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.