Different Pointe of View (PHX)
Got birthday dinner coming up and trying to come up with a new-2-us place that is very nice with great food and service. We had a horrible experience at the pub the Hilton Tapatio, but I've heard that POV is actually good. Anybody been recently and can comment?
went there on 2/3. was a good meal but didn't blow us away. wouldn't caution you from staying away but wouldn't wholeheartedly endorse it either.
nothing at all was bad but much of it didn't stand out either. we did the tasting menu one. i don't even remember the foie gras though multiple foie gras orders after that (1 from t cooks and 2 from binkley's) directly stand out in my mind. i did really enjoy the lobster bisque as it was excellent and happens to be one of my favorites. my wife, not being a huge lobster bisque fan, swapped out for mushroom consume which didn't do too much for her. she too thought the bisque was excellent and regretted her decision. i do remember that the barramundi was a really nice piece of fish but we thought the sauce/chowder that accompanied it was overly salty & didn't do it justice. the lamb dish was good but unremarkable as well.
some of it might have just been that we had an odd server we didn't click with. other than the lobster bisque, the best thing we got was when we went completely against his recommendations and ordered ordered the savory ice creams. they were interesting and very good. ordered 2 other deserts which were good but nothing exceptional.
we did see some folks getting some pretty interesting looking food though. think they were doing the tasting menu two. if we were to go back again, we would likely do that.
shortly after that visit, we did a t cooks visit around valentine's day and our first binkley's visit on 3/1. would put both of those experiences much higher than the pov one. the binkley's one was so much better to not even be comparable. it has eclipsed anything we've had here in az for certain (other than possibly sea saw).
just one point about binkley's that i think says a lot about it. at pov, to do the tasting menu (which is set), we both had to get it. at binkley's, anybody can do the tasting and if multiple people do tastings, they can get completely different things (in fact they recommend it). binkley's tasting menu is not set at all. you pick the number and type of courses and then select the dish for each course! i've never seen a tasting menu with that flexibility. to me, it says a couple things. 1) bring it on, we can handle whatever you want and 2) every one of our dishes is worthy. then add to that the fact that the menu changes daily????
I am with you one DPOV. I can be very good, but in eight years, I've only had "great" once, and that chef is long gone. Unfortunately, it's within the Hilton "corporate" umbrella, so the chef has far less control, than one might think. That's a prime reason why they've turned over several chefs. Note: it was once a chef-driven, free-standing restaurant. Other than leasing the space from the Hilton, they were under no control from the corporate offices.
We've yet to do the "tasting menu" at Binkley's, as all of our visits have been for functions, and all were great. Two other restaurants, that I've reviewed recently, have tasting menus, similar to Binkley's: Chef Mavro's (Honolulu) and The Ventana Room (Tucson). Even with only two of us dining at Chef Mavro's, I had lines drawn all over the menu, just to keep track of what we each had - I the six-course, my wife the four-course. There was even an eleven-course spread, that I WILL do next time. At the Ventana Room, we were a party of four, and the mix-n-match was no less daunting, especially when I tried to reconstruct what everyone had.
Both of these (and, it sounds like Binkley's too) want the diners to experience ALL that they can and do not have restrictions. With both of these recent events, the choices were infinite, and I need to emphasize "infinite." At Mavro's, one could do eleven desserts, if they wished, chosen from all other tasting/pre-fixe menus! Plus, each of these offered a "sommelier's pairing," with Mavro's even offering "rare/reserve" pairings, if one wished to push Todd Ashline, the sommelier and test the cellar. Excellent!!!
In PHX, I'd have to put DPOV down the list of higher-end dining establishments, and it's even in my backyard. Lately, I do not feel that it has been living up to its potential and has been surpassed by too many other restaurants.
Well, that's 0-2 for DPOV so it's out. That's really sad to hear, and certainly not the first less-than-encouraging reviews of the place. We have so few good places close to us here in N Phoenix that you'd hope that place would be as lofty as its location. Too bad.
We thought about ME at the Phoenician but hearing about the turnover made me think it might not be the best time for there. I think we will do Binkley's. We were not going to do it - even though it's #1 on our list of excellent food in the valley - but it's a bit far up, and I was coming in from ORD and heading straight to dinner, so we thought closer was safer. We moved her bithday to the next day, though, so plenty of time to dine, relax and celebrate!
Thanks for the insight as always, Hounds!
One spot in N Phoenix, that you may, or may not, have tried is Basis New American Restaurant, on Thunderbird @ 7th St. Obviously NOT in the group with ME's, or Binkley's, it's exciting, and very low-key.
We just did a Wine & Food Society event there, on the heels of one at Binkley's, and the concensus was that it was great. Most of the folk didn't know that there was really good, and interesting dining in the Phoenix Area, let alone N Phoenix.
re: Bill Hunt
We know Basis well, and the first time I went there after we moved to the neighborhood I thought I'd found my little place! It was perfect - great service, good food reasonable prices, good wine ... what's not to like. Over the the last three years, though, in probably 30+ visits and/or take-away, I've seen bad trends:
a) service has become more spotty. Several of the staff, Nick and the tall try-to-be-funny waiter, have stayed around but too often it's somebody new on the floor and service can be really weak
b) food quality is not as good as it used to be. A few things, like the lobster burger, are always good but ribs I had two weeks ago were terrible and won ton tacos the month before that (using rib meat - maybe I need to try something new!) were way off. Sweet potato fries this last time were soggy with grease. More often than not, I walk away saying it was a complete miss, not a complete hit like it was 3 years ago.
c) their menu prices have trended up, or at least my perception of the cost. I don't have hard figures on pricing (i can look back at statements and see total bills I guess) but it sure seems to me that it's gotten a lot more expensive and given the other things I just don't get my dollar's worth. You can't find a special entree for less than $20 and their cheapest item is the lobster burger at $18. That is just not supportable as a consumer.
Again, no hard #s, but it doesn't seem as busy either. So they're falling into the classic restaurant trap of raising prices as volume goes down trying to squeeze revenue out of existing patron flow. It's a bad circle to get into. I look at Zest, La Grand Orange and other spots around the Valley and see what Basis could be, but they're not that. They need to take the chip off the shoulder, make solid food with good service, lower their prices - or offer some options - and they would increase their overall business.
Interesting and appreciated observations. We've been going, since they opened the doors, though have gone through periods, when we just didn't get over there. I have marveled at what I have seen as consistancy through the years. Yes, there have been a few dishes, that did not hit it right, but they've been very good on our visits.
As for price, they seem about the same to me, but I don't have copies of the old menus to go back to. I do agree about the service being spotty. Maybe in the earlier days, we were in more often, so knew the waitstaff and they knew us. That part has not been as solid recently. I also agree about the volume of diners. It seems to have gone down in the last two years. I've been able to get prime-time reservations on short notice, and that used to be impossible. I'll have to think about what you've said, and take more careful notice next visit. Maybe I've become to complacent and haven't observed, as closely, as I should.