Over my years in the Valley of the Sun, I've had the pleasure to dine at the Ventana Room at the Lowe's Ventana Canyon in Tucson, AZ. I've done a review of each visit, and loved each. My last trip found some glitches, in both the food and the service, but it was still very good - just below the "excellent" that other trips elicited. It's now gone. It seems that it was a victim of the economy, especially regarding high-end dining at AZ resorts.
We lost the Arizona Room at the Wigwam Resort (Litchfield Park, AZ), and several other restaurants, Mary Elaine's, the Marquessa, and more.
Times are changing, and in my book, not for the better. Some of these have been replaced by steakhouses, and some with famous chefs. My question would be, how many steakhouses does Phoenix, or Tucson need? Most that I have dined at, have not been worth a second trip. It's not that their steaks were not good, it's just that I can do better on my grill, and for US$60/main, I expect something special. None has even come close to delivering that.
Now, I am not advocating supporting a high-end restaurant, just for posterity's sake, as we are all feeling pinches on our dining-out budgets, but I worry that soon the entire dining scene will be either a Morton's or a Chili's. To me, each is an "adult McDonalds," just at different price-points. Is this what we really want?
I will miss the Ventana Room, and feel fortunate that there are still a few other fine-dining options in Tucson for our travels there. In Phoenix, we've lost some gems, but there are still a few chef-driven restaurants that offer some form of culinary innovation.
Just a sad lament,