“Houston’s for seafood fans.”
That was my Yelp-assisted initial impression of this high-toned California import, which debuted in upper Scottsdale’s Gainey Village area in November. It’s the latest and most-inland (by far) location in the emerging chain, which has found success delivering highly repeatable, upscale-but-not-astronomically-priced cuisine to diners in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.
For his Arizona landfall, owner David Cortina – a part-time Chandler resident who, interestingly, was arrested in Taiwan two years ago after a fatal remote-control glider accident – tapped Scottsdale, which makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? If you can think of a more Santa Barbara-esque city in the desert, I’d like to hear it.
The Scene: Nestled between POMO Scottsdale and Soi Four in the Gainey Village parking lot, Lure is bright, white and wainscoted – exactly what you might expect in a tasteful purveyor of coastal cuisine. There’s an inviting bar, a capacious patio for outdoor dining, and a fleet of collared, smartly-dressed servers on a sunny weekday afternoon.
Highlights: Cortina and his team have tailored a nice menu – expansive but not unwieldy, with a little something for everybody, assuming their “body” doesn’t burst into hives when they eat something fished out of the ocean. A quick scan of the menu reveals appealingly phrased starters like crab cakes with cilantro corn salad ($15), miso bass sea skewers ($15) and Veracruz chowder ($8); a trendy panoply of poke-style “bowls” ($17-$18); and a “from the grill” section ($18-$31) studded with interesting breeds, like sand dabs, Norwegian halibut and Idaho trout. We start with the miso sea bass, and it’s the star of our lunch – sweet, succulent and favorably reminiscent of the seminal Nobu favorite. The grilled rockfish entrée ($18), sided with pleasing fistful of crispy sweet potato fries, is skillfully cooked, with slightly spongey flesh that never begins that depressing slide into dryness. A similarly deft treatment of the sand dabs preserves the delicate, orange-roughy-like essence of oddly shaped, flatfish breed ($22), lightly sautéed with a lemon-caper-butter sauce. The two dishes make for an interesting study in contrasts, and their execution speaks of chefs and restaurateurs who genuinely respect – and get excited about – seafood.
One gripe: The entrées were a bit underseasoned, but management seems to have anticipated that complaint, providing a shaker of high-quality pink Himalayan sea salt at every table. Suffice to say, if you have high blood pressure and have been advised to watch your sodium, Lure is made to order.
And for everyone else: You’ll find disciplined, well-conceived staples perfect for a business lunch or low-key date, that are dependably dialed-in. Houston’s comparison: confirmed.
8877 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-676-3323, lurefishhouse.com