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Solo lunch -- enjoy bar seating, good wine

I'm in LV now, & looking for exactly the same kind of thing! Lunch is astonishingly difficult!!

Today I had lunch at Fleur at Mandalay Bay, & was very happy with it. Could be just what you're looking for. I had green gazpacho shooters with an oyster -- nicely spicy, big cilantro, & very well balanced, & a big, classic style caesar salad with just a hint of truffle oil. I was looking to stay very light, but the rest of the lunch menu looks very nice too. Definitely gourmet sensibility & touch, without necessarily breaking the bank.

On previous trips, I've done RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay & Mon Ami Gabi, which are very nice & satisfactorily "foodie-ly". I haven't tried Morels at Palazzo -- I was by there once for lunch & it was dead-empty -- or Olives at Bellagio; both of those menus look promising.

Emeril's is fine, & does a solid job of a nice, light oysters & salad kind of lunch. And is convenient for staying at MGM. I haven't found it to be particularly worthy of destination-dining though.

I don't know why there aren't more foodie lunch options!

Jan 18, 2012
emmaAmethyst in Las Vegas

Breakfast in North Scottsdale?

Depending on your "family" - maybe not so much small children -- the Herb Box at DC Ranch on Pima is very good.

Oct 19, 2011
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

NOCA or Binkley's

What Dmnkly said.

Binkley's - absolutely. Binkley's can be pricey, but is totally worth it. Very special, completely awesome. Definitely consider one of the Tasting Menus. Binkley's is destination dining. The drive out to Cave Creek is cool, service is impeccable, nobody's in a hurry, & you should just take your time & enjoy everything. We've been with friends who aren't particularly foodies, who still rhapsodize about things on the menu that were "the best thing I ever ate".

Noca is good, although I don't feel the food is at the same level as it was before the chef change. (It's still good, & the product is lovely, but IMO is just missing that last bit of pulling it together perfectly.) I've experienced some inconsistency issues around cocktails & service. The vibe at Noca is definitely more big-city, noisy, "high energy", & even a bit crowded -- some people find that energetic, but personally, I prefer a more laid back ambience.

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Binkley's
6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331

Noca
3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

Oct 19, 2011
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Who's on vacation this summer (2010) ?

I'm almost starting to feel like "Who is open in July?" would be a better question. I have guests in town in the next couple of weeks, & am running into a lot of my fave foodie places being closed for their summer vacations!

- Binkley's, closed 7/4-8/6
- Atlas Bistro, closed 7/6-8/2
- Quiessence, closed 6/27-8/3
- Razz, closed 6/12 - September (as always)

I think both of the Boa Bistros are open, although Payton is off in Croatia for a couple of weeks.

We have reservations at FnB, plus the winemaker dinner at BLT Steak. We'll certainly get to Noca. I like Petite Maison very much, & Staff Meal there would be a good, different experience -- if I can figure out a good late lunch to keep them from starving til 10:00 pm.

(Scottsdale to CenPho, & north thereof is preferred, lest they think we're driving to Tucson for dinner.)

What other places am I forgetting about that 1) are open (!!), & 2) demonstrate, "No, really, Phoenix has a locavore scene & really interesting indy chefs!"

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Binkley's
6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331

Atlas Bistro
2515 N Scottsdale Rd Ste 18, Scottsdale, AZ 85257

Quiessence
6106 S 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85042

Noca
3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

BLT Steak
5402 East Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85253

FnB
7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Jul 07, 2010
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

PHX Los Betos, Filibertos, et al. - What's Good, Not?

Anybody got any specific recommendations around the Taum/Greenway part of town? There are quite a few of the Betos/Bertos around there, but are any of them any better than any others? (And the 24-hours requirement is mandatory.)

Also, anybody know of a 24-hour place that does reasonable Red Chile con Carne?

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And, in fairness, 24-hour drive-through isn't *just* for apres-bar. Late shift at work; car full of dogs; desperately in need of a shower from doing something outdoorsey. All of those preclude a regular-hours sit-down place.

Feb 06, 2010
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Announcement: New Board Breakdown for Chowhound

I assume that you mean "Phoenix" to be "Metro Phoenix Area"? Right? Phoenix/Scottsdale/Mesa/Chandler/Queen Creek/Glendale. That's directly analogous to SF Bay Area & Los Angeles Area.

Also, doesn't make sense to me to have Texas plus its 3 urban centers lumped under Southwest at the same level as Phoenix Metro Area & Las Vegas. I would expect it to be set up like California & Pacific Norhwest are -- i.e. Austin, DFW, Houston & "rest of Texas" all under a Texas header; Phoenix Metro, Las Vegas, & "rest of the Southwest" under Southwest header (with the possibility of expansion including breakouts for Abq/Santa Fe &/or Tucson.)

Am also very happy about San Diego getting a promotion as well!

Jan 26, 2010
emmaAmethyst in Site Talk

Wine Dinners in Scottsdale/Phoenix

BLT Steak at Camelback Inn. They *also* have one tonight (scheduled against the Caffe Boa one -- grrrr!), & again on Dec 10, with Quintessa wines.

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Caffe Boa
5063 E Elliot Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85044

Nov 12, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Caffe Boa (Tempe) - now with Chef Payton!

I'd originally assumed that Payton & Shantal were there as a package deal, but that's not the case. Shantal was hired separately to work on whatever front of house issues there might be. She is all over making sure things in the front are reflective of the food that comes out from the back. She's psyched about it!

Nov 06, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Caffe Boa (Tempe) - now with Chef Payton!

I was already planning on going to Caffe Boa last night, even before New Times' Chow Bella reported the big menu change & posted the new menu! Early word was that they were going to make menu changes gradually -- well, that went right out the window! Payton said there were 4-5 things remaining from the previous menu. If you've got a resource like Chef Curry, you may as well run with it! :-)

My usual dinner companions are out of town, so I went on my own. The only downside of that is that I only got to sample a couple of things. (So far. That'll be remedied soon enough.)

I started with the scallops with tajarin pasta. Scallops perfectly cooked, sauce both mouth rich & flavorful, but not heavy. Excellent.

I knew if I had a pasta & a main, I'd be taking home leftovers -- but that's not a bad thing! I went with the duck. Sliced duck breast, lovely, with sides that make it a fabulous dish. A dense, yummy potato gratin, a sweet date & squash ragout, & some lovely little slightly-bitter greens. All the parts perfect with each other -- the rich from the potato, the sweetness from the ragout, but neither of those overpowers the duck, & the greens cut the richness & give good texture contrast. It was soooo gooood! (One thing to be aware of: Payton generally likes to do duck pretty rare, & he uses good product that warrants that. I'm OK with that, but imagine some people would prefer a bit more cooking.)

I brought home a dessert, along with my duckie leftovers. They were calling it a napoleon, but it's actually a chocolate ganache tart, with a whipped cream & thin chocolate layer over. Not at all a napoleon (a personal pet peeve of mine ;-) ), but an excellent rich, killer chocolate dessert.

The wine list looks very good. I didn't have any problem finding a white & a red on the by-the-glass list that complemented the food perfectly. And front patio dining area is nice for this time of year.

Sooo, I'm really happy with the way this is going! This is going to work out well. :-)

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Caffe Boa
398 S. Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281

Nov 03, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Returning to North Scottsdale after a year's absence- any new places to try?

Banzai Cowboy is a good time for interesting cocktails & sushi-like goodies. Miki is excellent at both "regular" sushi & more complex variations -- eg. sneaking in a bit of paper-thin jalapeno between slices of hamachi with yuzu pulling it all together. It's very personable & friendly, which I find unusual for it's DC Ranch location.

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Banzai Cowboy
20715 N Pima Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

Oct 28, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Help -- Business dinner (expense account) in Vegas....bad track record

Would help if you ran through the failures, just to give us a perspective on what you're looking for. Or at least gave us some sort of parameters ...

Oct 22, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Las Vegas

More changes afoot on Stetson Drive (Scottsdale)

New Times' version of Payton's move is here:
http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/bell...

I didn't expect the tiny space to be a long-term plan for Payton -- this should be a much more suitable situation for him.

(And congratulations to Shantal & Payton on their wedding yesterday!)

Oct 12, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Best Mexican food in Old Town Scottsdale?

I'll second The Mission. It's lively & appropriately hip for your crowd. Excellent drinks menu -- not just standard margaritas. Very good & interesting food. And definitely right in Old Town.

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The Mission
3815 North Brown Avenue, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Sep 23, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Callebaut cocoa powder PHX/SCT

Yeah, the Callebaut chocolate shop moved out of Kierland several years ago, & moved to less expensive digs at Pima & FLW. However, I believe that location closed over the summer.

Call Sur le Table at Kierland -- I may have seen it there. And if they don't have Callebaut, they may have Scharffenberger or another of the high quality ones. (Note that some of the high-end cocoa powders come as "sweetened" or "unsweetened", so be sure to specify which you need.)

Did you check the AJs at Pinnacle Peak & Pima? (Or just the one further north on Pima.) In my experience, they sometimes have things that the other branches don't. My only other thought, a longshot, would be Whole Foods. (Again, I find that the Tatum/Shea branch has more depth than the Scottsdale/101.)

Unfortunately, if you have your heart set on the Callebaut, I'm afraid you may be into "order it on the internet" territory.

Sep 23, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Where to eat during Restaurant Week 2009? (PHX)

I just can't buy into that mindset. If they're open, they should be doing their best, regardless of what you're ordering or whether you've opted to avail yourself of a special that they've decided to offer. I regularly check out a place with a small meal or a special deal (like RW) before I commit to a big spendy extravaganza with my wine-lover friends. If you blow the audition, you don't get the gig. It's that simple. The way I see it, particularly for those high-end, resort places, RW is an opportunity to get people to come check you out, in anticipation that they'll come back for the spendy meal(s) at a later date.

But if the service is lacking or snobby, I ain't coming back.

In fairness, I have been to a couple of RW places that were swamped (because of the special deal) & had some service issues due to being slammed. I can be more forgiving of that. But if I get the impression that the service issues are because of what I've ordered, the place os off my list.

Sep 21, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Where to eat during Restaurant Week 2009? (PHX)

Places not on the list? Binkley's doesn't need to participate, & never does, but I'm always a little surprised that Cafe Bink's doesn't. Would be nice if Razz were on there, as a "back from their summer vacation" reminder. Cowboy Banzai at DC Ranch would have been cool to have. (It's important for them to let it be known that they're a nice, fun place, & not "DC Rawnch stuffy".) Presumably chef Porter thought it might be "too much, too soon" for his newly opened Petit Maison. Total missed opportunity for Calistro California Bistro (Pima just north of the 101).

(Anybody happen to know: Does a restaurant have to be on OpenTable in order to participate? It seems most of them are...)

Sep 21, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Seeking Phoenix resturant in house (maybe?)...

That looks really cute. Had completely slipped under my radar! Is it good?

Sep 16, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Vegas - Nobhill or Fiamma?

If it's a 10th reunion, go to Fiamma. If it's a 25th, go to Nob Hill. :-)

Seriously, they're both very good, & calling it a tie is a pretty fair assessment. So, comes down to a question of what kind of experience you're looking for.

I find Fiamma to be a bit more of a "scene" (but not obnoxiously so), & has a younger vibe. It's more of a high-energy place. More conducive to a more "rowdy" group. Should I assume that the show you're going to is Ka? If so, I think Fiamma might be a bit more ... compatible.

Nob Hill is somewhat more subdued, relaxing, & even romantic. I've been there when there have been larger groups, & the vibe stays basically at mellow conversation. If you have serious foodies & winos who want a lot of focus on those aspects, Nob Hill is your choice.

Service is very good to excellent at both. Generally the staffers at Fiamma are younger & more casual. At Fiamma, the staff generally starts off fairly formal, & then will relax & be more convivial & chatty if that's what you want.

Is that any help?

Sep 11, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Las Vegas

Where to eat during Restaurant Week 2009? (PHX)

So far, we have resevations at BLT Steak & Noca. We just did Atlas for yelp's RW (& it was yummy!) -- I wouldn't mind doing that one again, although I'd be perfectly happy to just go any time. We did Bourbon Steak last year, & thought the food was excellent. However, everybody in our group found it loud & the chairs uncomfortable. I'm willing to hit that one again & see if it was just something about the particular table we were at.

Booger had exactly the same experience at Roka Akor that we did. And I've had exactly the same response. (Haven't been back.) If anybody does go, it'll be interesting to hear if they've changed their attitude any ...

Sep 08, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Las Vegas - Could I stay and dine well for less?

What an interesting thread! Somehow reassuring that it isn't mandatory to drop multiple hundreds, & still get good stuff!

Sep 03, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Las Vegas

PHX: City North Restaurants

Are any of the restaurants up there local in any significant way, or is everything part of a chain / ownership from someplace else?

Aug 31, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Escape at DC Ranch - Scottsdale, AZ

It's basically immediately north of the Fleming's there. I walked by there last week & there was a small group on the patio with some sort of water pipe. Otherwise, looked dead. I actually didn't even know they were supposed to have food -- thought it was just a club of some sort.

(Not to thread hijack, but this reminds me I need to start a thread on Banzai Cowboy -- really good!!)

Aug 27, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Whoa. Tapino closed for good (PHX)

Any bets on how "crazy-busy" he's going to be on opening night? :-)

Congratulations, Chef James!

Aug 21, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Going to be in Scottsdale/Phoenix 2 days, Sedona too. Restaurant Recs?

You couldn't ask for a better Sedona & GC summary than that!

I thought we'd done a Phx/Scottsdale one of these recently, but since I don't see it ...

Start with this excellent thread ...
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/638265

You can find much discussion of these elsewhere on this board. A starting short list, focusing on things that you might not have at home, includes:

-- Binkley's - fabulous, high-end but not frou-frou; get the tasting menu
-- Noca - excellent quality, good vibe for your ages
-- Dick's Hideaway / Rokerij -- sisters to the much beloved Richardson's (which recently had a fire) big southwest flavours

Other interesting possibliities:
-- The Mission - Old Town Scottsdale; has some really tasty stuff, & a very hip vibe, especially on weekends
-- Cowboy Ciao - eclectic menu
-- Atlas Bistro - excellent food; technically, it's a BYO, but there's a very good wine store immediately adjacent, which gives you an amazing selection (I'm thinking the alcohol laws in Ontario are about the same as in BC -- "limiting" to say the least)
-- Razz may be back from summer hiatus by the time you're here - he's an adventure in himself :-

)

In early September, we're just barely starting to come out of "summer mode" -- a lot of the brunch offerings won't be back up yet. And some of the interesting places only do lunch during tourist season.

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Cowboy Ciao
7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Binkley's
6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331

Dick's Hideaway
6008 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85016

Atlas Bistro
2515 N Scottsdale Rd Ste 18, Scottsdale, AZ 85257

Rokerij
6335 N. 16th St., Phoenix, AZ 85016

Razz's Restaurant & Bar
10315 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85253

Noca
3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

The Mission
3815 North Brown Avenue, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Aug 19, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Dining options from PHX hotel

Please tell us you're staying in a more useful part of town for your week-after. Then we can get serious about making suggestions!

Aug 07, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Lotus of Siam or Nobu? Which would you choose?

I was way underwhelmed with Nobu, especially for the price.

Aug 04, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Las Vegas

Cannot log in with Safari

All better now. Thanks, tech support!

Jul 31, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Site Talk

Yelp Eats! (PHX)

We went to Metro Brasserie on Saturday. I was psyched since we'd had such good experiences at Atlas & Mission. Unfortunately, not so much.

The first major problem was that they seemed to be completely understaffed for a busy Saturday night. It took forever to get anything turned around from the bar. (The woman working the bar was making an ernest effort, but she was clearly not in any way an experienced bartender.) Our reservation was for 7:30, & we probably got seated about 8:00. Took a good half hour to get wine delivered to the table, & our food order wasn't taken til 8:45 -- first of the food arrived atbout 9:15. Now, at Atlas, the kitchen had been backed up, but the waitstaff was still very attentive. At Metro, it felt like there just weren't getting around to us. Yeah, they were busy, but not packed!

So having waited, once the food arrived, it was ... OK. Usually pate has cornichons, capers & such on the side. This one had them in the pate, which was weird. It was tasty enough, but definitely nothing inspired. The duck was pounded, breaded & fried. There was nothing ducky about it -- could just as easily have been veal or pork. Only a trace of sauce, & no taste (to me) of horseradish in the spaetzle. The word "bland" was pretty much the consensus around most of the table -- under-seasoned, uninspired, & generally nothing to write home about.

OK, so explain this: One of our companions asked if it would be possible to get bernaise sauce with his steak frites, rather than the maitre d'hotel butter. I don't believe they have bernaise standing by anywhere else on the menu, but it never hurts to ask. Not only did the bernaise appear, it was clearly freshly made for the request, & was lovely! One of the best that I've ever had in a restaurant! Somebody in the kitchen clearly knows what they're doing -- so why was most everything else so pedestrian?

So, unfortunately, disappointing. With all the restaurant closings in the neighbourhood, maybe they need to think about picking up some additional skilled help.

Jul 27, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Yelp Eats! (PHX)

No reports on this from anybody? Other than the 2 posts in the Digestif thread, I don't think I've seen anything about experiences...

We've been to Atlas Bistro & the Mission so far, & have Metro Brasserie tonight. We've been very happy with the all offerings so far -- everything was pretty much excellent at both.

Atlas Bistro was also having a tasting dinner in the wine side on the same night, so the kitchen was rather backed up. They had also added a couple of things, changed one of the desserts, & were also were offering a 4 course version for $40. The $40 version added an additional first course of some killer lovely things: lamb chop, sweetbreads, pork belly & ... this is what happens if I don't take notes. We had the lamb & the pork belly & both were delish! Having this additional option slightly confused the advance wine selections, but we managed. :-) I had never been to Atlas before, this was a great introduction, & will definitely be going back.

I had also never been to the Mission before. That was also very good, & would go back there as well. Among the table, we had everything on the RW menu, & everything was excellent.

There weren't any of the new places that we tried from the last "real" restaurant week that warranted a return visit. But both of these definitely did. (Don't know if it's just a matter of luck, but this one's going really well for us!)

Jul 25, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix

Digestif's new incarnation (Scottsdale)

There definitely isn't a separate bar area. But I agree with Meleyna, drinks & apps won't be a problem at all. As a matter of fact, I think of it more that way than I do "serious dining". I usually sat at the charcuterie bar at the former location, & casual was always the vibe. I'm figure the craziness has more to do with "just reopened" & mini-restaurant week -- I assume things will calm down soon. (And you happened to peek in on Thursday, which was exclusively the tasting dinner, which obviously has a more "formal" feel than usual.)

They're still interested in doing cocktails. Peter was mixing the Plum Dandy cocktails for the first amuse at the tasting dinner. The regular menu has a "Cocktail Culture" section on the back with 10 interesting cocktails listed, including several of the same ones as before.

Jul 25, 2009
emmaAmethyst in Phoenix