First Dish: Valentine

Nikki BuchananJanuary 25, 2021
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Chadwick Price and mixology ninja Blaise Faber (best loved for his brilliant cocktails at Tratto) have teamed up to open this sweetheart of an all-day restaurant parked at the front end of Modern Manor, Ryan Durkin’s mid-century modern furniture store in the Melrose District. Chef Donald Hawk (the guy who started The Gladly’s popular raw bar program) oversees the menu and kitchen, which turns out exceptional baked goods, breakfast dishes, snacks, burgers, small plates, coffee and cocktails.

Location/Contact
4130 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix, 602-277-5561, valentinephx.com

Opened
December 2020

The Scene
Taking a design cue from Modern Manor, Valentine looks open, airy and minimalist, featuring a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, turquoise booths and terra cotta-colored barrel chairs in a large, sunlit room configured for various purposes: grabbing a quick breakfast or lunch at a table, sipping coffee and hunkering down over a computer or relaxing over cocktails and wine. Order at a counter and take a number.

Highlights
The all-day menu feels a bit random at this point, but that’s the freewheeling beauty of it. Have breakfast and a margarita or do as I did and mix it all up: eggnog and dessert first, then a late lunch with ambrosial yuzu lemonade, savory and refreshing. FYI, that spectacularly good Italian eggnog, enriched with local eggs and cream, probably won’t last long. If you fancy one, better get there sooner than later. Then again, can you go wrong with any of Farber’s cocktails?

Hiramasa crudo seems destined to be a signature dish, the naturally buttery yellowtail set in a puddle of brown butter and fish sauce-enhanced tomatillo vinaigrette, then sprinkled with charred golden raisins and diced iitoi onion for a salty, tangy, faintly sweet umami dance that still feels light on the palate.  It’s the best thing I’ve tried to date, which is not to cast aspersions on gloriously dense, ridiculously crunchy hushpuppies, jacked up with fermented cabbage and glazed with blackstrap molasses, or a breakfast sandwich (think house-made sausage, egg and fancy pimiento cheese) built on orange-y, brioche-like butternut squash bread.

Don’t miss the sweets, courtesy of Antonia Kane, who learned her craft at San Francisco’s iconic Tartine. Think date-studded, orange water-scented sticky buns, draped in caramel frosting and littered with bits of rose petal. I can’t wait to get back here, but for now, I’ll just say, Valentine, I heart you.

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