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Nov 23, 2007 07:55 PM

Looking for interesting birthday suggestions-phx/scottsdale

Hey everyone-

As someone who frequently reads through the board, and dines out often, I'm fairly well versed in many of the area restaurants. However, I'm having a tough time coming up with an interesting place to try for a birthday. We've stuck with Cowboy Ciao (always fantastic) for several birthdays over the past few years, so I'm looking to stir the pot a bit. Been thinking about giving Methode, Rancho Pinot, or Tarbell's a shot (never been to any of these options). Any opinions amongst these choices? Been dying to try Kai for a while, although the drive (30-45 minutes) makes it considerably less desireable. Anyone here have any interesting standout suggestions, aside from those I proposed?

Open to all types of food, any price point, and any location in the phoenix/scottsdale area (preferably within ~20-25 minutes of Scottsdale/Cactus crossroads). Bring on the suggestions, I'm open to anything. Thanks.

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  1. I love Methode Bistro....a very pretty spot, great food and not too far too drive....
    or Razz Restaurant in the Windmill plaza?

    Binkleys in Cave Creek?

    or Elements @ can't beat the food or the ambiance.

    7 Replies
    1. re: ciaogal

      Thanks. How do you think the food quality compares between Elements and Methode?

      1. re: crsin

        I think the food offerings @ both restaurants are above par. Methode's setting may be a little more intimate and not as frenetic as Elements (being a much smaller venue.)
        Though you can't beat the view @ Elements!

        The menu, presentation and preparation @ both restaurant are unique and's hard to compare.

        I think Methode may be more favorably priced.

        It's a tough question to answer since I am partial to both....

        1. re: crsin

          Honestly, I am so unimpressed with both elements and methode. Binkleys is fabulous I was there last Wed.

          1. re: drewb123

            Interesting, why so disappointed with elements and methode?

            1. re: crsin

              I have to agree with drewb123 at least about Elements. (haven't tried Methode) I have been to Elements three times and have had bad service and below average food with the third and last try the food was actually inedible. My steak was completely rare inside as in cold (ordered medium) sent it back and was brought back the same piece just charred on the outside and still rare. Waiter did not come back to check on us and we had to ask for the manager because the waiter disappeared. I do not like complaining and will go back to a restaurant if a mistake was made as long as it was handled appropriately. They did not offer me anything else, my husbands food was also sent back for the same reason and the cut of meat was completely filled with fat & grissle. I would not go back I found the service to be somewhat arrogant and have never found any of the items on the menu to be great. Not sure what the buzz is all about, besides the obviously gorgeous setting. Go for drinks, plenty of other great restaurants to try in Phoeni.

              1. re: travelchow

                here here travelchow. Totally agree. i love the bar area, especially the cantalope martini and wasabi peas.

                The menu looks so much better on paper.

        2. re: ciaogal

          Without a doubt Coup des Tartes! They just changed their menu for the's fantastic and a deal since it's BYOB! Bring champagne for a toast!

        3. Both Methode and Elements are great, and you can't go wrong with either. I think the menu at Methode is more interesting, only in that they serve items you may not have seen anywhere else in this area. Methode is also a bit less expensive. Basically, I agree with everyone Ciaogal said :).


          1. i am a huge fan of rancho pinot, i love everything about that place. fantastic food, great service, fun kitschy oldschool az decor, wonderful wine list...

            and i love quiessence, it might be a bit out of the way tho. it's relaxing, beautiful, and like leaving phoenix for awhile :)

            1. What's the personality of the group?

              Formal? Somewhat wild? Do you want a private, intimate experience or to be in the middle of a festive room? Big group or small? Close friends or associates? I ask because all of these could be a factor.

              For example, a younger pal of mine just turned 30. The intial plan was to go to a chain but I suggested Furio as she and many of her friends are single and swank. Furio is swanky but also has great happy hour deals, so people of every budget could drink, order a nicely priced plate of food or simply hang out and enjoy the scene. $10 manicures were also a hit. It was perfect for this group.

              Now for my b-day, I'd like my best friends taking up the entire back room of Dick's Hideaway enjoying great food, drink and laughter. But I'd also plan a 2nd part of the evening to allow everyone the opportunity to branch out.

              10 Replies
              1. re: tastyjon

                Thanks to everyone for the great suggestions so far. Tastyjon, the group is my family and I. I would prefer an upscale atmosphere, but none of us particularly like anything terribly formal or stuffy. No real preference in terms of atmosphere, just an all around good experience. Geg, I think that I may have actually noticed that Coup des Tartes is booked on the night I would need, good suggestion, though. Quinessence looks fantastic, as well, although it is a bit of a drive...

                Keep 'em coming.

                1. re: crsin

                  thanks for clarifiying :) then i would fully re-iterate my endorsement of rancho pinot. not at all stuffy, great food, great service. upscale but not uptight :)

                  1. re: winedubar

                    Rancho Pinot is a great idea. There is something on the menu for everyone and a very Southwestern/Cowboyesque setting.

                    Rancho Pinot Grill
                    6208 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ

                    1. re: Seth Chadwick

                      How far is that from the four seasons in troon?

                      I will be in AZ for xmas. We have Barrio Cafe Fri, Skye Sat, and T. cook's for Christmas night.

                      What do you all think of Skye-parents' friends live in Az and made res there--does not look like quite my scene (prefer Cowboy Ciao, etc).

                      We need a few other spots...

                      1. re: ljero

                        The Four Seasons is pretty far north east in Scottsdale. Skye is on the NW side of the valley. I haven't been there, but I understand it is an upscale steakhouse. It will be a 30 minute drive from your hotel, and there are plenty of other options close by (Mastros is about 5-10 minutes away). However, if you are meeting your parent's friends Skye might be closer to them. Otherwise, I wouldn't bother with the drive.

                        Near your hotel, you may want to take a look at Mosaic and Sassi, both of which are within walking distance. Cowboy Ciao would be a great choice, and I would second Rancho Pinot as a great choice and very local. It's about 20 minutes from your hotel. Have a great trip.


                        1. re: barry

                          I would pass on sassi, so horrible. I know for a fact I am not the only person with that opinion. Mastro's is one of the best steakhouses here along with donovan's

                          1. re: drewb123

                            I think Sassi is worth a visit. I went a few years back and, while I don't recall being absolutely "wowed" by the food, it thought it decent. Really, the best part is the restaurant itself, which is gorgeous. The location and restaurant alone, in my opinion, make for a really nice experience.

                          2. re: barry

                            We had dinner at Mosaic back during the summer and enjoyed it. They will take you there from the Four Seasons and pick you up after dinner. It's right next door but there are no sidewalks and the road is dark so not to pedestrian friendly.

                            Also if you are up at Troon you aren't far from Binkley's...which is definitely worth the visit. Especially since you are up on that side of town I would definitely consider Binkley's over Quiessence(we were very disappointed in our visit to Quiessence but seem to be in the minority on that view).

                        2. re: Seth Chadwick

                          Thanks for the suggestions. I guess I'm a little confused as to the atmosphere at Rancho Pinot. The descriptions seem somewhat casual (kitschy decor, etc.) is it a "special" place, or more of an upper-end everyday place? Would you think the food is a standout relative to other restaurants in the area (better than most of the other touted restaurants around)? Thanks for the clarification.

                          1. re: crsin

                            they have a website that gives a tour - i wouldn't consider it an every day place. they've gotten tons of accolades, with a focus on local ingredients. it's a great spot, a favorite, and is a standout.

                            feel free to check for yourself


                  2. There doesn't appear to be an ourpour of support for Methode, Tarbell's, or T. Cooks (although they clearly have their fans), so I think I'm down to Rancho Pinot or Binkley's (Kai is still in the back of my mind, as well). Still would love more recommendations...

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: crsin

                      We went to Tarbell's for the first time several weeks ago. We really enjoyed it. The seafood dishes were particularly well done. I really liked that it was both a great place for a special occasion and high end meal and also a great neighborhood place where you could eat fairly inexpensively(the pizzas looked great and if lived nearby we'd often be stopping at the bar in the evening to have a pizza and glass of wine). The menu really offers a wide choice depending on your mood on a particularly evening. Service was excellent as well.

                      1. re: ziggylu

                        I second Tarbell's we went back several weeks ago and found the food to be great, everything was cooked perfectly, the desserts had some great unusual ingredients. we are having our company dinner there this weekend, can't wait to go back.
                        I also agree that Sassi is not worth a visit, we went there for an anniversary dinner, the evening ended up being a comedy of errors. The artichokes were burned, the white beans were undercooked and the men standing around like the secret service just creeped me out.

                      2. re: crsin

                        If you are deciding between Binkleys and Rancho Pinot.....I would definitely go w/ Binkley's. It is really a special place....
                        Superior to anything else you will find in AZ. It is a one of a kind experience...If you haven't been I highly tout it!
                        Had my Birthday dinner there last year and they could not have been more accomodating.....even printed the menu's w/ my name and birthday on it...which I had signed by Kevin Binkley and is framed and hanging in my kitchen.....
                        Just waiting for him to be nominated for the James Beard Award!

                        We did the 5 course tasting w/ wine....
                        Get the Foie Gras if it's offered that evening. The preparation and presentation was flawless.

                        It was a magical meal!


                        1. re: ciaogal

                          I just called to see if they even have any openings (which they did a little on the late side). Anyone know why they require a CC# to make a reservation? Is it charged if not canceled on time or something?

                          1. re: crsin

                            That's becoming more and more common, particularly during peak season. I think it's just to get people's attention and make sure they're serious. I don't think they can charge you anything for not showing up, but clarify when you make the reservations.

                            1. re: geg5150

                              Many restaurants now require a credit card with a reservation usually with the caveat that you will be charged a set amount per person reserved if you do not appear for your reservation. In NYC some restaurants are now faxing you a confirmation page that requires your signature and return to confirm the reservation. Some restaurants do in fact charge the card if you do not show. Obviously, these restaurants simply want people to call and cancel if they cannot make it, which unfortunately many people do not do. However, they can charge your credit card if you no show. I don't know if most actually do it, but they can. It's just courtesy...if you can't make it, call and let them know.


                              1. re: barry

                                I already cancelled. The reservation was too late, and I was really only making them in case we decided to go there. This is most likely the exact thing they are trying to prevent from happening and, well, it apparently worked...

                                Anyway, I think I finally settled on Rancho Pinot. In less something else influences me in a different direction, that's where I'll be (and looking forward to it).

                                Thanks for the info.

                                1. re: crsin

                                  Winedubar knows that I'm a fan of Rancho Pinot, and would not hesitate a moment to return, but for a birthday, I don't know. It may not be an "everyday" kind of place (unless you have the budget), but at the same time, the general scene might be a bit "sleepy" and atmosphere a bit subdued for my personal tastes if it were MY birthday. That said, the food is great, the preparation straight-forward, you barely notice the service and the wine list is very good. After all the buzz surrounding Binkley's and all the rave reviews (why have I still not been there???), I would find a way to make that happen.

                                  As has been mentioned, I would not waste my money at Sassi again after having a couple very mediocre meals there. Sure, the atmosphere is top-notch, but it doesn't make up for the abysmal service.

                                  1. re: azhotdish

                                    I'm actually on a waitlist at Binkley's. The earliest reservation was a bit late, and I doubt that anyone will be cancelling, so it's probably not an option. Where else would you suggest?

                                    1. re: crsin

                                      While it is not everyone's cup of tea, I would but a shout out to Trader Vic's at the Valley Ho. The menu is pricey, but the atmosphere, food and (especially) the beverages are great for a celebration.

                                      Trader Vic's - Scottsdale
                                      6850 E. Main Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                                      1. re: crsin

                                        If I had to take a pass on Binkley's, although it's not nearly as interesting, given the criteria Zinc Bistro in Kierland is always a solid choice. I'm a fan of their steak au poivre and pommes frites, and the place always has my favorite aperitif campari. I've even had some good oysters there, surprisingly enough.

                                        But if you really don't mind a less "festive" atmosphere, I can't see you going wrong with Rancho Pinot. Enjoy your birthday.

                                      2. re: azhotdish

                                        i know you are, hotdish :D if you're looking for a full on party vibe, rp ain't it. they do some special event stuff from time to time that is down right festive tho. the 7 course red waddle pig dinner comes to mind. now THAT was a party. a porcine-centric wine fueled night to remember ;)

                                        you're so right about the service there, i can't stand obsequious service at places. rp is just right, i think.