The Trophy Room

Written by Carey Sweet Category: Food Reviews Issue: August 2013
Group Free

Thanks to a celebrity-trained chef, this golf course resto’s food is well above par – in a good way.

Just a gimme-putt away from ASU golf shirts, Titleist golf balls, and Sparky head covers, you can find some of the Valley’s best casual-to-upscale cuisine at low prices. Located in the pro shop of Karsten Golf Course at ASU, the Trophy Room is a favorite 19th hole for golfers, but thanks to Chef Andrew Brosten’s innovative fare, it’s also a worthy option for foodies who wouldn’t know a slice from a shank.

Brosten previously worked under Chef Beau MacMillan at Elements in Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort, as well as celeb chefs Michel Richard, Robert Irvine, Patricia Yeo, Geoffrey Zakarian and Ming Tsai. His A-list experience is manifest in treats like chicken sliders ($7) – slow-roasted breast stuffed into homemade buttermilk biscuits, topped with crisp jalapeño bacon, and finished with caps of cheddar fondue. Every day, Brosten prepares a signature special, like pan-seared, crispy-skinned butterfish sprinkled with basil-coconut gremolata set atop a salad of pickled beech mushrooms and thick, velvety glacier lettuce, paired with coconut quinoa dotted with grilled pineapple, and moistened with basil-yuzu sauce. It costs $13. Such an entrée would cost twice as much at most places, but this is a breakfast-and-lunch-only eatery sporting utilitarian blonde wood tables within a few feet of Izod shirt racks, as well as a patio overlooking the lakeside 9th and 18th holes.

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Also excellent is a special of a double cut pork chop ($16) served atop sweet potato mash, bacon-braised cabbage and roasted lemon zest Brussels sprouts with pickled mustard seeds, finished with a dried cherry reduction. The chop is marinated with apples, onion, thyme, coriander seed, apple cider vinegar and brown sugar. The sweet potatoes are mashed with garlic, cream, honey, chipotle puree, brown sugar, molasses, thyme and goat cheese, while the cherry reduction sparkles with zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, sugar, grenadine, thyme, star anise, red wine vinegar and 90 percent cacao chocolate.

A catfish po’ boy ($12) elevates the humble sandwich with first-rate seafood lightly tempura-fried, tucked with crunchy coleslaw in a warm demi-baguette slathered with a terrific sweet-spicy roasted peach chutney. A delicate wash of maple aioli brightens a turkey burger ($11) that’s already noteworthy for its moist meatloaf texture studded with chiles on focaccia. I also love the big, pristine spinach salad tossed with roasted fennel, tomato, fingerling potatoes, bacon and pickled shallot in lemon poppy vinaigrette ($13). It takes away some of my guilt about finishing with an ice cream sandwich ($4) built around fresh-baked dark double chocolate chip cookies.

The bartender makes expertly balanced cocktails, including my beloved Moscow Mule – done with Russian Standard vodka, homemade ginger syrup, artisanal ginger beer and lime. The $6 price tag seems like a misprint in these days of double-digit craft beverages.

At breakfast, muffins ($2) are home-baked daily; a bagel is mounded with silky salmon, fluffy scrambled eggs, cream cheese, arugula, capers and tomatoes for just $9; and a parfait ($7) is layered with Greek yogurt, desert honey, homemade granola and fruit. A perfect start to the day, whether you’re hitting the fairways or hitting the freeways.

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The Trophy Room at ASU Karsten Golf Course
Address: 1125 E. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe
Phone: 480-921-8073
Hours: 7 a.m.-2 p.m. daily
Highlights: Chicken sliders ($7); catfish po’ boy ($12); turkey burger ($11); spinach salad ($13)