The chef behind Grassroots Kitchen & Tap opens a like-minded gastropub... and it’s right next door.
When I heard Chef Christopher Collins opened Twisted Grove Parlor + Bar a stone’s throw from his venerable Grassroots Kitchen & Tap, I was a bit perplexed. How could two sister establishments thrive in such close proximity? Like Grassroots, Twisted Grove Parlor + Bar is a casual neighborhood haunt that serves elevated American cuisine, but as it turns out, each restaurant has its own singular vibe and the menus don’t have much overlap.
In the McCormick Ranch-area space that most recently housed Scottsdale Station, Twisted Grove boasts an ambitious floor plan – a full dining room, 20-seat bar, large outdoor patio and a private party area. It has a modern farmhouse vibe, with retro wallpaper and wooden tables mingling with contemporary light fixtures and chairs.
Collins’ nonthreatening menu has broad appeal – small plates, salads, sandwiches, flatbreads, entrées and desserts – an interesting assortment of 14 “fine cocktails” (all $9), including a white cosmo; a wine list with more than 30 choices; and a number of draft and bottled beers.
Even the most ardent Brussels sprouts hater will enjoy the small plate of these little charred delights ($9), served spilling out of a Mason jar. Roasted and flash-fried, the crisp mini cabbages are dotted with candied bacon, smooth balsamic vinegar reduction and elephant garlic. Another successful starter, the bruschetta board ($12), made with local John Anthony Italian bread, offers a choice of four toppings, including a sweet mash-up of creamy goat cheese and sugary dates, candied walnuts and honey.
The twisted noodle salad ($16) combines a spicy mix of thin buckwheat soba noodles, chopped kale, avocado, mango, cucumbers, coconut and cashews dressed with a much-too-generous ladle of chili-lime vinaigrette and a choice of steak or shrimp. The steak was gristly, but overall, the salad has merit.
The main dishes give Collins a chance to flex his culinary muscles. The gnocchi and short ribs ($17) – four meaty and tender off-the-bone ribs atop buttery gnocchi, with carrots, kale and red jalapeño in a broth-based reduction sauce – is spot-on. Not everyone can make respectable gnocchi, but Collins has it mastered. For fish seekers, the white sea bass ($26) offers two pieces of blackened fish draped with a delicate shallot-lemon beurre blanc and served over thin strands of al dente spaghetti squash tickled with tart shallot-lemon butter and sprinkled with a good dose of Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s a nice catch, but not half as nice as the crab cakes ($29). The breaded and pan-fried delights are packed with luscious hunks of jumbo lump crab and have a crust as light as cotton candy.
For dessert, try the tres leches cake ($7), a spongy white cake loaded with fresh whipped cream, mixed berries and salted caramel, or the chocolate cheesecake ($7) with brownie crust.
At times the service was lacking, with long waits to order when the restaurant wasn’t busy and confusion about who was waiting on us, but otherwise friendly and attentive. Fans of Collins’ upscale comfort fare face a subtle dilemma when choosing between Twisted Grove and the more Southern-inflected and – dare I say it? – masculine Grassroots, but the restaurants are recognizably kin. The possibility that this little corner of Scottsdale will sustain both speaks to the chef’s populist touch.
Twisted Grove Parlor + Bar
Contact: 8220 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale, 480-699-0811, twistedgrove.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. M-Th; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. F-Sa; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Su
Highlights: Charred Brussels sprouts ($9); gnocchi and short ribs ($17); crab cakes ($29); bruschetta ($12)
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