Monday, December 22, 2014

reviewsBlog

 

TEN

PHM 500x500 FPOFargo meets fried tomatoes at this Camelback nosh spot. Satisfying? You betcha.

Most nights, you’ll catch chef/owner Jeff Hostenske prowling the dining room at TEN Handcrafted American Fare & Spirits, chatting up guests to ensure their dining experience is topnotch. It’s a nice, personal touch and reflects TEN’s esprit de corps – a chef-driven restaurant that pairs thoughtfully prepared food with attentive service.

 

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Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour

PHM1214Flash-6-BitterGo for the craft drinks, stay for the shockingly competent mod-Asian menu at this tony Downtown hang.

If you’re a tippler who dreams of a cocktail bar with impeccable drinks, spot-on food, and the kind of big-city feel that leaves pretension at the door, Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour in Downtown Phoenix may be the place of your fantasies.

 

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Earnest

PHM 500x500 FPOCork is kaput, but its less fussy East Valley successor also knows the importance of fine cuisine and decadent desserts.

The collective heart of Phoenix Metro’s food-savvy population sank when Chef Brian Peterson and pastry chef Danielle Morris shuttered Cork in early July. After all, the upscale eatery was one of only two East Valley restaurants to receive an AAA Four Diamond rating or better in 2014. (Eight-time Five Diamond honoree Kai was the other.) Even so, Peterson and Morris scrapped Cork’s white linens – maybe Durant’s will take them? – to embrace the growing trend of fun, upscale casual dining.

 

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Oven + Vine

PHMEB10New Downtown eatery from the Portland’s brain trust scores points for comfort fare, adorable digs.

You have to love a restaurant that makes this declaration on its menu: “Food critics are welcome, but loyal customers are king.” No offense taken. Sometimes critics and loyal customers are one in the same, particularly when it’s a stone-cold charmer like Oven + Vine.

 

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Saffron Indian Bistro

PHMEB07No-frills West Valley eatery emphasizes substance over style.

Saffron Indian Bistro isn’t what you’d expect. Sandwiched between a salon and an Asian market in a nondescript strip mall, the tiny ethnic eatery is waiting-room-stark, with laminate four-tops, counter register and red-and-black Hindi numerals spray-painted on white walls. No burning incense or colorful sari fabrics here.

 

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Petite Maison

PHM1114Flash-6-PetiteMaisonSacré bleu! Chef James Porter’s Old Town reboot makes glorious transgression of classic French cuisine.

If you’ve kept abreast of the Valley dining scene over the past five years, chances are you know about Petite Maison, whether you’ve dined there or not. Tucked into a quiet block in bustling Old Town Scottsdale, the cozy, unpretentious restaurant has been a vanguard of classic French bistro food from the moment its first customer plunged a spoon into a bowl of rich, sherry-laced French onion soup capped with a gooey crown of Gruyère cheese.

 

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Second Story Liquor Bar

PHM1014EB11Costumed servers and clever concepts only tell half the story at this food-forward Scottsdale pseudo-speakeasy.

Sometimes first impressions can be deceiving. On my initial visit to the Second Story Liquor Bar, I pegged the restaurant as a tad gimmicky – the servers are dressed in Mad Men-era lace and pearls, the menu reads like a four-act play divided into intro, prologue, plot and finale, and the place has the feel of a speakeasy. Even the Second Story name is a contraption, a double entendre to describe both the upstairs location and the culinary backstory.

 

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