Scottsdale: Fine's Cellar
- ccl1111 Jan 30, 2008 08:57 PM
Searched on Fine's Cellar & didn't find anything on this so starting anew...
Well since the sister & brother-in-law have been there twice within the last 2 weeks, we decided not to wait for a date night & packed up the little ones & gave it a try tonight. We absolutely loved it!
The food was awesome. We did a few appetizers & a dinner entree and pretty much universally loved everything. It scares me when a new place starts out too well as I'm afraid we will have unrealistic expectations on our next visit.
We had the housemade duck confit bratwurst with truffled sauerkraut, roasted peppers and whole grain mustard. Some foie gras in the sausage. Just awesome. I will plan to order this over & over & over. Also had the orincini (risotto ball stuffed with Humboldt Fog goat cheese). This was wonderful as well. Already a big fan of Humboldt Fog and arancini/risotto, this was pretty much a can't miss for us. The surprise for me was that the accompanying arugula salad and shaved ricotta salata was also super yummy. Since our daughter is dairy allergic, we ordered the chicken & saffron risotto with sweet peas & carrot essence. Didn't expect to get a non-dary risotto out but this was also amazing. Chicken was moist & flavorful & we loved the risotto. On the non-dairy side, we also orderd sweet potato fries. These were incredible. Might be blasphemy but we liked them far better than any we've had (Delux, Stax, etc.). The aiolis that came with (sun-dried tomato-grenache, vanilla & aged balsamic-barolo) were also rocking. We were particularly in love with the vanilla aioli. Unfortunately we had to let our 3 year old eat the bulk of them.
We must have just ordered really, really well. Everything was too good.
Along with this, we each had a flight of tastes. You can purchase any wine on their list by the bottle, glass or taste which is pretty cool. Had some yummy selections.
We had a couple of very nice deserts too (olive oil poached pear with white chocolate drizzle and pistachio gelato/affogato bread pudding with chocolate gelato).
We also got some of their imported Venchi chocolates which I wasn't familiar with. We picked up some more on the way out to sample. Our 3 year old scarfed the extra dark but when I tried one later at home, it was too dark for me. The gold wrapped one was more my style. (We are currently in a dark chocolate frenzy - having been started by the incredible Mexican dark chocolate from the iBloom folks @ Vincent's farmers market.)
The service was ridiculous as well. Every interaction from our server to the GM to the wine steward (not sure of his exact title) to the chef to Mike the owner was unbelievably gracious. We couldn't get over how nice everybody was - the entire night! It was also very cool that the GM, the chef and Mike all paid a visit to our table to chat with us. I'm guessing they are being extra attentive with the place just opening. I don't see how it could last indefinitely. If it does, we'd be ecstatic.
When talking with Mike, we heard that they plan to cover pretty much most of our favorite things in life too. They are also doing/will be doing retail wine, cheese, gourmet chocolate (as mentioned), coffee, gelato & breakfast.
If they end up nailing the rest of the things as well as the dining, they could greatly cut down on our travel time. It'd be crazy if a visit to Fine's ended up replacing the bulk of our weekend fun trips/errands - Terroir/Sportsman's/AJs (wine); AJ's/LGO (cheese); iBloom/Pane Bianco (chocolate); Lux (coffee); Arlecchino (gelato); Orange Table/LGO/Pane Bianco (breakfast/lunch).
Found out that they will be able to sell their wine retail in about 60 days or so and will also have a wine club with various levels of participation (1, 2, 6 or 12 bottles). They put in a cheese case today. Still empty but I have high hopes for it. I couldn't complain if they just carry the selections that are on their bar menu.
While I like the chocolate, I'm still a bit partial to my iBloom Mexican dark. Haven't been a huge Mokarabia (which they use) fan in the past but I'm hoping it's been the execution in brewing/drawing drinks & we will be able to get great coffee there as well. Feel like we are spoiled with Arlecchino and nothing comes close (for us anyway) but you never know, right? The breakfast and lunch menus also look very interesting. We will be back to sample the coffee, gelato & breakfast/lunch menus soon!
They also have a 3 course prix fixe meal for $35. My brother-in-law had this last night & really liked it. Their concept sounds quite cool too. They switch regions (currently Italian) every 90 days and switch menus within region at the 45 day mark.
Thanks for the great review. We're going there on Saturday night, and I appreciate having some guidance. Sounds like they are clicking on all cylindars already.
I was down in the Valley this weekend for the FBR Open and tried out Fine's Cellar in Old Town Scottsdale (5th Ave. and Marshall Way) with a group of friends. Since I was there more to hang out with friends, I don't think I experienced it enough to write an actual "review," but I did want to offer a few thoughts. For those that don't know, Michael Fine, the previous owner of Sportsman's Fine Wines, is behind this new venture. They serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and "grab & go," but we were there for dinner. Even though they were extremely busy during the Super Bowl/FBR Open gong show, our group of five only waited about 15 minutes past our reservation time and had wine in our hands within five minutes of stepping in the door. The dinner menu was short and sweet, and five hungry girls couldn't resist ordering two of the Mac & Cheese Three Ways to split between us. The one with the truffle oil was definitely the group favorite (the other ones had langostine (sp?) and sun dried tomato I believe - they were inhaled so fast it was hard to discern!). I shared the Braised Beef Short Rib and the Roasted Butternut Squash Gnocchi with two friends, and the short rib was a huge winner. The gnocchi was good, but not as dynamic as the short rib which was extremely tender and flavorful. I am a wine lover, but definitely not an aficionado, so I'd be curious what someone more experienced has to say about the wine selection. The service was efficient and non-pretentious, and our waitress didn't even balk at the five credit cards we put down. There was a small bar area that would be perfect for someone dining alone or looking for more of a quick experience. I also see Fine's as a great spot for pre-event (theater, concert, etc) in downtown Scottsdale. Overall, it is definitely a place I would return when I'm back down in the Valley. And, it was awesome to see so many visitors in downtown Scottsdale having a great time in our state!
re: Beaver Street
I was also there on FBR/Superbowl Friday. We were a party of 12 for wine & food sampling. I was concerned about any of the restaurants in that area being a total zoo. It wasn't at all.
The servers did great. Every bit of the food we sampled was wonderful. One of our hosts was selecting bottles of wine on the fly, & they handled all that perfectly, with all the appropriate fresh glasses for each different bottle. The general manager Larry was actively helping out, opening bottles & such.
We had early reservations, & they did have another party booked after us. Michael had briefed our "party organizer" on this well in advance, & he gave her a couple of very subtle time cues when we were starting to get close. Absolutely the most deft handling of that tricky problem that I've ever seen.
They did just perfectly with a group that could well have been very difficult. They are absolutely firing on all cylinders! We had an excellent experience, & it's become a weekly place for several of our group.
We've been trying so hard to get to Fine's Cellar. We actually made it on Saturday night to meet some friends. Unfortunately, a sick child at home forced us to leave our friends just before we ordered. Beforehand, we sat at the bar and tried some wine.
I must say, having not eaten even a morsel of food, I really like this place. Basically, there are 4 areas: The small bar with over 100 wines by the glass, the retail wine area with what looks like a ton of bottles, the somewhat small restaurant area, and the large outdoor patio.
The wine list is excellent. You can order a bottle, a glass or a "taste" I would call the taste 2 oz. They serve in stemless wine glasses, and the tastes come in smaller glasses so it looks more substantial. The bottle prices are extremely reasonable. I saw several wines I recognized at just $10 over retail. I didn't see anything at even close to two times retail. This is a great place to try something new.
On the other hand, the by the glass prices seemed very high. They list all the wines with the bottle, glass and taste prices side by side. Often the glass price was 1/3 or almost 1/2 of the bottle price. This is quite an incentive to buy the bottle instead of the glass.
On the positive side, they are very quick to pour you a free taste just to try something. They did this twice for us without us asking. The wine guy behind the bar asked if we had tried a wine, and before we knew what was happening, he put a taste in front of us. Another time we asked about differences between two wines, and he gave us tastes immediately. Very wine friendly.
Additionally, he mentioned that if we didn't see something on the list, but it was in the retail area, to let him know and he would get us a by the glass price. Basically, they will open anything in the place and pour you a glass. Thinking back, I'm guessing they must dispose of quite bit of wine that is opened for a glass, but the entire bottle is not sold before it turns. Restaurants that serve 10 wines by the glass go through many bottles each night, keeping everything fresh. When you have over 100 available by the glass it's easy to not make it through every bottle in a reasonable time. This probably accounts for the higher by the glass price.
We didn't get to eat, but our friends reported the next day that the food was very good. An ordering issue (something came out wrong or late) resulted in it being taken off the bill and free dessert, including a visit from Michael Fine to apologize. You can just tell this place is well run. We hope to make it back for actual dinner soon.
We've actually been back twice since my original post. Ordering by the bottle is definitely the way to go. I think Barry's explanation of the higher by the glass prices is probably right on.
First visit back we had:
Flat iron steak salad with Calabres blue cheese. It was great. Would order it again in a second.
Crab & swiss panini - good. Were interested since we'd had the vanilla aioli that comes with the sweet potato fries.
Monte Cristo - surprisingly good as I've never been a Monte Cristo guy.
Mussles with grilled baguette - these were unbelievably good. I'm not even a huge mussle guy but I loved them & the sauce they came with was incredible. We put the baguette to good use!
Applewood smoked bacon & apple sandwich - also very good.
Duck confit bratwurst - awesome again. I don't think I will ever go to Fine's without ordering one of these.
Sweet Potato Fries - awesome again. We ended up ordering a second for the table.
Also had a bottle of Ravenswood Dickerson Zin that was great and very affordable.
Found out from the folks there that they will soon (if not already) be doing a Sunday brunch which we will have to try.
Also found out they will have free wireless if you buy a coffee or something else. Not too much space for working though.
(BTW, anybody know where you can get Calabres blue cheese? Ever since we had the Calabres blue cheese stuffed olives in my wife's martini at Kai - it was unbelievable - I've been usuccessfully on the hunt for it (no at AJ's, no at Dish, no at any of the standard supermarkets).
And then our last visit, we just stopped by for lunch in the middle of the week & had a bowl of tomato soup and the roast beef sandwich. Both were awesome.
Nancy and I tried Fine's lst night and had an excellent meal. The food and service were first rate and we enjoyed a visit with the owner, Mike.
Nancy started with the tuna tartare which was very fresh and quite tasty and then had the duck leg for her main. I had the duck confit bratwurst which was absolutely delicious aand followed that with the braised shortrib and polenta fries, which was also first rate. The beef was devoid of fat and served in a light sauce.
We had the lemon tart and the chocolate bread pudding affogato for desert. They, too, were very good.
Mike's wine policy is very interesting. Every wine on the list is available by the glass, but the price of a glass is disproportionate to the price of a bottle, as mentioned previously. The bottle price is a much better value and the markups are very gentle. It makes more sense to order the bottle and take home whatever is left over. I discussed that with Mike and he said that this was his intention.
We will add Fine"s to our list of regular restos.
re: neville nosher
Well guys, I want to thank you all for your kind words. We're trying hard to make things right. I would like to set a couple of things straight if you don't mind. First, only the wines that are on the Wine List are avaliable by the glass. The wines on the racks, in what will become the retail area are avaliable only by the bottle (we can sell retail starting March 31, 2008). We couldn't possibly open any wine a guest wanted just for a glass or 2. As noted above it would be very difficult to make that work financially. But any of the 900 wines we have on the floor can be consumed at your table at very close to retail prices. As for the 100 wines "by the glass" that we do have open, we use an Argon Inert Gas system to preserve the wine after the cork has been pulled. Done correctly wines can be preserved with very little change, for up to 3 weeks. I have been using this technique in all of my winebars for at least the last 11 years. The key is to be dilligent about the process. Lastly, the "by the glass" prices are high only as compared to the "by the bottle" prices, but if you check these glass prices against other restaurants "by the glass" prices, you'll see that for the same wines we are consistantly lower. Use the Sonoma Cutrer Chard $9.50 price as a benchmark, but as discussed above the idea is to buy the bottle, drink what you want and take the rest home. Once again thanks, I a really appreciate the "word of mouth" about our place. As I tell my staff...You are only as good as your last satisfied guest!! Mike Fine firstname.lastname@example.org
While we're on the topic of wine at Fine's Cellar, I was surprised to find an owner who seemingly is a big fan of wine serving his reds at room temperature. Maybe there's not room or budget for a proper wine fridge, but a wine chiller or two would solve the problem. We were provided with an ice bucket on a recent visit, but it takes too long, chills unevenly and if we get caught up in conversation and forget about the wine - well, then it's too cold and there's more waiting for it to warm up.
We have no complaints about the food, it was mostly delicious. We tried the duck brat everyone is raving about on this thread and loved it along with the short ribs and duck entree. Those sweet potato fries are tasty as well, but I wish we had a few more of them because we had plenty of the dip trio left.
It would quickly become a favorite of ours if we knew we could get a bottle of red at the right temperature (around 60 degrees).
We ate at Fine's Cellar on Saturday night and absolutely loved it. I think it's one of the best fine dining values in town. We had dinner plans with another couple where the husband is a big-time wine guy, so I thought Fine's would be a good pick. All of us are foodies and decide to order an array of things to check out.
Our table for four started with the trio of macaroni and cheese (carbonara, truffle and blue cheese), duck bratwurst, and ahi tartare. The blue cheese and truffle mac-and-cheeses were our favorite, but the duck bratwurst was the surprise hit. Everyone raved about it and it was gone before I could take a second helping. I LOVE the ahi - - it's so cliche these days and rarely done well, but this one was fresh and well seasoned with lots of avocado on top. Serving sizes were generous.
We also ordered two salads...one with a risotto ball. Salads were fresh but not worth expouding upon.
For entrees, I had the Leg of Lamb in red wine reduction and my wife had the short ribs. Entrees were devoured.
A few general comments: we sat on the patio, which I highly recommend. We all commented on how well-spaced the tables were. We felt like we were the only ones there and never noticed anyone around us, despite the fact that the patio was full.
Service: Our waiter was stretched a bit too thin with a large, but he told us that up front and made sure that nothing ever slipped, even if he had to send someone else over to check up on things.
Michael Fine stopped by our table numerous times to check on us and serve our wine. (We had two bottles) He is so friendly and so genuinely concerned about your happiness.
Entree prices were mostly in the $20-$30 range and all were great values.
This was GREAT food in an unpretentious setting with good service, GREAT wine, and NO attitude. My wife and I can't wait to go back, and our wine snob dining partners LOVED it.
Keep up the good work Mike Fine!
Funny, we were there on Saturday night, as well. Just my wife and I, and we sat at the bar. We ordered a bottle of the '04 Jayson to share which was awesome. They have a smaller bar menu, and we ordered the mussels ($10), the duck confit bratwurst ($9) and a cheese tray ($18).
The mussels were very good, and came with 3 large, toasted slices of baguette, which were perfect for sopping up the extra broth. I can't agree more about the duck bratwurst...it stole the show. My wife didn't want to order it (not a big bratwurst fan), but she loved it along with the bacon studded kraut. Really different and delicious.
Fine's Cellar does a reallly good job with cheese. They have several set offerings of 3-4 cheeses and/or charcuterie all between ($25 and $34). One of Italian cheeses, French, American, etc. The price seemed high until we saw a cheese platter in front of another bar patron. It was huge! Way too much for two people. We went with the One and One for $18. You pick any two items on the list. We chose the belletoile from France (similar to a brie) and the Patè de Campagne. Both were excellent and our plate came with fresh figs, nuts, bread, crackers, jam, mustard and other things I'm forgetting. Really a great place to get some wine and cheese done well.
We had a great time again. It's a much better deal to order your wine by the bottle than the glass or taste, if you can. We will definitely be back.
Thanks for the review. What I find really cool is that you can pick a bottle of wine from the retail side and pay only 15% over retail for drinking it with your meal. So in most cases it's less than $15 corkage fee. This is a refreshing change from the 2-3x retail you find on many Valley wine list prices.
Had dinner with two friends last night at Fine's. Both friends are seasoned foodies and winos. Evening started with selection of a bottle of wine for dinner. Michael Fine was there and assisted my friend and shared much information regarding some of the upper end Calif Cabs and blends. We were seated outside which last night was perfect.
We started by my insisting we order a couple of the duck brauts for a started. Then the duck entry, chicken and short ribs were ordered. We got involved with Michael regarding the wine and another we selected and he decated the larger bottle. After really enjoying the wine the main dishes came. They had forgotten the apps but it really didn't matter. They did comp up one after the main so my friends could try it.
My friends and myself very much enjoyed ourselves. They now have another goto place. I would put Fine's in the same catagory as Atlas Bisro.
We plan on doing their four course spanish tasting menu next time and pairing with some nice spanish wines.
Was working in the Vicinity of Old Town yesterday...decided to stop in to Fine's Cellar for a bite to eat after so many wonderful reviews.
I walked in and the place was empty except for 2 tables on the patio. I decided to sit at the bar since I was solo and enjoy a light lunch.
I decided to order the Penn Cove Mussels served with a grilled baguette ($11) along w/ a side of the sweet potato fries.($8)
I was dying for a glass of wine to accompany my mussels.....I voiced this to the Bartender and she said she could give me a tasting ($4.75) in a very cute little stemless glass....Perfect! I went with the 2006 Groth, Napa, Stags Leap
My meal came quickly. The mussels were fabulous..the broth was herby, flavorful...I found myself eating all of the baguette which was sopping up the broth. The Sweet Potato fries were crispy and light seasoned. What made them more interesting was the trio of aioli that was served along with them. Vanilla, Sun Dried Tomato and Chipotle. The Vanilla was the clear winner....it disappeared halfway through my order of fries.
The waitress tempted me w/ another tasting of wine...this time I went for the
2005 Chateau de Sancerre, Sancerre. It was a perfect lunch on a beautiful day.
Next time I will have to dine w/ a partner as there are so many wonderful items on the menu to try.
Went to Fine's 2 weekends in a row. We absolutely love the decor, and can't wait until the weather becomes a little better, so we can enjoy the patio.
We had pretty much the same food both times we went, but that just means that we enjoyed the items enough to get them again.
Standouts were the Mac and Cheese 3-ways. Ours included a Carbonara (loaded with Bacon, and fresh peas - which were sourced locally out waitress told us), a white truffle oil, and a blue cheese (which thankfully, didn't taste that much like blue cheese, which I don't like). This is a very rich appetizer, and a very large portion (especially considering how rich it is). I think the assortment of Mac and Cheese changes occasionally.
Our entree was the spare rib, which was extremely tender, and very well matched to a wine reduction sauce (that was on the sweet side). The "Polenta Fries" were kind of unique, but didn't do that much for me.
On one of our visits, we got the made from scratch Smore. This was really wonderful, and one of the better deserts I have had in recent memory. It was rich, but not overwhelmingly sweet. Really worth getting IMHO.
Some people in our party got a cheese tray, which was a really nice assortment of cheeses. It was somewhat expensive, but the portions were very good, and the presentation was terrific. I would say that this is probably one of the better deals in the restaurant (as the portions were ample).
The wine selection is great (as expected - and commented on already in this thread). We liked the huge selection of wines available in a small "taste" portion. This gave us the opportunity to try a lot of different wines. However, I found the wine prices very expensive (you could easily pay $7 for a 2 ounce pour). If you aren't careful, a few tastes can really add up fast. The bottle prices seemed more reasonable.
I have a problem with the stem-less glasses. I am surprised that a wine oriented restaurant would chose to use them, as they warm the wine in-properly. The glasses have the restaurant name imprinted in them, so unfortunately, I think they are here to stay.
The owner, Mike is a good Matre De, and stopped by our table to ensure everything was good, and help us with our wine selection. This kind of personal touch is really important to us.
Overall, we enjoyed the restaurant quite a bit, the food is excellent, the space is beautiful (cozy, and elegant), and the service was polished.
We will be back.
We had our first meals at Fine's this past Saturday. Michael introduced himself and showed us to the table. The amuse bouche was popcorn with cheese, chives and truffle oil; surely, not like Mom used to make. The starter I chose was a duck bratwurst that had great flavor but the texture was chewy. The short rib entree was excellent. Great selection of wines by the glass and the small 2 oz glass option is a excellent idea.
Staying busy in the summer means the locals have shown a vote of confidence for the place. As someone posted earlier, it reminds me of Atlas Bistro. Definitely would return and recommend.
We had a great dinner at Fine's on Saturday night. Having been there before, we ordered the duck confit bratwurst and ahi tartare to start. My wife said she could have made a meal out of the duck. And the ahi tartare was the best preparation of this dish that I've ever had. It seems to be on every menu now, but Fine's is really the way it should be done. Great presentation also.
My wife had the roasted Loup de Mer as her entree which she proclaimed "the best fish she's ever eaten"....and she's a tough critic. I had the ribeye steak with blue cheese and hashbrowns. Neither one of us left anything on our plate. And the s'mores dessert was a knockout.
Nice bottle of Argyle Brut Rose with our meal.
The service was a bit rough....our waitress didn't have the charm that our waiter did the first time where were there. And it's too bad that it's too hot to sit on the patio. But I would rate the food as top notch.
More info on this meal available on my blog at http://www.ericeatsout.com
I finally got around to trying Fines' last Monday Evening. I stopped in around 7 pm and the place was pretty full. What intrigued me to stop in was the menu and the 1/2 off food special on Mondays.
So pretty much I will prob be the first one to say not so positive things.... Here I go.
We started off with the pigs in a blanket app, which was good.
For entree: we had the shortribs-TINY!!!! and I had the caesar salad- Good.
We both had one drink, if the waiter would have come up to more than once probably a second drink.
To make a long story short I would have been very dissappointed if I didn't pay 50 % off, I am not cheap by any means, but the service and portion size was a joke. I will not be going there any time soon.
Cool Place but not good enough to make a return trip, unless lunch is a better deal.
I don't know what's going on at Fine's. I read about on the hound and was dying to try it as I will be in Phoenix soon for the first time. I made a reservation on OpenTable for a Monday three weeks from then. A week later I get a confirmation from OpenTable, immediately followed by another email saying that Fine's had CANCELED my res and I should call them.
Sent them an email. no reply. Called on the telephone and got an answering machine that said I should make a res and they would call back. They never did. Are they on vacation, or out to lunch.
Looking for local knowledge here
That's too bad it closed... I'd hate to say this, but there might be too many "decent destination" places in the same area, relative to the current economy, mix of old town visitors (a good many there for bar hopping at night or $8 trinket shooping in the day) and the infill residential projects that got stalled. Bad timing. Let's hope all involved land on their feet.
Total bummer, I have enjoyed every meal and every glass of wine I have had there. Mike is totally great host and always made myself and any guests feel totally welcome.
I guess the location got him, you had to know where it was and there is lots of competition down there. I am afraid we are going to see more great local places not make it.