A more approachable Binkley’s? The perennial James Beard contender satisfies expectations at his new Scottsdale outpost. Kevin Binkley is a masterful chef – and it was never up for debate. From the moment the James Beard-nominated culinarian opened his eponymous post-nouvelle showplace Binkley’s in Cave Creek, his chapter of influence on Phoenix dining was written and filed.
But can his culinary magic survive the challenges of expansion? That was the question that greeted Bink’s Midtown in Phoenix when it opened last year, and – to a lesser extent – one that now faces his follow-up Bink’s concept in Scottsdale. Happily, we get the same boring answer: yup. Making a visible pivot toward a more accessible dining experience, Binkley embraces ingredient-driven seasonal menus and small plates, with starched formality thrown to the wind.
A near doppelganger food-wise to Bink’s Midtown and its globally-hued New American menu, Bink’s Scottsdale relies less on the intimate charms of a polished neighborhood bistro, and more on conventional big-city airs, with contemporary lines framed in neutral tones and flattering accent lighting.
The menu covers a lot of edible real estate, and is prone to frequent variations reflecting Binkley’s season-driven whims. A primary menu of appetizers and entrées runs parallel to a list of vegetable-centric small plates labeled “Local Produce.” The jicama salad ($9) is a tailored intro to what works best at Bink’s. Thick matchsticks of juicy jicama, chili, fresh dill, sesame, cucumber and chickpeas fork wonderfully together with feta as it’s folded into slightly sour Greek yogurt. Grilled romaine hearts ($6) with bacon, chopped egg, parmesan and rich garlic dressing hints at a renewed version of the classic blue cheese wedge. Appetizers on the primary menu hit all the fine-dining major keys: foie gras, sweetbreads, octopus and roasted marrow bones. The foie ($21) is given a balancing treatment with bitter greens and bites of squash French toast lacquered in decadent house-made apple butter. Sweetbread nuggets ($12) are good for a bite or two; however, the rich gland-flesh gets muddled under a glossy sweet-and-sour sauce. The green chile pork pupusa ($8) is a prize – doughy and passively sweet, under a creamy green salsa.
Entrées are familiar to Binkley enthusiasts, beginning with Amy’s Bolognese ($18), a rich stew of veal, pork and pancetta ladled over buttery, soft polenta. Five-spice duck breast ($23) is deliciously served with grilled grapes and a port vinaigrette. The apple-glazed pork chop ($22) – not currently offered at Bink’s Midtown – uses a refreshingly savory cider glaze to complement the well-seasoned chops, served with soft roasted turnips and wild rice.
Bink’s Scottsdale doesn’t technically qualify as destination dining, since it’s now one of a series, but it comes as close to that distinction as any quote-unquote neighborhood restaurant in the Valley. Carving out an enchanted niche where creativity and pragmatism aren’t mutually exclusive, Binkley confidently strides into the ranks of restaurateurs, and we’re fortunate to experience the spoils of his labor.
Cuisine: New American
Contact: 6107 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-664-9238
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9:00 p.m. Sunday
Highlights: Green chile pork pupusa ($8); foie gras ($21); five-spice duck breast ($23); Amy’s Bolognese ($18)
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