My wife and I tried Bar Tepo in Dana Park this weekend - independent fine dining restaurants are pretty rare out here and had high hopes for this new place.
Tucked into the corner of the new section of Dana Park, the restaurant is visually quite appealing. There's a surprisingly large patio, with numerous tables plus a number of couches for lounging while having drinks at the bar, which opens directly onto the patio. Very cool, although the view is essentially the parking lot. Inside, the minimalist decor with an open kitchen works pretty well - its airy and bright due to the extremely high ceilings and wall of windows (I can't imagine what the AC bill will be this summer!). It may be a bit too simple for some tastes, but I think its easily one of the best looking restaurants in the East Valley.
We started with the artichoke and boursin cheese puffs and prime rib stuffed poblano chile (essentially a chile relleno). The cheese puffs were very good, surprisingly light, although the bacon and cheese dipping sauce was a bit heavy and hardly needed. The relleno was gorgeous looking, plump and lightly fried, accompanied by a mango salsa and a bed of field greens. Packed with steak and a familiar looking cheese sauce, the filling really didn’t live up to its appearance. While the steak was very tender, there just wasn’t any spice, or quite frankly much else with any discernible flavor. Very bland and quite disappointing.
For entrees, we ordered the seared tuna and the southwestern chicken cordon bleau. Normally I’m not one to order chicken breast dishes while dining out, but it sounded intriguing and was recommended by the waitress. The chicken breast, covered with a now very familiar cheese sauce, this time with chiles, was accompanied by bacon mashed potatoes. The potatoes were luke warm, but palatable. The chicken, again looked nice, but was very dull. The cheese sauce had little spice, the chicken had little flavor, and when I cut into the middle of it, hoping for some surprise stuffed inside, all I got was more cheese sauce. A little ham would have gone a long way there. Sadly, my wife’s tuna was much the same. Good presentation, but very bland. The tuna was rare, as requested, but ice cold and just lacking much taste. The upside was that the accompanying lobster tempura ball was very good.
Not in the mood to try our hand at dessert, we made our excuses and headed out, pretty disappointed. The food was pricey, drinks even more so. Our bill, which included the above plus a cocktail, a beer and two glasses of wine was $95 prior to the tip. In retrospect, the salads and sandwiches looked far better than the entrees, although everything we had ‘looked’ very good. I’ll perhaps try back for lunch, but it may be awhile.
So, is the reason the SE Valley has such a poor track record for fine dining due to our lack of interest, or just the fact that most of the restaurants just fail to deliver? I really miss Duel on Power Rd...
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