Restaurateur Pavle Milic and Chef Charleen Badman hope the answer is “a lot.” At their new Baratin bistro in downtown Scottsdale, the duo is banking on a handwritten menu composed solely of a snack, salad, pâté, vegetarian plate, sandwich and dessert – as in just one of each, and served in a somewhat stark, rust-ochre-colored café set with industrial metal chairs, wood-topped tables, and a wall hung with painted plates.
The idea is simple: As owners of the locavore-driven FnB restaurant on Fifth Avenue and Stetson Drive around the corner, Milic and Badman understand the appeal of a classy neighborhood eatery with a modest but well-conceived menu. Baratin takes the concept even further, catering to the discerning but time-pressed diner.
Thus the 700-square-foot, 28-seat Baratin reassembles some of FnB’s culinary concepts into dishes perfect for a quick bite or take-out. Offerings change daily; if trout is an entrée at FnB, we can get it at Baratin, fashioned into a rillette sparked with horseradish crème fraîche and garnished with crunchy fennel salad and fresh radishes ($8).
Set in a storefront at the 1950s Kiva Center Courtyard Shops building, notable for its emerald green lawn and elaborate tile mosaic exterior, Baratin is disarming from the first. The doting staff explains the daily-changing choices of Arizona beers and wines (just two of each, including red, white and sometimes a rosé), plus a cocktail du jour, such as a French inspired Vesper of gin, vodka and Lillet ($7).
If there’s a knock, it’s the same one I’ve had with FnB: redundancy in the menu. Badman is a superb chef but tends to stick to the same recipes. So if you like her FnB favorite of butterscotch pudding ($8), you’ll find it again at Baratin. A pretty-as-it-is-tasty clutch of grilled broccoli topped with fried egg, butter croutons and olives in a swath of whole grain mustard aioli ($7) reminds me of similar dishes at FnB. I can also only eat so many pâté-like rillettes before craving something different (one evening, the same fennel-radish bed supports pork pâté instead of trout, $8).
Still, with its sassy mood, Parisian bistro ambiance and exquisite boutique ingredients, Baratin offers much to love. Add the charm of two of the Valley’s most sincere culinary talents, and what’s the answer to how much I appreciate this FnB offshoot? “A lot.”
Address: 7125 E. Fifth Ave., Scottsdale
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Highlights: Menu changes daily.
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