photo by Brian Goddard

Amuse-Bouches - December 2015

Written by Craig Outhier Category: Amuse Bouches Issue: December 2015
Group Free

Eat with Your Eyes: One-Star Yelp Reviews
We saw something amusing on the Interwebs the other day: one-star Yelp reviews of America’s most splendid national parks. (Sample Yosemite review: “I had to go to the bathroom, and it was gross.”) Curious to see what lame rationales Yelpers use to pan the Valley’s best, most-universally admired restaurants? Read on.

Little Miss BBQ: “Brisket was dry and tasted like dog food. Horrible! Turkey was chewy. Not sure if it was under cooked or not. Horrible! Sausage tasted like bologna. Horrible!”

Binkley’s: “For example, a COLD sloppy joe smaller than a penny seemed extremely out of place in fine dining.”

Steak 44: “We scoped out this place with great anticipation only to find it was a personal residence that has been listed for sale. A great concept, but one that apparently did not work.”

Postino: “Postino’s is one of many restaurants/bars in AZ that permits concealed weapons without permits...For that reason I am reducing the previously 5-star rating to 1-star.”

Nobuo: “Pass on this place... only 10 tables anyway.”

Kai: “Kai has always had our car ready by [the] time we got out the front of the hotel. There was always two water bottles in the cup holders and chocolate on the dash... [but] not tonight.”

Shinbay: “Apparently, I did the unthinkable and asked for soy sauce, wasabi and ginger. I was told the sushi was already seasoned and I would not be getting what I had requested.”

Citizen Public House: “The staff is friendly. The service is fine. But I’m a gosh dang man and I need to fill my belly.”

… and the grand champion of one-star Yelp reviews...

Pizzeria Bianco: “I will equate our dining experience at Pizzeria Bianco to that of the election of Obama....frankly I would be shocked if my husband and I weren’t the only two customers there high on pot.”


Mouth-to-Mouth:  North Phoenix Briskets
Little Miss BBQ (pictured above) dominates the barbecue conversation in Phoenix, but there’s plenty to rave about in the city’s northern nether-regions, where an exciting groundswell of artisan smokehouses has emerged. We picked two of the North Valley’s most popular barbecue upstarts for a no-holds-barred brisket showdown.

Pork on a Fork vs. Naked BBQ

The Eye Test: POAF is dewy and luscious-looking with a nice layer of fat. Naked BBQ has less twinkle, but is also eye-pleasing, with a thicker, pinker smoke ring than its colleague.  

Mouthfeel: True to appearances, POAF is silky and moist. Especially the fatty bits, which melt on contact. Naked presents a modest chew, but is still very tender. Less fat.

Flavor: Not an abundance of smoke flavor with the POAF brisket; however, the rub is strong, salty and herbal. Naked lets the smoke do the talking; the rub is uncomplicated and showcases the strong pecan-wood flavor.

We Choose: Ugh, tough. Neither sucks in the slightest. We’ll go with Pork on a Fork because succulence is a slightly rarer commodity than smokiness; Naked’s beans are better, however.,


Eater’s Triangle: Downtown Pizza Crawl
A recent Trip Advisor report confirms what our food writers have been telling you for the last couple of years – the Valley has spectacular pizza. Ranked No. 9 nationally on the website’s “Top 10 Pizza Cities” list, Phoenix boasts so many elite pizzerias that you might want to consider knocking out a handful of them in one night with a Downtown pizza crawl.

What you’ll need:
• 6-8 people
• Comfortable walking shoes
• 3 hours
• About $30 per person

The rules:
• Order two pies at each stop, so everybody gets one or two slices.
• Always make one of the selections a margherita, as a benchmark for comparison.
• At the conclusion of the crawl, vote for “best margherita” and “best overall pizza.”

Eater's Triangle