortunate Laura Hahnefeld seized the story line "What about the Children?" as her angle to the follow-up article. Just a cheap shot.

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Noca
3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

Aug 16, 2011
aricat in Phoenix

Chef Curtiss going to Fox Concept...

Not to be cynical, but any chance Chef Curtiss is just following the money? No crime in that. Besides which, a chef's life isn't exactly easy, and if he found a position that allowed him to be a more hands-off executive type chef provided with an already polished staff, maybe that suited him just fine. Plus he could save up for a place of his own now, which is the goal of many a great chef.

Aug 08, 2011
aricat in Phoenix

Why do so many taco joints have "berto" in their name?

Here's a link to a 2008 Arizona Republic article, "The '-berto's' bonanza". In it, all your questions will be answered:

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepub...

Jul 10, 2011
aricat in Phoenix

Cork(Chandler) - Likely lone in my dislike

Respectfully, I don't see much in common between your review of Cork and the other poster's review of Noca, other than the fact you were both seated under an AC unit. The Noca reviewer was dissatisfied with the ambience, the service, and the food. You seem to have been ok with the ambience and more than ok with the food (your one passing comment on food was that the fish was cooked perfectly and the sides were interesting) - they just stumbled a couple of times on service. To me, unless we are looking for perfection, if a restaurant scores high marks on food and ambience, the service can only be a deal breaker if it is atrocious. While the service clearly detracted from your experience and made a negative first impression, I am a little surprised that it alone warrants a thumbs down on the restaurant as a whole given your overall description of the meal.

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Noca
3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

Apr 03, 2011
aricat in Phoenix

Noca - Sunday Simple Supper - Worst dining experience in Phoenix

Maybe there is a moral here.

We all know that a restaurant is only as good as its last plate. In this case, one improperly seasoned dish along with wine pairings that never happened (quite an egregious error) produced a somewhat negative review on a foodie website. Yet that comment by the server - "they are fond of the saltshaker" - suggests a more systemic problem. Do two less than exemplary reviews in a matter of days suggest a decline at Noca, or just bad luck, the randomness of the internet, or a backlash to the staunch Noca defenders?

Not flavor alone, not creativity, but service, consistency and quality control are the pillars of a great restaurant, and maybe we all have to remember just how specific to an occasion, and just how transitory, a restaurant review really is. Of course this works both ways, both for the positive reviews and the negative. The salty dish of this review should have been tasted and rejected, assuming of course it really was too salty for the typical or discerning palate (is there a difference?).

But truly, one has to concede, it may be only one particular dish, pulled off repeatedly by the same chef, that can be recommended at a restaurant, in terms of the food served (Chef Curtiss' fois gras, for example). In terms of service, is the whole staff on the same page, or did you happen to catch the right person on the right night?

I have eaten at Barrio Cafe several times, and it's usually been amazing. On one occasion, though, it was absolutely dreadful. That one experience is enough to make me really question the quality of this well-liked restaurant. I'll be back, but I will never again be as trusting.

I believe that a restaurant review is highly contingent on circumstances and environment. A meal served on a patio in beautiful downtown Rome identical to a meal served in a strip mall in Detroit will be perceived completely differently. So don't say that setting and ambience make no difference, or that a patio in a parking lot is just a "model" of restaurant in Phoenix that, because it is so common, is a-ok. It's really not, it sucks.

The OP of this thread wrote a questionable review in terms of specificity and locution. However, I have no reason to disbelieve the essential sentiment of the review, namely, that he or she had a miserable experience. Maybe, relative to how it is billed, the expectations that came with it, and the price tag, Noca really was the worst dining experience for the reviewer. I kind of doubt it, but this latest review gives one pause, no?

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Noca
3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

Mar 20, 2011
aricat in Phoenix

Noca - Sunday Simple Supper - Worst dining experience in Phoenix

sorry, parking lot patio, not busy street - still, I'm not a fan of either one.

Mar 16, 2011
aricat in Phoenix

Noca - Sunday Simple Supper - Worst dining experience in Phoenix

The OP said there was zero street appeal, and the patio was right on a busy street. I don't see why this can't be considered relevant information to include in a review. We all have our favorite hole-in-the-wall places, but if someone were looking for a place with a decent patio, it might be helpful to know that Noca would not be a first choice. I personally don't enjoy patios with loud traffic nearby, and I don't think it has been suggested that a mountain view is a prerequisite, or the only other option, for a good restaurant.

Again, had the food redeemed the situation, then I'm sure we wouldn't be having this chat. But the food fell short according to the OP, and that is what a large part of the review was about. Responses to the review seem to have been a critique of the reviewer - he was passive aggressive for not complaining about his seating, he didn't understand the menu, he didn't realize that many restaurants in the GPA are situated in strip malls. But at the end of the day, he didn't enjoy the food, and the OP's other comments are not, in my opinion, completely out of line for a review, be it the music selection or the crowded seating.

I respect and value the opinions of the regular Phoenix Chowhound contributors who have much more dining experience in the area than I do, and I also recognize that tsm3's review is a little over-the-top in its criticisms, not to mention lacking in specifics with respect to the food. I therefore weigh the review accordingly. But efforts to go after the OP's credibility have, for me, had the opposite effect. Are we encouraging people to share their experiences if our response is, 'You just don't get it', every time we happen to disagree with their assessment?

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Noca
3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

Mar 16, 2011
aricat in Phoenix

Noca - Sunday Simple Supper - Worst dining experience in Phoenix

Thank you for your review, TSM3. I think the setting of a restaurant is fair game for a critique. Yes, there are some great strip mall restaurants, but who really wants to sit in a parking lot patio? If patrons are seated directly under an a/c duct, I again feel that's a valid criticism. Servers should anticipate your needs, not react to them after you complain. You said the portion sizes are small, and some people have now agreed with you. You can't complain to the staff about everything, and who am I to suggest how you conduct yourself at a restaurant? Most importantly, the food was not to your liking, and regardless of the other considerations or what kind of a menu it was, the food should have been amazing and made up for everything else. Clearly it didn't. Having a negative restaurant experience and writing an appropriate review - well, I thought that's why we had this board. The advice provided by this board's regular, passionate, and knowledgable members is invaluable, but I do sometimes feel like there is something of a bandwagon effect which results in some places being over-hyped and others being overlooked. I plan to try Noca despite the occasional negative review...but maybe now my expectations will be tempered to something more realistic.

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Noca
3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

Mar 15, 2011
aricat in Phoenix

best green chile in town?

I think kmarg's list is right on the money, and points out the fact that green chile comes in many forms. I personally enjoy Richardson's green chile stew. However, it hasn't been exactly the same each time I've ordered it, and I think that's part of the mystique of green chile - depending on how long it simmers, the particular batch of chiles used, and so forth, it's going to vary at least a little from one time to the next. It's also a great dish for home cooks who like to tinker. Of course, my own green chile stew is really the best around!

Jan 07, 2011
aricat in Phoenix

Christmas Day afternoon (not terribly upscale) between airport and Scottsdale

As the original poster of the previous thread on this topic, I thought I'd mention that I made reservations at Zinc Bistro. This may or may not suit your purposes, but you can take a look:

http://www.zincbistroaz.com/

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Zinc Bistro
15034 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 140, Scottsdale, AZ 85254

Dec 04, 2010
aricat in Phoenix

Christmas Day??

Does anyone know of a decent place that's open on Christmas Day? Looking for the following:

- prefer a regular menu, not a special Christmas menu or buffet
- at least an average wine list
- North Phoenix/Scottsdale or downtown would be best, but will consider anything in the GPA
- ethnic cuisine of any sort is ok, including Asian, as is a hotel/resort since these seem the most likely candidates
- $$ - $$$
- a very good consistent restaurant would be better than one that can be spectacular but is hit-or-miss

Thanks in advance. This could be a tough one.

Nov 16, 2010
aricat in Phoenix

Perfect Margarita

I add a splash or two of tamarind nectar to my margaritas - I find it adds depth, flavor, boh sweetness and tartness, and doesn't overwhelm the main ingredients. Not a purist's variation, I'm sure, but a nice little twist that I like.

Aug 22, 2010
aricat in Recipes

Slipping the waiter a "tip" under the table

I guess I disagree a little with the premise of the original post. In my experience, exceptional service is a function of a well-trained staff working together as a team (could that be the word, rather than socialism?). It is unusual to find a demoralized staff going through the motions except for the gem who happens to be serving my table. The staff agrees to pool their tips when they sign on, and unless I'm mistaken, the tips are proportionately higher for waiters than other staff in many instances, so if you leave a bigger tip, your server will automatically be compensated at a higher rate.

Aug 12, 2010
aricat in Not About Food

The Codfather - Fish 'n Chips

Unfortunately, I must agree with johnseberg. I desperately want to like this place, as it is close to where I live and I love good fish and chips. Moreover, the prices are reasonable, the staff is friendly, and it seems clear they are trying really hard to establish an authentic English eating experience... but they fall short on execution of what should be the signature dish. Whether the batter is too warm or the oil too cold I don't know, but the batter is thick and of dishcloth consistency, and the fish - rather than being flaky, fluffy, fresh and white - is sort of gray and chewy, at the thin ends in particular. When you cut or bite into the fish, you immediately have two piles of food in front of you, the fish, and the batter. Finally, the flavor is quite bland, neither the fish nor the batter seasoned with much if any enthusiasm. The fries are on the mushy side, but maybe that's not far off the English style. I hope the owners, should they ever see this thread, won't be discouraged. I think this restaurant can work, but maybe needs a new fish supplier, and some tweaking of the recipe and cooking method on the fish. Really, you have to nail that. I have only been to the location on Bell.

Jul 30, 2010
aricat in Phoenix

Krumkake recipe?

Actually, I'm going to edit the above recipe just a little - if using large eggs, I use more like 1 whole egg, 1 yolk, and 1 yolk + 1/2 white. This will provide the needed crumbliness.

May 23, 2010
aricat in Home Cooking