mabel’s on main in scottsdale
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Mabel’s on Main in Scottsdale
May, 2010, Page 149
Photos by Richard Maack
What Aaron May’s new restaurant lacks in culinary chops it makes up for in visual appeal – if you’re hungry for eye candy.
You could certainly go to Mabel’s on Main to eat. Chef/owner Aaron May opened his speakeasy-style restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale early this year for that purpose, creating a menu of continental classics like Rockefeller-style oysters ($12), shrimp cocktail ($9) and tangy Swedish meatballs ($4), alongside more contemporary bites like glazed pork belly ($7) and foie gras torchon ($13).
You’d enjoy your dinner well enough – a mix-and-match grazing experience that might begin with deviled eggs ($8), the whites a bit dry and rubbery but redeemed by their creamy, piped yolk interiors and salty caps of caviar. May knows how to cook – we discovered that with his late, great Sol y Sombra and Autostrada restaurants.
Although you likely would be surrounded by masses of customers – the spot, in the space that was the sports bar Mabel Murphy’s, is enormously popular, with lines snaking out the door – you’d probably be eating alone. Because first and foremost, Mabel’s is a bar, and May’s original plans to establish it as a supper club have dissolved in a sea of Mad Men-esque cocktails (all $11), pulse-pounding music and an eye-candy clientele so delicious to watch that you won’t be hungry for anything else.
bluefin tuna carpaccio
True, you could get there pre-madhouse, say, before 9 p.m., and enjoy a decent burger and crisp-edged, mealy-hot-inside Kennebec fries ($14). The foie gras torchon is fine, sweetened with blood orange and paired with toasted brioche ($13), while bluefin tuna carpaccio is reliably fresh, zipped with yuzu and a scattering of mache ($12).
You’d also be able to appreciate Mabel’s luscious décor, the tiny space positively oozing sex appeal through its weathered brick walls, ornate wallpaper and polished wood wainscoting that cocoons black leather booths, tufted leather wingchairs and Victorian sofas under glittering chandeliers.
Except food isn’t the star here after all, not in the dazzling glow of gorgeous night-clubbers knocking back Sazeracs of VS Cognac, Ri(1) Whiskey, simple syrup, and Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters. Day boat scallops coated in gremolata ($15) aren’t any better or worse than they are anywhere else, and it’s the same with ordinary chicken “lollipops” dunked in Maytag blue cheese ($7).
May says he’s still tinkering with the tiny menu, which he loftily calls “a contemporary slant on mid-century fare and tasty renditions of seasonal menu items, reflecting the classics of a bygone era.”
But the menu is not what really matters at Mabel’s. Instead, it’s a beautifully put-together space packed with beautifully put-together people sipping beautifully put-together cocktails. And you know? That can be appetizing enough.
inside Mabel’s on Main
Mabel’s on Main
: Continental American
: 7018 E. Main St., Scottsdale
: Wednesday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to close (as late as 2 a.m.)
: Swedish meatballs ($4); deviled eggs ($8); foie gras torchon with toasted brioche ($13); bluefin tuna carpaccio ($12)
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