Written by Craig Outhier and Pavle Milic Category: Amuse Bouches Issue: November 2016
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First Bite: Bourbon and Bones

Another spendy Scottsdale steak place? Why on Earth not? Particularly when said steakhouse is the brainchild of chef Isaac Carter (2016 BNR selection Crab & Mermaid) and the eponymous spirits are curated by Valley mixology pioneer Richie Moe (late of Citizen Public House). Enticed by the restaurant’s nifty one-two talent punch, we visited about two weeks after its debut in mid-September.

The Scene: Steaked-out between Crab & Mermaid and Second Story Liquor Bar in Old Town, the restaurant is spacious and somberly chic, but not stuffy – it’s like a more compact, more hip City Hall. On a weeknight, the clientele is mostly business travelers and well-heeled scenesters. The bar stools are shockingly comfortable.

The Good: Love the patio overlooking Scottsdale Road, love the complimentary bacon in a Mason jar, love the plump, clean-tasting shrimp cocktail and love the Woodford/Antica house Manhattan. The protein-centric menu is mostly lovable, too, including about a dozen interesting steak cuts (box car strip?), a raw bar and a variety of tempting, Steak 44-style add-ons, like foie gras and  blue cheese granola.

The Meh: Our “barrel-cut rib-eye” – no bone, no cap, just deep flesh – is plenty succulent, but our first impression is “under-seasoned.” (Kind of sobering when you have to choke down the urge to ask for a bottle of Heinz 57 to spruce up a $40 steak.) Should have sprung for that blue cheese upgrade. And kinda-sorta amused by the menu’s gimmicky $35,000 “Epic Cristal Dinner,” which benefits a local charity. So Scottsdale.

The Verdict: Mostly on point, and the bourbon list is spectacular. But elite steakhouse? Check back in a few months for a full review.

4200 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-629-4922,


Pav on Juice: Old Town Tastings

A monthly look at Arizona wine with Valley dining impresario Pavle Milic.

By the time I was graduating high school in 1990, Kent Callaghan had just planted his Buena Suerte vineyard in Elgin, and songs like “The Policy of Truth” by Depeche Mode were playing in my green Suzuki Samurai I financed at Lou Grubb. Today, Kent Callaghan is a local legend, I drive a Prius, and NPR is more my jam. I also know a little more about wine, but the beauty of the wine world is that it is ever-changing and there is always edification to be had. In fact, Old Town Scottsdale has four tasting rooms you can visit to experience the diversity our wineries have to offer.

• Carlson Creek Wines Tasting Room
Located at ground zero for art galleries, this is a great stop to take friends from out of town. Hit the galleries and then make sure to ask Bobby Carlson to pour the 2012 “Rule of Three” GSM blend. 4142 N. Marshall Way, 480-947-0636,

• Aridus Tasting Room
The 2014 Grenache will please the Pinot Noir imbiber, and the variety happens to thrive in Arizona soil. 7173 E. Main St., 520-954-2676,

• LDV Wine Gallery
If you like robust, brambly red wines, be sure to try their 2011 “The Signature” Petit Sirah. 6951 E. First St., 480-664-4822,

• Salvatore Vineyards and Passion Cellars
The 2013 Barbera is an easy red quaff: light, fruity and thirst-quenching. I really love the feel of this tasting room: great bar counter and oversize chairs for lounging. Not in the mood for coffee? This tasting room might just be the muse you need to get some work done. 7064 E. Fifth Ave., 480-423-2901,


Eater’s/Drinker’s Triangle: Scottsdale Airpark

What’s going on with the Airpark? Once the domain of home design showrooms, office parks and single-engine Cessnas, the area has become a hot Valley food ’hood almost overnight.

1. The Chicken Scoop
Here’s a concept your Great Aunt Mabel will surely dig: All chicken salad, all the time. From the brains of 30A Restaurant Concepts and owner Dana McCurdy, it offers a Baskin-Robbins-esque assortment of the American lunch classic, from Waldorf to spicy Thai. 16495 N Scottsdale Rd., Ste. 105, 480-219-9419,

2. Hot Noodles Cold Sake
Chef Joshua Hebert’s long-promised, hotly-awaited ramen shop has finally made landfall. The haiku-like menu descriptions alone are salivation-inducing: char-siu pork and broth/bok choy/Fresno and shishito pepper. The bowls run between $9 and $13. 15689 N. Hayden Rd., 480-432-9898,

3. Desert Rock Winery
Because of course the Scottsdale Airpark has a winery. The creation of local winemaker/distiller Paul Hoffman, DRW is also the only hard cider producer in Arizona. Just don’t go expecting a vineyard – Hoffman outsources the grape-growing. Too hard to cultivate those suckers with all the private jets flying around. 7302 E. Helm Dr., 480-500-5025,


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