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January, 2012, Page 152
Photos by David Moore
Thanks to urban hotspots like Copper Blues and its neighbor, Stand Up Live, Phoenix nightlife is no longer an oxymoron.
Copper Blues’ big-city vibe begins when patrons enter the CityScape venue through a second-story, open-air bar overlooking Downtown. The slick interior is cavernous but not cold, dotted with booths, bar-height tables and a stage where more than 60 beer taps stand proud in the spotlight. As the name of the place suggests, copper pipes siphon beer from the barrel room to the taps, but the music isn’t particularly blues-heavy. Instead, new and old rock hits – played earlier on the sound system and later by cover bands – appeal to a wide age range. Deejays take the helm to spin Top 40 at 11:30 p.m.
Joel Bachkoff, who also owns Stand Up Live, hired chef/restaurateur Aaron May (Mabel’s on Main, The Lodge, Vitamin T) to create the menu and Peder Bondhus (Vitamin T) to run the kitchen. The food is upscale-pub: small plates and finger-fare, but several notches better than typical bar grub. Attentive servers and bartenders create a welcoming atmosphere.
mozzarella, basil and sun-dried tomato pizza with smoked Gouda cheese puffs
Velvety mac ‘n’ cheese baked with cheddar beer sauce ($7) is spot-on, thanks to the right beer-to-cheese ratio. Filet bites with horseradish cream ($10) couldn’t be better. Green pea guacamole with flat bread ($6) is mostly mashed peas, but it’s light and satisfying – a rare combo in the world of pub grub. Smoked gouda “cheese puffs” ($4; happy hour only) – more accurately, gougères – get a lift from zesty jalapeño jam.
Some of the biggest stars are stone hearth wood-fired oven pizzas. Chicken and smoked gouda with house-made barbecue sauce ($11) and mozzarella and sun-dried tomato drizzled with basil pesto ($9) both won us over.
Sandwiches are strong, from the Copper Blues burger ($10) with smoky bacon and sweet tomato jam to the classic Cuban ($11) with peppy whole-grain mustard.
In addition to beer, Copper Blues has a succinct wine list and a selection of “rocktails” – combinations of liquor and beer. Some work; others don’t.
A menu change in October rotated out some clunkers and introduced more salads, pizzas and sandwiches, so if you went early on and weren’t pleased, give it another shot. The kitchen also cooks for Stand Up Live but serves mostly run-of-the-mill fried fare there. Go to Copper Blues before the show instead – you’re sure to start off with a smile.
Inside Copper Blues
: 50 W. Jefferson St. (CityScape), Phoenix
: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Thursday-Friday,
4 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, 4-10 p.m. Sunday
: Mac ‘n’ cheese baked with cheddar beer sauce ($7), smoked gouda cheese puffs ($4), filet bites with horseradish cream ($10), green pea guacamole with flat bread ($6), Copper Blues burger ($10), Cuban sandwich ($11), mozzarella, basil and sun-dried tomato pizza ($9), chicken and smoked gouda pizza ($11)
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