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April, 2010, Page 312
Photos by Enrique Hernandez
You’ll feel like a million bucks after splurging on these comfort foods with luxurious twists.
4991 S. Alma School Road
(The Promenade at Fulton Ranch), Chandler, 480-883-3773
The Reuben can’t help but be homey, given its generous body of corned beef, Swiss, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on rye bread. But executive chef Brian Peterson gives the sandwich a whole different DNA, in an elegant incarnation starting with venison pastrami from Broken Arrow Ranch. You can taste the difference in these free-range, all-natural animals, which lead a full life in the wild before being humanely harvested through population management programs.
Peterson shaves the hot, succulent meat thin and piles it atop toasted artesian rye smeared with aioli-white wine Dijon mustard. He mounds it with his secret-recipe sauerkraut (it takes three weeks to ferment) and tops it with Barely Buzzed Cheese, a coffee- and lavender-rubbed cheddar from Beehive Cheese Co. A pass under the broiler renders it all melty-gooey.
Then Peterson pan-sears a lobe of La Belle Farms foie gras to a golden, unctuous jewel. The foie goes on top, followed by a drizzle of 100-year-old balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of peppery micro greens.
The big, messy delight is served open-faced on a pond of aioli-Dijon and vinegar. At $26, it’s truly “Reubenesque” art.
6920 E. Cave Creek Road,
Cave Creek, 480-437-1072
While most Valley restaurants are facing the recession by toning down their menus with more ordinary ingredients and lower prices, chef/owner Kevin Binkley just can’t be stopped. Customers continue to arrive in droves for his nightly changing menu, in anticipation of what opulent riff he’ll be playing on his contemporary American theme.
Périgord potato salad, perhaps? In this over-the-top appetizer, Binkley begins with three types of potatoes: sweet, Yukon Gold and purple Peruvian. The pretty mix is tossed with homemade mayonnaise spiked with black Périgord truffle oil and chopped truffles, then tumbled with celery branch, celery leaf and micro celery. Next in: baby artichokes kissed with lemon juice, garlic and onion.
The salad gets a salty, meaty kick with house-made duck prosciutto and sweet, earthy character from charred red onion. Tying it all together is a glistening gossamer of “broken” black truffle vinaigrette, crafted of chopped black truffles, black truffle oil, Cabernet vinegar, shallot and garlic.
Diners may do a double take at the charge: $32.
But when the server shaves a finishing flurry of black truffles over the dish, it’s truffle in paradise.
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Fred’s at Barneys New York
4500 N. Scottsdale Road
(Scottsdale Fashion Square), Scottsdale, 602-337-6111
It’s one thing to insist that executive chef Todd Henderson makes an outstanding veal Milanese, though that recipe usually just means meat dipped in beaten egg and breadcrumbs, then fried. And it’s worthwhile to note his veal comes from calves that live well (not crated), and that his bone-in chops weigh a whopping 14 ounces apiece. Still, even the most pampered palate may wonder, because each plate is $38, plus $6 for sides, and did we mention we’re eating in a bistro in a department store in Scottsdale Fashion Square?
Seriously, fine dining amid the racks, even if those racks hold frocks for a clientele who thinks nothing of spending $5,000 on a ball gown. Henderson’s dish is the stuff of comfort food dreams, pounded to buttery tenderness, then fried in butter to a crunchy golden brown. The chop is draped over a bitter, peppery radicchio-endive-arugula salad dressed in garlicky red wine-mustard vinaigrette, then drizzled in lemon-butter sauce.
Simple, perhaps, but sublimely satisfying and remarkably luxe.
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