Weekend in Scottsdale (Mostly)(Long)
My wife and I drove up to Scottsdale from Tucson last Saturday. Our stated purpose was dinner at Cowboy Ciao, a restaurant I had been looking at/dreaming about for months. Since I had no desire to drive home late on a Saturday night from Scottsdale, we needed a room. A bargain rate at the Royal Palms (part of the "mostly") made the trip possible and desirable.
We got to Chandler by 1. We planned a stop at a container store at the Chandler Mall--we're remodeling our home, and are looking for stuff--and, then, a quick lunch, a visit to Home Depot Expo (more looking) and a nap before dinner. By the time we got to Chandler, however, I thought we ought to eat first, to avoid being stuffed at dinnertime.
We went to Lee's Sandwiches in Chandler (the rest of the "mostly"). Great food and way too cheap. A roast pork sandwich, summer rolls and a fruit salad was $8.52. Excellent food, too! Thanks, all, for recommending this place. It's at the top of my list for "leaving town, too busy to have eaten lunch and I've got to get back to Tucson," replacing Burger King and Jack in the Box.
A stop at Nordstrom's ended plans for the container store and Home Depot Expo. And the nap, for that matter.
The hotel was terrific and worth every penny of the $125.00 nightly charge, which ends up being about $160, with tax and the resort charge. When you can stay in 4+ star surroundings for the cost of dinner for two, you've gotten a great deal.
Cowboy Ciao. Great from the moment we walked in. The staff clearly love their place. No attitude; just friendly informed service. The place is cool, too! Fun to be in, and the surroundings and service told me we were in for a treat.
My wife is not a big drinker, and has trouble remembering the difference between a margarita and a daiquiri. She asked the server to recommend a sweet drink for an almost non-drinker. He brought her an off the menu drink. She felt special and drained the glass. I had a fine martini.
We perused the menu. I did not want heavy food, and was avoiding the mushrooms. My wife was having none of it. Sweetheart that she is, she ordered the mini-mushroom fry and directed me to the Stetson Chopped Salad. Since my wife is a chocoholic and at least two desserts were in the offing, we shared the seafood (cioppino-like) dish.
The mushrooms were terrific. Not as rich as I expected, although I can;t imagine eating the dish as an entree. My share of the mini was plenty. Very flavorful, though, and steaming hot when it arrived.
The salad was also wonderful. I dressed it lightly, and it was refreshing and delicious.
The seafood dish was fine. We wouldn't order it again, as it was not extraordinary. That said, everything was perfectly cooked and tasty.
Dessert! Jane had the chocolate peanut butter thing, and I had the cuppa hot chocolate. Both were awesome, although we preferred the chocolate peanut butter thing. It was hot and the mix of flavors was exceptional. The cuppa was also very tasty, but it was cold. That may or may not have been a mistake, but it tasted like the hot fudge I make and eat out of the jar. Great? Yes. Better warm? Absolutely.
We did also get three bacon chocolate chip cookies. Very nice. I'm looking for the Vosges chocolate bacon bars, as the combination sounds very interesting. The cookies did nothign to reduce my interest. BTW, only 1/2 of one got eaten at the table, and I'm still working on the last one.
Dinner was $145 with a generous tip (and one glass of wine for me.) All in all, we had a great time, and would go back again and again.
That's funny, that you noticed the mixologists at Ciao love to be challenged. I've waited at the bar for the rest of my table many times, and they are eager to suggest something or make something to your tastes. Last visit, they suggested some kind of rarified root beer to go with my husband's single-malt, and it was terrific. I like to ask them for the mineraliest sauvignon blanc they know of, and sure enough, it's like being smacked in the face by a piece of slate. (That's a good thing, if you're me.)
One thing I've learned -- that the house shot, the Nikolaishka or whatever it's called, is either done to kick off the evening or not at all -- definitely never after several rounds of wine. Makes me sick as a dog to mix liquor with the grape. Thirty-three years of life, you think I would have figured that out sooner.