Rancho Pinot Grill or Atlas Bistro? (PHX)
We ended up going to Rancho Pinot Grill, and really enjoyed it -- thanks for the review, geg5150! It did feel like most diners in the room were locals, even regulars, and the room was warmly lit and tastefully (!) adorned with wacky western memoribilia such as those stuffed rabbits with antlers.
Several items on the menu were seasonal. For example, I had a persimmon, asian pear, and pomegranate salad to start (~$9). Others were Rancho Pinot classics that have supposedly been on the menu for years, such as the skirt steak with chimichurri sauce (+fingerling potatoes, spinach, and bacon, ~$29) that geg5150 mentioned, and the grilled squid salad (with frisee and preserved lemon, ~$10). This was what my boyfriend had, and both were fabulous. I got the roast halibut with baby artichokes and cipollini onions in addition to my salad (~$29), delicious but not as good as his steak. Despite the western decor and feel, I would say that the primary influence here is Italian, though they probably wouldn't call themselves an Italian restaurant. (sorry, don't recall actual prices of dishes)
Service was *very* good -- professional yet comfortable. No pretention here. We ended on a high note with two great desserts -- pineapple upside-down cake with a in-house made, not-too-sweet coconut icecream, and an olive oil cake with braised (?) apples and caramel ice cream, both $7. My boyfriend "dislikes" dessert but he ate exactly half of each, which means they were exceptionally good. I, on the other hand, would have picked up both plates and licked them clean if I could. They should make spoons out of spatula material...
We are are not big drinkers and so I just had a glass of wine, and he had a beer. Note that this place is known for its great selection (hence the "Pinot" in the name); sorry I can't be more informative on this front. The total bill before tax/tip came out to $119.
I highly recommend the place.
Next stop, Atlas Bistro.
Haven't been to Rancho Pinot yet.
I've been to Atlas Bistro twice and had a great meal both times.
You can pick your wine at the AZ Wine store and you won't be charged a corkage fee or you can bring your own bottle and get charged around $8..
Atlas Bistro is small (like 10 tables) so be sure to reserve.
I did the Prix Fixe menu both times at Atlas Bistro so I could get sample of all the yummy food..
I had duck one time, beef the next..
We splurged on the bottle of wine if I remember correctly, the wine was $80ish or so. So, $110 makes it a little more reasonable. And, we both had apps, entress and desserts. Normally we have one app, two entrees and one desert.
Totally realistic to get out of there for $100 if you don't drink a bottle of wine.