ArizonaGirl and I met for what has become our monthly dinner together. This time we met at Sportsman's wine bar. I really liked this place - a retail wine and liquor store with an outdoor patio and a small bar serving a limited but varied menu consisting of cheese platters, sandwiches, and salads. We sat down for an early dinner, with friendly service from our knowledgeable bartender, Jason. I enjoyed my grilled Pastrami Reuben with Gruyere, “Fat Tire Amber Ale” braised Sauerkraut and roasted red pepper aioli, while my partner in crime had the caprese panini. Jason had attended culinary school, so he joined in - what else - talking about food. Some of the other things I liked about this spot was that if you buy any of the wines you order by the glass, the bottle is discounted at the by-the-case price. Also, you can pick out a bottle in the adjoining store to have served along with your meal for an extra $5.00. It's conveniently close by, so I know I'll be returning to Sportsman's to relax on a sunny afternoon and sample some great wine. They also have weekly wine tastings and spirits tastings, along with wine dinners. After a discussion about a cocktail I had on our last visit to Cowboy Ciao, I left with a bottle of St. Germain elderflower cordial (great addition to the home bar!), along with a bottle of wine that I enjoyed with dinner.
The next night I was fortunate enough to spend time with another CH, who I was meeting for the first time. I felt like I already "knew" Katie Nell from the Home Cooking Board, and she's just as sweet and funny as her internet persona ; ) She was in on business staying at a hotel in Chandler so we checked out some of the prior posts for this area, and E and I drove down to meet her at Latitude 30. I was impressed when I walked in - what a beautiful restaurant. We started with a couple of appetizers, which were better in description than in execution (not bad, just okay - Curried Spring Rolls, and the Fusion Sampler). Entrees fared better - E had the lobster and vanilla bisque to start, with the white truffle grilled filet and prosciutto and cheddar mash, for Katie the macadamia-nut and avocado stuffed ahi (I loved the side of Forbidden Black Rice - something I don't see often though I love to cook with it at home), and for me a favorite fish - glazed butterfish, perfectly cooked. The ingredients were top-quality and I liked the creativity of the combinations, but across the board I think everything could have been less sweet. Service was great though - we started with drinks at the bar and the bartender Paul took such good care of us we canceled our reserved table and enjoyed our meal there.
This week we went with another couple to one of my favorite restaurants - Voltaire. Service was excellent, our waitress Erica was efficient and friendly, and Martin was as gracious and welcoming as the first time we went. No complaints here, and if possible, we thought dinner was even better than last time. Between the four of us, we ordered the escargot, sauteed foie gras, the tableside warm spinach salad, and the Caesar salad (they were out of Romaine so made a surprisingly delicious version with baby spinach which we weren't charged for). Entrees were the Coquilles St. Jacques with calvados, veal saute Grenobloise with lemon butter and capers, filet bearnaise, and for me the special of soft-shell crabs. To finish, E loves the profiteroles, which he ordered, while the rest of us had our favorite - the "Coupe Aux Marrons", French vanilla ice cream topped with candied chestnuts and a splash of Grand Marnier. A wonderful meal all around. I just love this place, the classy but comfortable old-school feel that's not over the top, friendly service, and excellent renditions of the French classics.
St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
8340 E McDonald Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85250
6685 W Beardsley Rd, Glendale, AZ
7777 S Pointe Pkwy W, Phoenix, AZ