Hi Phoenix hounds,
Did a whirlwind tour through the Valley last week, wanted to throw in my $0.02:
Brat Haus - was surprised this place wasn't more crowded. Fun atmosphere, terrific homemade brats (including some inventive flavors like duck, date, coriander, fennel seed, and orange zest), tasty bread, really impressive selection of beers. Definitely a hit, I'll make it a point to go back.
Central Bistro - on the minus side, there wasn't a trace of local color here...it's an upscale restaurant that could exist in basically any urban center in the States. On the plus side, everything was beautifully done. Great east coast oysters, wonderful risotto with wood-grilled vegetables, pretty good (not house made) charcuterie plate, ok cocktails, decent wine list, fun patio, I'd go back.
Last Drop at Hermosa Inn - impressive cocktail list (bartender consistently made everything a shade too sweet, but fine), fun little bar menu. We sat outside on the patio and listened to a decent solo guitarist. Not exactly a super chowish destination but I'd be hard pressed to think of a nicer spot to sit in the whole city.
Baratin - mildly annoyed here. Tasty-ish foods made with local ingredients, but such an odd, short menu that didn't really fit together. The plantain chips and black bean dip were sort of bland and soulless, the grilled Brussels sprouts were remarkably oily despite their excellent flavor, the duck rillettes with pistachio butter seemed a little too heavy (yes, even for rillettes) and not fully considered. I dig the menu-of-the-moment idea, but it just didn't gel for me. I will say that my Meyer lemonade with mesquite honey was about perfect, and the digs are laid-back and fun.