Negative Report on Christopher's
I just read a report on on Christopher's in Stephen Lemons' blog Feathered Bastard:
Seems the health dept. shut it down for a day.
FYI, Lemons used to be food critic for the Phoenix New Times. Now he's their gossip columnist.
I've only eaten at Christopher's once. Seemed OK, but didn't blow me away.
Consider the source of this information. Lemons' writing is generally not respected on this board. Yes, a quick visit to the Maricopa County Environmental Services Web site confirms this incident, but it needs to be taken in the context of a steady string of gold and silver awards over many years.
Lemons loves to slaughter sacred cows, and it is therefore unsurprising that he would present this one incident, no matter how unfortunate, out of context.
re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
I remember that review. I somewhat agreed with the basic conclusion that Gross may be resting on his laurels, but, as usual, the writer's bombastic prose made it sound like the restaurant is absolutely awful, which I don't think is true. This recent inspection aside, I tend to think that a full multi-course dinner at Fermier may not always be exciting enough to warrant the price tag, but Fermier's more modestly priced winebar menu has long been a favorite for good late night meals.
I love critics who take into account personal bias when they write reports. It takes me back to his review of My Florist Cafe last year. That was a fun read.
Though I've not dined there in some time, I have always had very good meals with matching service. Was any the best that I had ever eaten? Nah, probably not, but good and a good value.
Only problem that I ever had was a wine selection, earlier on. I had chosen a Northern Rhône Syrah and they were out of it. Paola offered a substitute. The wine that I had chosen was ~US$125/btl. and we were having three. The substituted wine (not on their list) turned out to be ~US$350! OK, I guess that I should have asked, but with board members in the group, I didn't, and assumed (obviously, incorrectly), that the substitute would be similar in price, and would have hoped that the server, or Paola would have mentioned the vast difference. Live n' learn. Only complaint that I have ever had with Christopher's.
Stephen Lemons thinks Christopher's is overrated, and doesn't pretend to be unbiased. I've had some great food at Christopher's, but their inconsistency makes it easy for me to eat elsewhere.
I have also had some great meals at Christopher's. Then, on my last encounter, I had a snooty waiter tell me that my cold, undercooked and runny chocolate souffle was "supposed to be that way." I made my appeal to the manager who informed me that I should send a message to the waiter via the tip.
I may try it again, but it isn't actively on my radar.
I dine frequently at Christopher's (mostly due to its convenient location to the office).
I am in complete agreement that Christopher seems to be resting on his laurels. The menu doesn't seem to change much. There is little creativity exercised in the kitchen. The decor could use an update.
Basically, Christopher's is a solid place but stands out due to its location-- a sea of formulaic, corporate chains.
I ate dinner at Fermier last night. Someone else suggested it and was willing to treat. I believe it was my first time there since the infamous "Sour Lemons" review. To quote the Talking Heads, the experience was "the same as it ever was." In this case, that's a positive comment. As I stated above, there may be some resting on laurels occuring, but those laurels are pretty impressive.
It's important to remember that the full name of the restaurant is Christopher's Fermier Brasserie, and a brasserie is basically a tavern or neighborhood restaurant serving hearty, comforting food, not a laboratory of culinary innovation. Of course the prices are more Biltmore than Brasserie, but the winebar menu and late-night leftovers present a more affordable alternative.
Service was professional, courteous, and efficient, and nothing I saw concerned me in terms of sanitation or food safety.