It’s hard to believe I have been married a year. Time is fleeting and the holidays are upon us. But we weren’t going to let work issues and holidays and life stand in the way of celebrating, so J. came to town and we did indeed celebrate. However, we did take a chance on our celebration dinner.
We debated about trying something tried and true, but after reviewing some menus online, we discussed the possibility of trying the newest steakhouse in town: Modern Steak. This was an unexpected opportunity because Modern Steak had been all over the news due to one item on the menu: a $76.00 steak. Unfortunately, that was the focus of most discussion surrounding Modern Steak and we finally looked at the menu online to see the fuss.
Yes, there sure was a steak for $76.00 on the menu. However, that was the most expensive thing on the menu and we were surprised at how reasonable the prices were overall. There were some steaks for around $25.00 and sides were all of $8.00. So, we through caution to the wind, booked a table for 8:00 PM and spent the rest of the day running errands.
At the appointed time, we arrived at Scottsdale Fashion Square and parked a few feet from the entrance. Sauntering in, we were cheerfully greeted and taken to a spacious table with banquets that were more like the sofa in the room where you can only tread during special occasions. We were handed menus and got comfortable.
Our first impressions were exceptionally favorable because the restaurant is simply gorgeous inside. The blue and white color combination with the lattice design on the walls and the sparkling chandeliers was a feast for the eyes. It was just on the cusp of being overdone, but it was still one of the prettiest interiors of a restaurant I have seen in some time.
Reviewing the menu again, we were struggling to come to some definitive decision on what to get. Our server arrived and asked for our drink order. We really weren’t prepared, so I ordered a Diet Coke ($3.00) and J. had an Iced Tea ($3.00). After some discussion, we had finally determined what we were going to do. To start our meal, I went with the Arugula and Sour Apple Salad ($12.00) and J. selected the Hot & Cold Wedge ($12.00). For the mains, J. wanted the Sonoma Rack of Lamb ($38.00) and I went for the Meyer All-Natural 12-ounce New York Strip ($29.00). For our side dishes, we couldn’t pass up the Mascarpone Creamed Corn ($8.00). We also ordered the Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Applewood Bacon ($8.00) and the Cheesy Potatoes with Caramelized Onions and Organic Fried Egg ($8.00). We also decided to get the Housemade Steak Sauce ($2.00).
When our waiter arrived with our initial drinks, we placed our order, but also opted to go for a couple of cocktails. The selections were a Perfect Pimm’s Cup ($9.00) for J. and the Modern Swizzle ($10.00) for me. Our waiter informed us that bread would be forth coming.
Sure enough, we had a member of the serving team arrive with a rectangular serving dish containing a Parmesan bread and a Potato Bread served with a spread made of Butter, Sour Cream and Chives. Both breads were fresh, moist and golden brown. Our favorite, though, was the potato bread with a generous slathering of the butter. That was an inspired creation as it did taste like a baked potato. Our meal was off to a great start.
About five minutes passed and our salads arrived. My Arugula and Sour Apple Salad was a mix of arugula, sour apples, balsamic onions, blue cheese and Candied Walnuts. It was very complex and the flavors were robust and hit the right notes. I appreciated the fact that the salad was intensely cold and fresh. The sour apples were actually the meat of the sour apples that had been obtained with a melon baller. The whole dish was very good.
J.’s Hot & Cold Wedge was an interesting creation. Two iceberg lettuce wedges were on the plate with the hot side getting a spinach salad-style treatment and the other being fixed in the traditional way. J. enjoyed both as, like my salad, the cold side was very cold and crisp. The hot said had a warm, bacon vinaigrette and a strip of extra crispy bacon lying across the grain. J. indicated, however, that a mix of the two was a wonderful feast for the mouth.
As we munched on our salads, our drinks arrived, which had me thinking as to why we got our salads before our cocktails, but there it was. The Perfect Pimm’s Cup and the Modern Swizzle were gorgeous with their multi-colored hues of red. The Perfect Pimm’s Cup was a concoction of gin, vermouth, cucumber, lime, lemon, orange, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, mint and a splash of soda water. J. found the drink very refreshing and loved that the fruit actually complimented the drink instead of overpowering it. He also noticed that these could easily put him under the table as the drink has almost no harsh alcohol flavor, but he could feel the “warm and tingling feet” feeling. My Modern Swizzle contained rum, lime juice, raspberry and orange bitters, and soda. Like the Pimm’s Cup, this was very refreshing and you could almost feel like you were on a porch on a lazy summer day in August in Phoenix sipping this drink. Not overly sweet and not tart, but just delicious.
After finishing our salads and sipping our beverages, we were suddenly set upon by three servers including our own. They were bearing our various dishes and replenishing the bread. J.’s Sonoma Rack of Lamb looked beautiful with two large, double-boned chops and a fall vegetable fricassee. J. found the vegetable to be very well prepared. He said everything was fresh and the veggies, thankfully, were not overcooked. He also liked the lamb itself, but found that the seasoning of the meat was inconsistent and part of the lamb was rather boring in taste. He said the addition of the Housemade Steak Sauce really enhanced the flavor of the lamb and save the dish, but he still felt the meat deserved better, or at least equal, treatment throughout.
My Meyer All-Natural Strip Steak was perfectly cooked and still sizzling a bit on the plate when it arrived. It had been liberally treated with black pepper and was served with a warm onion jam. My first bite was excellent. The meat was right at medium rare as I had requested and the beef flavor was supreme. The addition of the onion jam and the steak sauce made the steak that much better and I was mopping up the sauce from the sauce and the jam with some of the bread. What I appreciate most about my steak was that it was very tender and they allowed it to rest for a few moments so that the juices didn’t flow out. I was very pleased.
Along with our meats came the side dishes and we both dove in for the Cheesy Potatoes with Caramelized Onions and a Fried Egg. With J.’s consent, I burst the yolk of the egg and let it drizzle down the sides of the potatoes. J. and I both agreed that the potatoes dish was good, but somewhat on the bland side. We would have appreciated some sort of spice or garlic or even some sea salt. Still, the egg made the dish and we were happy with the combination of the ingredients.
The Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Applewood Smoked Bacon was exceptional. The sprouts had been cut into quarters, roasted and then tossed with pieces of the smoked bacon and the drippings from the bacon. Wow. If Brussels sprouts were served this way more often, kids wouldn’t be avoiding them like the plague. They were tender, full of flavor and not boiled to death. We were scraping the dish on this one.
The absolute best dish on the table, though, was with Mascarpone Creamed Corn. Hands down. In fact, I think it is probably one of the finest side dishes I have ever had in my life. It was sinfully rich and decadent and the flavors of the corn and mascarpone were a match made in heaven. It almost resembled a pudding in a way, but was much more intense and a bit more creamy than a pudding would be. All we knew was that we could have gone for a second or third serving of the creamed corn. It was stellar on every single level.
We were pleasantly full from our meal and we were polishing off the last of the bread when we were asked about dessert. We said we would take a look at the menu, but, we were rather full. I also mentioned to J. that the dessert menu seemed to lack the creativity and pizazz of the dinner menu. There was really nothing that stood out or piqued our interest. So, when our waiter returned, we requested our bill. The total for the excursion was $145.73 including tax. J. and I both felt that this was a very good value considering some of the creativity and surprises going on in the kitchen.
Service was outstanding. Our server was explanatory, patient and very engaging. We also liked the fact that everyone at the restaurant seemed very happy to help customers with questions and to check on tables to insure the dining experience was positive.
After paying the bill and heading to the car, J. and I were discussing how pleasantly surprised we were with Modern Steak. The menu was approachable, the food was, by and large, top notch and the service was great. Despite the concerns we had heard about the $76.00 steak, that was one item on a menu with a price point that is very fair for an upscale steakhouse in Scottsdale.
Modern Steak will be considered for future visits and rightly so.
7014 East Camelback Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Dress: Resort Casual on up.
Hours: Lunch – Monday through Saturday: 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Sunday 11:30 AM to 3:00 PM; Mid-Day Menu – Everyday: 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM; Dinner – Sunday through Thursday: 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM, Friday and Saturday: 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM.
Notes: Located on the southeast corner of Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall. Next to the restaurant is Modern Burger open noon to 4 PM daily.
Alcohol: Full bar.
Additional photos can be found at www.feastinginphoenix.com