Mini-Reviews: The Jester Goes To Flagstaff and Sedona (long-ish)
Sometimes, ya just have to get the heck outta Dodge. This time, I headed up north to Flagstaff. I was very pleased all around with what I saw. Flagstaff residents, your downtown area is a thing to be cherished. I loved that there were so many independent businesses everywhere I looked. I think the only national chain I saw was Cold Stone Creamery. I certainly hope that the people in charge of revitalizing downtown Phoenix take notes on your downtown area.
While going through town, I noticed you'll be getting something that I believe doesn't exist in the Phoenix area: A Himalayan restaurant, featuring Nepali and Tibetan food. Let us know when it's open, I want to come try it!
While I was exploring downtown, I happened upon an alley around Heritage Square that is home to a brand new creperie. I gave their take on Crepes Suzette (mandarins, marmalade, a squeeze of lemon) a try and was very delighted; there was some decent complexity going on with the filling, but not so much that it wasn't overwhelming. It looks like a terrific spot to stop for a light lunch on a nice day.
Dinner that night was at Beaver Street Brewery. I am finding more and more that if you're in an unfamiliar town, seek out the local brewery and you can get a solid meal without getting ripped off. We tried the Bramble Berry Brew, Railhead Red Ale, and R&R Oatmeal Stout and found them all to be very good, with the winner at the table being the Railhead Red. For chow, I was torn between the herb-crusted pork chop special and the Beaver Street Brewery Fondue, but the kitchen had just ran out of the pork chops, so that narrowed the field just a bit ;-) The fondue itself was very delicious, but then it's hard to go wrong with a mix of cheese, beer, and caramelized onion, isn't it? Accompanying the fondue was a pile of bread cubes and vegetables. The bread was quite tasty with more than a hint of caraway. The vegetables were sliced raw carrots and zucchini. There were a couple of stray bits of cauliflower and broccoli in there... were there supposed to be some in there? The carrots were looking kind of tired and dry; if the kitchen took an extra step and blanched the veggies earlier in the day, not only would they have looked vibrant even closer to the end of the night, but they would have tasted better too. In all, Beaver Street Brewery was a good experience, some place I'd like to go back to after exploring the rest of town some more.
The next morning, we were off to Mike & Ronda's "The Place" on Milton, since we had heard that one was the one to go to. I got the chicken fried steak with biscuits and gravy. I'd like to say one thing or another really stood out, but it was just pretty decent, standard fare, certainly better than Denny's but pales in comparison to Matt's Big Breakfast, Harlow's, and The Farmhouse down here in the metro Phoenix area. I did not appreciate the lackadaisical approach to refills. They seemed to be rather stingy with refilling coffee, certainly a no-no when there's as many servers as they had running around.
It was time for me to head back home, but I had time to take a detour through Sedona on the way back. I almost stopped at the Oak Creek Brewery in Tlaquepaque, but balked at the tourist-trap pricing. On my way out of town, I noticed that Sedona food stars Dahl and DiLuca have opened a set of two new eateries on the 179 in a new shopping center adjacent to (I think) a Hilton resort. Their Cucina Rustica looked utterly wonderful, so I stopped for a bite at the smaller A'Roma. It reminded me of a micro-AJ's, with a small selection of grocery items, a prepared foods case, and a decent selection of wines. I went with a simple chicken salad sandwich and bowl of Tuscan Tomato soup, and was utterly pleased. The sandwich was a perfectly executed simple chicken salad, and the bread was a flavorful multigrain that paired very nicely with the chicken salad. The tomato soup was absolutely perfect, some of the best that I've had. On the way back from Sedona, I then remembered that I was going to stop at Kid Chilleen's in Black Canyon City to try out their barbecue, but that was definitely now out of the picture. Maybe next time.
Old Town Creperie
Food: 4 (This could easily go up to a 5 after multiple visits; I liked what I had)
Service: 5 (The guy working there was very friendly and personable)
Atmosphere: 5 (There wasn't much to work with, but they did a great job with what they had in the space. The French music was tres magnifique)
Overall: 5 (I'll be back the next time I'm in town. Maybe multiple times if I can swing it)
Beaver Street Brewery
Food: 4 (it's well-made bar food, what's not to like?)
Atmosphere: 4 (Another field that microbrew restaurants excel in as a standard)
Mike & Ronda's The Place
Food: 3 (nothing noteworthy)
Service: 2 (Keep that coffee and ice water full, gals!)
Atmosphere: 3 (It looked the way a local coffee shop should)
Food: 4 (Not the most inventive, but very solid)
Atmosphere: 5 (It's Sedona. The only way you don't get a 5 is if you forgot windows or patio seating. I will say the interior was deserving of a 5 even without the surroundings)
I love the fact that I need a visitor to tell me about a new place in my own town! This board is great!
Can you give me more information on location for the Creperie? South or North of Heritage Square?
Speaking of Heritage Square, the next time you're in Flag try Cuvee 928, our new-ish wine bar by Coldstone Creamery. Reasonably good wine selection and a nice variety of small plates.
Alice in Flag
I almost felt bad that I got the jump on a new place before the locals found out! But it's been open for only about a week now, and since it's on an alley you pretty much have to be on foot to know it's there.
I think it's just west of Heritage Square... I'm looking at Google Maps right now, and I *think* it's just off Leroux in between Aspen and Birch. I will admit I could be completely wrong, but I know it was north of the railroad tracks, west of San Francisco, and just off one of the N/S streets. I'm pretty sure it's close to Cuvee, but you can't see them from each other.
re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
Yep, Mike and Rhonda's on rt66 is the better of the two - it's the original. It takes me back to days where we would scrape together a few dollars after a heavy night of Saturday drinking for a nice big breakfast, with leftovers to boot.. My dining partner in those days would always order the Double Chili Size - it would last him all day long.
re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
Thank you again for the tip. I gave it a try and had the chicken and artichoke heart crepe and the nutella crepe. Both were delicious. I should have just stuck to one, since both were quite filling, but the nutella crepe was too hard to resist. They were doing brisk business at lunch that day, so hopefully this bodes well for its longer-term success.
I met the owner while I was there (my lunch companion is a friend of his) and the owner said that he originally wanted just a crepe cart--like a hot dog cart, but serving crepes instead. But the alley location came open and they decided to go for it. If you're curious, the wrought iron fence surrounding the very small establishment was salvaged from Northern Arizona University. It used to be part of the fence at the corner of Milton Road and Butler Avenue before the conference center construction began.
My recommendation would be to mimic the original intent of the crepe stand and get your crepe to go, find a sunny spot on Heritage Square, and enjoy al fresco.
Do you have a name and address for the crepe place? Phone #?
Definitely sounds worth trying.
Incidentally, I tried the lunch buffet at Mormon Lake Lodge today -- which I think is their weekday offering, when the cafe is closed. It's basic: a green salad, melon cubes, soup, chile and muffins -- but everything was fresh, house-made and good quality. Plus it's all of $5, so you can't go far wrong. Chile could have been warmer (they just put in a fresh batch). Nice place.
Cheers -- Pete Tillman
re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
ha ha this site is awesome i have some info for all you guys interested in the old town creperie, i used to manage it before we sold it yesterday. so its located on leroux behind cold stone. the hours are generally between 11 am and 8 pm except weekends where they stay open later for art walk and movie night. the phone number is 928-853-1387 and they take phone orders. unfortunately no delivery, they're not quite there yet.
Ah...different owners. It makes sense now.
We found ourselves up in Flagstaff and looking for a snack on Sunday afternoon. We happened across the crepe stand and I thought I had remembered great reviews of it here on this site so we immediately agreed we should try one out.
We were so excited about trying one we didn't stop and take in what was happening. One poor young lady managing the stand all alone on a beautiful Flagstaff afternoon. Crazy. She was trying to take all the orders(we were fourth in line and about 5 more people came in while we were waiting to place our order...didn't realize the outside patio was also quite full of folks)..she was also responsible for making the crepes on the two stations.
she was doomed. The line kept going after we walked out. After she took our order and pinned the ticket to the clothesline above her head did it register how in the weeds she was. There was easily 10+ tickets hanging above her head, she was all alone, and the customers just kept coming.
Good thing it was indeed a gorgeous afternoon and we weren't in a hurry. We found a spot in the sun and agreed we'd settle in comfortably as this was goign to take some time. we saw some folks go in and ask for their money back unfortunately.
About 35 minute later our crepe was ready. The crepe itself wasn't bad - light and full of flavor...but where were the fillings. we asked for a forestiere which was spinach, mushrooms,cheese, and bechamel. There were a couple blobs of spinach, a few sliced mushrooms, a bit of cheese...I'm not sure there was any bechamel in it though...it was really dry and crispy.
It was only a mid afternoon snack so not the end of the world but I was really surprise as I'd remembered reading here the good reviews. Rereading them tonight i was really confused as ours was anything but heavy(and we're not ones to normally complain about not enough rich ingredients or too small portiosn).
The crepe was $8 which isn't exorbitant but did seem a bit overpriced given how light on filling it was.
Shame...it's such a cute little stand. The poor attendant was working so hard on her own too...definitely not a one person job on a busy day.
maybe it was an off day? Anyone else been there this year?
Thanks JK! I do love heading north to get out of town, esp. when it hits 120 degrees down here in the metro PHX area. I'll have to keep these in mind for next time.
Did Old Town Creperie have nutella crepes?
Also, I love Beaver Street Brewery. I say they give Four Peaks and Oak Creen Canyon Breweries a run for their money... I remember last time, they had a Thai curry mussel appetizer that had one of the best Thai curry sauces, and I like to think I know my Thai food! Kind of weird and "upscale" appie for a brewery too...
Great report, JK!
I haven't been to the Mike and Rhonda's on Milton, but ate (and reviewed) the one on Rt. 66, which I remember people saying was the far better of the two.
I am glad that Beaver Street Brewery is still a good choice. There were some reports of decline, so hopefully any problems have been overcome.
The Creperie sounds wonderful, but I am more intrigued by the Himalayan restaurant. Leave it to downtown Flagstaff to snag that one. :o)