Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails at the Hotel Palomar in Downtown Phoenix has long been lauded for its creative cocktail program and deftly executed New American dishes. Now, the restaurant has a new chef, who recently revamped the menu to reflect the vibrancy and energy of its location and quality ingredients from local farmers. Blue Hound also launched an all-new drink lineup, a coterie of cocktails that pair perfectly with the thoughtful fare coming out of the kitchen.
Chef Brian Peterson, who took over in August, says the new menu is sophisticated but approachable, featuring comfort food classics such as an elevated, “adult” macaroni and cheese dish with linguica, tallegio, grape, arugula and sambuca and chicken wings with whipped carrots, celery hearts and Pt. Reyes blue cheese.
Peterson loves surprises. While the new menu is chock-full of them (think inventive condiments such as black garlic hummus, carrot jam and green peppercorn aioli), he takes it a step further by offering daily, chef-driven creations including his “Pasta of the Moment” and “Chef’s Cut of the Day.” But if you want a real surprise, opt for the new “Trust the Team” five-course tasting experience, with optional wine or cocktail pairings.
Charred octopus | Photo by Madison Rutherford
Whether you opt for this omakase-style option or order from the menu, it’s sure to be a daring dining experience filled with innovative flavors. I was recently invited to try the new menu offerings, and while I certainly do “trust the team,” I wanted to control my own culinary destiny. Here are the highlights.
I’m never one to go into a restaurant completely unprepared, so you better believe I researched the menu ahead of time. The dish I was most looking forward to: charred octopus. Blue Hound’s version comes with two blackened tendrils perched on a trio of savory sauces that add color, texture and a healthy dose of interesting flavors (creamy, sage-colored blistered tomato garlic emulsion, thick garlic hummus and coal black squid ink), plus sautéed heirloom tomatoes hovering over the trio of sauces like juicy little clouds. It did not disappoint.
I was also intrigued by the “Pasta of the Moment,” dreaming up what noodles I might be met with before I even set foot in the restaurant. I have quite the penchant for pasta and I knew whatever carb-laden dish Peterson had pegged for that day would be perfect. In that moment, the pasta was an ethereal gnudi (think gnocchi’s lighter cousin, thanks to ricotta instead of potato), each dainty dumpling swimming in a sage butter sauce gilded with sautéed spinach and shaved Parmesan. Divine.
Pasta of the Moment | Photo by Madison Rutherford
The beverage list boasts an impressive array of microbrews, bourbon flights, Champagne, wine and local draft beer. But, of course, the meal wouldn’t be complete without trying some of Blue Hound’s award-winning craft cocktails, which all include syrups and tinctures that are made by hand daily. I’m a mezcal maven who’s partial to fruity flavor profiles, so I was immediately enamored with the Red & Smoky, which is equal parts smoky, spicy and sweet thanks to Los Vecinos mezcal’s signature char, poblano chile liqueur and hibiscus. The must-try: The Campfire. The bourbon-based tipple arrives at the table on a wooden plank, on which the server lifts an overturned glass to allow a billow of herbal smoke to emerge from underneath. Served neat with a single sprig of rosemary, it’s rich and herbaceous and perfect for slow sipping while you wait for dessert to arrive.
When it does, you’ll want to have your phone handy to take a picture of the colorful confections – crème brûlée topped with fresh fruit and mango and raspberry sorbet. It’s almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
Sorbet and crème brûlée | Photo by Madison Rutherford
Peterson’s capability and creativity in the kitchen is a testament to Downtown’s flourishing foodie scene. I can’t wait to see what surprises he comes up with next.
2 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix, 602-258-0231, bluehoundkitchen.com