Tarbell's - PHX
After IC aired, Husband made reservations to try the winning menu. Friends wanted to try it as well so last night we all headed out to try it. Our friends had been to Tarbell's before but this was our first visit.
We'd called a few times in the last couple weeks to confirm the apple menu would be available(they weren't exactly sure of when they would be starting to offer it when the episode first aired). This is the first week it's being offered. But...as of last night they are still not offering the entire menu. There are a couple dishes they have not been able to perfect to the point of being happy to serve them to customers yet. One of these sadly, was the adorable candy apples! They don't have a blast chiller and and haven't yet perfected a method to get the coatings to stick to the apple balls. Bummer!
Anyway, all the way around we enjoyed our meal. The menu was very interesting and choosing was difficult in a good way. Everything sounded delicious. Also, I was pleasantly surprised at how fish and seafood heavy the menu was...this wasn't something I realized Tarbell's offered. We love fish and seafood and it is hard to find great options in this town so we're definitely keeping htis in mind for the future. Don't know if this is always the case? I know the menu changes regularly but do hope there are as many fish and seafood options in future visits.
Husband and one friend went with the smaller version of the IC menu that was available. Unfortunately they ran out of the apple celery root soup before we ordered so the evening's yam soup was offered instead. The soup was very good, full of flavor, a hint of cream and a bit of honey. We all thought it would be too sweet but this was not at all the case. The Scallop dish with the apple tamale was fabulous! This was a favorite for all of us. The Scallop was perfectly seared. The tamale was just delicious with the masa/apple combination being light and airy and not at all heavy. The salsa served with was delicious as well. The pork chop was great...tender and juicy. The apple demi sauce was great...bring a loaf of bread and some of this sauce and i'd be in heaven. Loved the apple cornbread too.
I had the seafood chowder. This was great...full of fresh fish and seafood. Lots of fresh corn lending sweetness. Heavy with all the cream but great. Had to leave half so I could get through my entree but it was hard to use self-control. Also chose the Alaskan halibut. Again perfectly seared and prepared. With a pancetta, spinach and peach hash. Loved this...would be great for breakfast with poached egg on top.
We were fascinated by the meatballs so we asked the waiter to bring one out at the very beginning of our meal. Loved this too...not at all dried out, tons of flavor. Husband really wants to go back and order spaghetti and meatballs after trying this.
For dessert we of course went with the grilled figs and humboldt fog cheese. Great contrast between the sweet caramelized figs and the strong flavored cheese. We love Humboldt Fog to begin with so nothing to complain about here.
Service was great all night. Love how relaxed the pace was...nothing peeves me more than being rushed through a nice meal.
We all agreed that if we didn't live in the hinterlands down in Chandler we'd be visiting for casual dinners at the bar quite frequently. While the bill for the evening, including a bottle of wine,a bottle of water and some coffee, was $220 it wouldn't be hard to stop in and have an inexpensive meal either. The pizzas looked great and are very reasonable and we all found the portions to be really generous so ordering a light dinner of just a "first plate" or splitting an entree after a salad is realistic. The atmosphere is very comfortable here.
We've been here about 7 years now and think it's a shame we've been missing out on this little gem. Definitely looking forward to future visits.
Just had dinner there last night: celery root apple soup was okay, but I'm not a soup person - my friend really liked it, though. The scallops were good, but the tamale didn't have any discernible apple flavor. The meatballs were like delicious little meatloaves, and the bread pudding was dry without the delicious sauce.
Soup - $12; scallops - $34; meatballs + spag - $24; bread pudding - $11; plus one iced tea and one pinot grigo = $95 before t/t.
Quick update. Wife and I ate at Tar's on Monday and had another nice meal. Tried a few of the ICA dishes and were not as Wowed as we had hoped.
Started with the Apple-Celery Root soup with cheese crust. Not a distinctly appley flavor, but liked the crust and the soup overall was very nice and smooth. Had some Gruet sparkling to go along which was nice.
Wife had the Scallop with Apple tamale from ICA. Again, a very nice dish with four perfect scallops but just not a lot of Apple character. I think on the show he did one scallop and a larger tamale.
I had the halibut with potato hash. It was that or the arctic char special and I am not sure I made the right decision. It was okay, but the halibut was a little dry though I loved the hash. The smoked tomato sauce was really bland and not at all what I was expecting. An okay dish, but not what I'm used to from there.
Desert was the apple tart with walnut ice cream. It was good and left us happy for sure.
Overall, the ICA dishes were good but not overwhelmingly so. And not very appley. I wonder how much they were tweaked afterward to be more generally appealing than to force an apple flavor onto the ICA judges? Service as always was great and we were pleased with the experience.
Really missed the apple lolipops, though!
Thanks for the review. We've been Mark Tarbell fans, since coming to the Valley. Though we're not IC fans, we had to catch Mark's episode (also did the same for Chef John Besh, New Orleans), and loved the sound of the apple menu. I read that it was going to be added to the restaurant, but we've been out of town, and will continue to be gone, so will probably miss it. Still, it sounded great and something that I really wanted to do. At least I can experience part of it vicariously, through your review.
re: Bill Hunt
Bill, and Az people who may make it to Denver on occasion, I thought you might be interested in knowing that according to Jason Sheehan in Denver's Westword:
"I checked on his (Tarbell's) promised second restaurant in Belmar (an area 15min or so west of Denver)— Home, which was originally scheduled to open in 2005 but is now listed on Belmar's website as opening "winter '08." And soon after, he'll have another metro-area joint: a copy of his eponymous Arizona restaurant, Tarbell's, slated for inclusion in the "retail village" at the new Kent Place development in Englewood."
You probably also know that he is also co-owner of "The Oven" also in Belmar which is a (great) pizza place.
Thanks for the tip. AND, thanks for refreshing my memory. The shopping center, where the great cheese shop is located is Delmar. Could not think of it in that thread. Now I have to find it, and add the name.
Gotta' get back to Denver soon, as we miss some of the chefs, and want to catch up on what is happening on a culinary level now.
re: Bill Hunt
Delmar is on CO Blvd, below Mississippi Ave. Belmar is new, since I last lived in Denver. Cinderella City was closing down, but had yet to be redeveloped, just like Stapleton.
In another thread, on cheese shops, I could not come up with Delmar, even though I had photographed it for the developer, when it was re-done. I can't find that thread to add the exact name, but I gave the OP the rough address, so it's not a big deal. Thanks for the update. I've got to get back to Denver for a long visit, as so very much has changed on the culinary front, since we lived there. It seems that there are some new players, and many of the old places are now gone. When we moved there, it was Pierre Wolff and Buckhorn Exchange, and we experienced a real surge in great dining. I'm glad to see that it's still going strong.
When they are able to offer the whole menu it will be $75. Last night they charged half of the entree price for the chop and the scallop and charged the soup at full price(for a full portion). I think the scallop and the chop were both in the $30 range. The soup was around #10...so about $40 for the three courses last night.
If you want to do the full menu as seen on TV...you may want to keep checking in with them as they are still workign on both the candy apples and the chamomile broth with funnel cake and plan to offer everything in the near future as a complete tasting menu. The server didn't mention last night how much longer he thought until they could bring it all together.
I'm so glad you liked it. I think you make a great point about how Tarbell's can function at different levels depending on the customer's inclinations. It can be a place for a moderately priced casual meal, or a place for a premium multi-course meal. It works either way.
My impression is that the number of seafood offerings is pretty consistent. There are usually several choices on the menu.
Tarbell's Restaurant duplicate
3213 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ