Restaurants & Bars

Southwest Scottsdale Trip Report

Scottsdale Trip Report - Long


Restaurants & Bars 2

Scottsdale Trip Report - Long

Jack Flash | Apr 4, 2006 12:09 AM

First, thanks to all who responded to my thread with their recommendations, as well as the various Scottsdale recommendations I found in other threads. Here's what we wound up doing:

Thu.: Arrived at the hotel a bit later than we anticipated. By the time we got out for dinner, it was after 9:30. Had wanted to try Los Sombreros, but learned that it closed at 9. Wound up with a surprisingly good meal at the Old Town Tortilla Factory, about a one-block walk from the Valley Ho. The patio was very pleasant; that alone was worth the price of admission, so to speak. We shared a shrimp cocktail appetizer; the jumbo prawns were a bit tough (they often are; I prefer the slightly smaller ones), but the fruit-based cocktail sauce was quite interesting.

For our mains, we selected the Pollo Margarita and the Red Chile pork chop. Pork lends itself well to sweet/spicy treatment, and this one did not disappoint. Surprisingly good garlic mashed potatoes. The chicken was a good selection.

Fri. lunch: a slow start to the day meant that we missed the breakfast hours at the Valley Ho, so we did lunch instead at the hotel's Cafe ZuZu. I had the cheeseburger, which was a good, THICK patty cooked med. rare as requested, with juices that ran all over my hands. The way a burger should. Served on a dense, house-baked bun that was sort of brioche-like in appearance. Also a grilled cheese sandwich: good, sharp Gruyere & Tillamook, on grilled whole wheat. My quibble: not grilled enough, so the cheese wasn't completely gooey and melted. I also like a bit more caramelization on the bread. Both were served with fresh-made potato chips, which were pefectly delightful. Still kinda warm, still kinda chewy, but starting to turn crunchy.

Fri. dinner: browsing through various periodicals, we found an ad for a place called Drift, a Tiki/Polynesian restaurant and lounge. Well, my GF and I LOVE Tiki stuff, & I had my best reproduction Aloha shirt with me, so we couldn't resist. Way cool atmosphere & great fun tropical drinks. Though nominally a restaurant, it seems to place a greater emphasis on the lounge/bar part of the operation. Nevertheless, the food more than serves its purpose. We ordered a Pu-Pu Platter, which did justice to its name. An assortment of spare ribs, beef, chicken & shrimp skewers, some gyoza-style potstickers, and what they call "Bali Bottle Rockets." They've basically mini-eggrolls filled with a shrimp "rangoon"-style filling of baby shrimp and cream cheese. I'd have been happier with some rumaki instead of the beef skewers, but oh well. This was accompanied by a trio of sauces: teriyaki, sweet & sour, and a vinegar-based dip.

Not wanting full meals after the riches described above, we continued with additional appetizers, to wit: shaved coconut shrimp and outrigger tuna poke, the former served with a pineapple-based sweet & sour (not the same as served with the PPP). Good large shrimp with a crunchy (and not the slightest bit greasy) coconut "breading." The sauce was a nice accompaniment, but there should be more than three in an order.

Poke came with a "mango cucumber relish," which was really more of a slab of mango, and several ribbons of cucumber layered together. The effect would be better if these items really were more in the form of a relish, because they'd be easier to combine with the delicate chunks of ahi. Could have used a bit more kick for me; some diced Thai green chiles would have been appropriate. But the dish was flavored nicely, and the fish was diced properly and still nice & firm.

Sat. breakfast: this time, we made it for breakfast at ZuZu. Sat outside on the patio, under umbrellas. I highly recommend the experience. She had the Denver omelet sans onions. The meat in this version is maple-cured pork loin in place of the traditional ham. A surprising and tasty substitute. Served with roasted new potatoes, which are cooked well-done. Personally, that's the only way I really like this kind of potato. Some prefer them cooked much more lightly; those people might not be so crazy about these. But if you like them to be a bit crispy & charred at the edges, and well-spiced, then you'll like 'em.

I had the banana buttermilk pancakes. Instead of slicing bananas into the batter, these are really just regular pancakes, but they've got a layer of banana "pudding" (basically, pureed banana, with maybe some cream or something to make it pudding-like) spread between each cake, and on the top. This was really good, especially once they were drowned in additional butter and maple syrup. Very sweet & filling, but fun.

Ordered a side of ham (two slices, about 1/8 thick, smoky) and a "fresh-baked cinnamon roll." The roll is drenched in a sugary glaze...actually, a bit too much for me, but not for my GF.

Sat. dinner: Roaring Fork. Seems to be a consensus pick around here and we understood why. Nothing all that surprising on the menu, save the desserts; but what we ordered was well-executed and satisfying. Shared an iceberg wedge...well, that's exactly what it was. The crispy shards of bacon that accompanied the lettuce was perfectly cooked so that it was crunchy without being the slightest bit burnt. They served each of us half the order without us having to specifically ask, which was a nice service touch we appreciated.

For mains, we settled on the beef tenderloin for her, and the duck breast for me. I LOVE duck, but I think I liked hers better. There wasn't enough of the onion jam/sour cherry mustard for the large serving of breast meat (which was cooked med. rare as requested). This was served with "little cabbages," which appeared to be slices of brussels sprouts, or something similar. There were not whole "little cabbages" on the plate. This was more of a garnish than a true side dish. There should have been something more on the plate, or I would have appreciated being alerted to this, as I would have ordered one. The tenderloin, for example, came with a side of "green chile" mac & cheese. There was enough of this for us to share, but I would have liked to have my own side.

Shared an Andes Mint chocolate cake for dessert. This was really good. Mint-flavored layers of cake, with a chocolate icing and bits of Andes mints on top. Served with a vanilla-bean ice cream (they'd run out of the chocolate mint ice cream). I think there may have been a hint of mint in this ice cream, too. Whatever, everything was very minty. If you like Andes mints as I do, this dessert is for you.

Followed this up with another dessert back at the hotel - lemon meringue pie. Perfect merinque: nicely browned, and it did NOT slide off the lemon filling. Barely even budged.

Sun. brunch: again at the hotel, on the patio. Eggs benedict for both of us, served with roasted potatoes. This version uses the maple cured pork loin referenced in the Denver omelet to good effect. The poached eggs were probably cooked about 30 seconds too long, for me - I like 'em a tad runny, and these had pretty much congealed. A delicate, restrained application of the Hollandaise.

Good strong coffee. They also serve something called a frosty orange "Ho-J." If you've ever had an Orange Julius, you'd recognize this except that it's made with fresh-squeezed OJ. If you've never had an Orange Julius...well, I'm sorry. But think about what an orange Bang! or other whipped beverage aspires to be, and that's an Orange Julius.

Thanks to all who made suggestions. We hope to be back there again. There seemed to be no shortage of places to enjoy a nice dinner out.

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