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Photography by Richard Maack
Except for a swanky setting, the much-anticipated transformation of Hanny’s Downtown still leaves much to be desired.
For what it used to be – a landmark men’s department store from 1947 to 1986 – Hanny’s is a successful transformation into an urban lounge. There’s nothing to suggest its noble haberdashery heritage except for the ornate columns and a plaque with a few clothier names, but the libation-minded seem to like it: After 5 p.m., things can get hopping with Downtown worker bees downing classic Moscow Mules ($9) and Pimm’s Cups ($8).
For what it wants to be – a restaurant – it has a long way to go. The menu seems as short as a happy hour list, and there’s very little here that sounds interesting. There’s even less that delivers satisfaction.
Except for the familiar feel of the airy, contemporary décor, it’s hard to believe that this place comes from Karl Kopp, who brought us Scottsdale’s wonderful AZ88. Where’s the classic AZ88 burger? Where’s the fun? Where’s, well, the food?
That something as simple as bruschetta ($7) can be such a disappointment means someone isn’t paying attention. A half dozen toast slivers are so pocked with holes that the roughly chopped toppings fall right through. We spoon them from a bowl and watch them land on the plate – green and kalamata olives, tomato, olive oil and a fistful of salt.
Fried onion strings show up as an appetizer ($7), as a topping to an odd cauliflower Calabrese ($7.50), and as sides to the four sandwiches. They’re never good, only sweaty, soft and bland. The miserly sized sandwiches don’t excite me much either, with the best thing about a flabby prime rib and bacon model ($8.50) being the fried egg served on top. Too many pepper flakes clobbered the pork Calabrese ($8.50), while pancetta on an English muffin ($8.50) would have been decent had I counted more than just three whisper-thin slices of meat.
There’s casual table service at the lounge-chic seats and sofas, but your best bet is to stake out the bar, where a staffer oversees a shiny red prosciutto slicer. Perhaps you can successfully beg him, as I did on one visit, to pony up more of the good stuff for an otherwise meager bar plate ($7.50) of prosciutto, Parmigiano-Reggiano and melon.
So is there any reason to eat at Hanny’s? Thin-crust pizzas, while not noteworthy, are filling, particularly the sausage-pepperoni combo ($12). I’d do a chopped salad, too ($11); it’s ample at least, brimming with artichoke hearts, avocado, mushrooms, hard-boiled egg, heart of palm, tomatoes, greens and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
And though your indifferent server likely will push another cocktail instead of offering dessert, the hot, fluffy doughnuts ($5) are actually pretty tasty, dipped in chocolate or strawberry sauce. Pass on the tiramisu ($7) though, and get some from a real Italian restaurant.
The stylish, contemporary Hanny’s sure cuts a nice figure, and does such a delicious job with the drinks. Yet, with the food, it’s a case of all dressed up and nowhere to go.
Chopped salad and bruschetta
: 40 N. First St., Phoenix
: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Monday through Friday; 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., Saturday and Sunday
: sausage-pepperoni combo pizza ($12); chopped salad with artichoke hearts, avocado, mushrooms, hard-boiled egg, heart of palm, tomatoes, greens and Parmigiano-Reggiano ($11); doughnuts dipped in chocolate or strawberry sauce ($5)
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