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PHX - Where are you heading for Valentine's Day?

I was wondering where everyone who's going out was heading tonight? We are going to Tarbell's, as we've never been there before. We've done Lon's twice on V-Day, but last year there was such a mess, we decided to try someplace else.

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  1. Away from restaurants is where I'm headed. ;-)

    2 Replies
    1. re: hohokam

      We did Ranch House Grille for breakfast before work. We figured that we would avoid the hassle of tonight (hohokam has the right idea). I got a bottle of Seghesio Zin 2002 Home Ranch Reserve for tonight, and I am picking up a large pie from Phoenix House of Pizza and Subs with extra sauce. It will be nice to stay home after the Steamer's disaster we suffered through last year.

      1. re: ValleyFever

        In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I too am away from home this Valentine's Day, so my romantic dinner plans are on hold until I get back to Phx late next week. But still, there's no way I'm venturing out before Sunday night.

    2. I think Tarbells would be lovely :).

      My guy is flying, per usual, but I just got back from a nice lunch with my sister at T. Cook's. We did the 4/$12 tapas special (I had the boursin stuffed cherry peppers & olives, the sweet potato gnocchi with duck confit, mushroom crostini, and prosciutto-potato canelle. My sis had the paprika short rib, the tomato-basil soup, chicken brochette, and something else I can't recall. Finished with the dark chocolate torte; of course started with their impeccable pesto) and of the six glasses of wine for $6, we both chose the pinot grigio.

      *However,* tomorrow night my husband should be back and we have reservations at Binkley's! It will be our first time. I will probably try to keep myself to the four course prix fixe with wine, which means I will have to choose between dessert and cheese. Dessert and cheese -- it's like Sophie's Choice! I keep peeking at the sample menu and changing my mind. If anyone can help me decide, I'm all ears -- ?

      6 Replies
      1. re: themis

        Excuse me while I swoon over the sweet potato gnocchi with duck confit!

        1. re: tara17

          You echoed my sentiments exactly, hon. T. Cook's confit was a highlight when Tara an I had dinner there.

          And Binkley's. It's second on our to try list after Kai. :)

        2. re: themis

          I can help - have the six course meal. It's the only way to truly experience Binkley's.

          1. re: themis

            dessert is very nice there. Never did the cheese. see what they have on the menu tomm and if it's nothing that catches yoour fancy get cheese.

            1. re: themis

              My boyfriend and I only had desserts--not cheese--but they were both amazing. He had the chef's interpretation of s'mores and said it was the best thing he'd ever tasted. But I agree w/ azbirdiemaker--get the 6 course--less to regret later :)

              1. re: nyomi

                A little update -- we wound up with me doing the four course with pairings, and he did the five course with cheese, and they allowed us to split the cheese course. And honestly, I'm glad I didn't do the six. With four amuse bouches, two entrees would have been too much. What we had was perfect --

                amuse bouche butternut squash soup
                Served in a demitasse cup with a pistachio powdered rim -- savory, not spicy or sweet at all -- organic squash and cream.

                amuse bouche cucumber tomato salad, dippin' dots style
                Served in a soup spoon, a scatter of flash-frozen spheres of cucumber and tomato water, with dried serrano chile garnish

                amuse bouche baked potato consomme
                Served in a shot glass set on an LED coaster that swirled color changes -- crystal-clear hot potato consomme poured over little gelee spheres of smoked cheddar, chive, and sour cream, with bacon dust on the rim

                (all paired with champagne, for me)

                cold appetizer
                country pate with pickled red onion, brandy gelee, caperberry, herb salad, whole grain mustard, toast. Paired with a crisp gewurtztraminer, for me.

                seared duck breast rillette, spaghetti squash, baby fennel, olive vinaigrette; for him.

                hot appetizer
                pork and beans -- crispy pork belly with calypso beans and braised kale. Oh my god, this was good. Paired with a merlot. Date soup garnished with gooseberries, salsify wrapped in Serrano ham, spicy pecans, and piment d'espallette for him.

                seared kampachi, baby bok choy, soy-braised lotus root, grilled pineapple, guava gelee dots, and coconut. Paired with a Joel Gott unoaked chardonnay, for me. Crispy pheasant breast, giant gnocchi, spring garlic, oven-dried tomato, English peas for him.

                intermezzo: grapefruit sorbet for him, guava sorbet for me

                cheese course: black truffle gouda fondue

                amuse bouche: micro-lollipops; cotton candy and vanilla-flavored

                dessert: banana Boston creme pie parfait paired with a semillon in the trockenbeerenauslese style for me, vanilla zabaglione with berries for him -- served by pouring liquid nitrogen over the zabaglione tableside, to form an instant ice cream.

                It was heavenly; a great experience all around. I found the desserts to be the weakest point, so next time I will probably go for the cheese plate.

                I really hope Kevin Binkley gets the Beard this year.

            2. I'm out-of-town on a business trip, but had a great dinner with coworkers last night at M5 in Charlotte. I did send my wife a gift box of Fairy Tale Brownies so that I don't find the locks changed when I get home.

              Enjoy Tarbell's. I'm guardedly optimistic that restaurant can avoid the "amateur night" syndrome that afflicts many on this date each year.

              3 Replies
              1. re: silverbear

                Glad to hear you enjoyed your meal! Charlotte is a great restaurant townt that never gets any acknowledgement!

                Without a Valentine, I find myself in for the night. Meeting friends at the Grand Lux Cafe on Friday though. Has anyone been yet, I've been other locations and wondered if it was still just Cheesecake Factory with a different moniker!

                  1. re: Jess321

                    Thanks for the acknowledgment! I was able to persuade the others elsewhere!

              2. Thanks so much for asking! It is a good opportunity to gloat a bit.

                We are going to Kai tomorrow night. I am really excited.

                Tonight, is frozen dinner night, late, as we are both working late.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Booger

                  See above. :)

                  We had reservations at Kai for our birthdays last Nov/Dec, but had to cancel them. Enjoy!

                2. I took my 4yo at-home-sick kid to Zuppa's and Sweet Thang for lunch and a pretty little cupcake.

                  As for us adults, we will be dining in. It's a work night for pete's sake! We do have a sitter for Saturday, so we may do something thrilling.

                  1. Bistro Hotdish (minus the hotdish, of course). The wine board experts helped me with the wine pairings for my meal, so we'll see how it all goes.

                    I hate the idea of rushed service and *gasp* a fixed menu really turns me off. I did it once - never again.

                    1. Home for us too tho' we love our local spots. Two lobsters waiting to go in the pot and homemade lava cake with some nice dessert wine so we are set. We will wait to go out when it is not a set menu and a huge crowd, too.

                      Envious of themis with the reservations at Binkleys....

                      1. Alas, I am home for the evening... alone... in the dark... waiting... for the Apocalypse. :o)

                        But, I will be having Chicken Soulvaki, Cous Cous with Pecans and Dried Cranberries, and Squash Casserole.

                        This weekend, however, I will be celebrating with J. at La Hacienda at the Fairmont Princess.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Seth Chadwick

                          I, too, am going to Kai TOMORROW, because they were serving an abbreviated menu and charging a ridiculous $50 per head cancellation fee tonight. Since we're going with my hubby's brother and his wife, I especially didn't want to get stuck if something came up and we couldn't make it (they are coming in from out of town, plus have two toddlers, so you never know what could transpire).

                          As it happens, my husband would have been the party pooper -- he got stuck out of town on business unexpectedly. I am still irked with Kai, but we wanted to impress the relatives, and hubby refused to drive out to Binkley's (my first choice; I envy the lucky dogs on here who are going).

                          Has anyone heard of this kind of highway robbery on cancellation fees that Kai is pulling?

                          1. re: 1wino

                            Patiently waiting for my husband to get home. we are headed out for some peking duck ay jade palace. Our first time there.

                            1. re: 1wino

                              While I have only heard of it sporadically here in Phoenix metro, I do know that lots of restaurants on the coasts follow that practice, especially on high volume days.

                              1. re: 1wino

                                We go to T Cook's annually for Christmas dinner and they have a cancellation fee for that day( I think it was in the $60 range this past year). I think it's a 48 hour policy though as we did have to cancel this past year because of my mother's health issues. We were a week out though and didn't get charged.

                                I don't know that it's that unusual for high demand occasions?

                                1. re: 1wino

                                  It is becoming an unfortunate requirement more and more for special occasions. Don't be too harsh on Kai; the need has come about because too often people multiple book at several different restaurants and then pick the one they want to go to at the last minute and ditch the others. The restaurant gets stuck with an unfilled table that could have gone to a customer who really wanted to eat there. The fee the only leverage the restaurants have to prevent this practice.

                                  1. re: 1wino

                                    I think that's the same cancellation fee as at Binkley's.

                                2. We're going to Durant's for the first time for dinner. I read Seth's recent report and cross your fingers...hopefully it will be better tonight.

                                  1. I'm pooped out from catering a VDay tea for 35 this afternoon so we're sitting on the couch eating open faced gruyere sandwiches.

                                    Tomorrow we'll make veal piccata with some homemade pasta to celebrate instead of tonight.

                                    1. We had dinner at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea tonight....me the cafeteria (a yummy slice of 8-hour-old pizza) and my wife a grilled cheese sandwich from room service. She had a baby girl yesterday, so all things considered, not a bad way to spend Valentine's Day! :-)

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: ejs1492

                                        Congratulations, ejs! A future Chowhound in the making to be sure. :o)

                                        1. re: ejs1492

                                          congrats not sure wher my friends had their baby girl last night but possibly where u were. Congrats again how amazing to have a new life.

                                        2. I cooked!

                                          Had to skip out of work early to whip this up:

                                          - Grilled Caesar salad (first time - turned out great)
                                          - Asparagus steamed with balsamic
                                          - Mushrooms sauted in shitake oyster sauce
                                          - Petite french bread turned into garlic bread with marinara dipping sauce
                                          - Marinated onion, fresh pineapple and other veggies grilled on the BBQ
                                          - 2 small Rib-eye steaks rubbed with spices and garlic
                                          - Shrimp 3-Ways;
                                          * Simple butter & Garlic with fresh Rosemary from the garden
                                          * Shrimp in homemade spicy BBQ sauce
                                          * Asian shrimp with orange zest and citrus/ginger sauce with soba noodles

                                          We're stuffed and also full of wine. Time for bed!

                                          1. Hello! I have only posted once or twice before, but since Kai has been mentioned several times in this thread, I thought I would post the menu from this evening's dinner:)

                                            We have been to Kai several times now & I have to say it is definitey one of my all time favorite dining destinations. We made the reservations for tonight in the beginning of January & I think we were one of the first. Because we have younger children, we prefer to dine early, so we requested the first seating at 5:00 at with Feliciano as our server. (We really like him- he is very relaxed, very knowledgeable, and not stuffy at all- actually you can joke with him & he has quite the sense of humor!) We knew this dinner was going to cost us an arm & a leg, so we didn't even ask if there was going to be a prix fix menu- we had no idea going in what to expect. First let me post the menu for this evening- there was no alternatives except for the main course:

                                            Belon Oyster "Kai-Efeller" Creamed Spinach Gelee, Gruyere Crisps, Wild Boar Bacon and Hatch Chile Foam

                                            Pan-Roasted Basil Crusted Langoustines Chorizo Vinaigrette, Candied Kumquat, Grilled Piquillo Pepper Terrine

                                            Pacific Swordfish Poached in Gila River Olive Oil Turnip Gratin, Salad of Black Truffles and Celery Hearts Accented with Blood orange

                                            Pork Belly Lacquered with Agave Nectar Tomatillo Jam, Fried Mayonnaise & Braised Lettuces

                                            Smoked Red Current Chutney Sorbet & Guajillo Raisin Syrup

                                            Slow Cooked Confit of Poussin Medjool Date-Foie Gras Tart, Smoked Paprika Oil and Wilted Collard Greens


                                            Sonoran Stew of Cape Cod Bay Scallops and Crawfish Cactus Leaves, Native Beans and Roots Scented with Saffron


                                            Truffle Crusted Veal Tenderloin Melange of Sea Beans, Chardonnay Carrots,,, Mesquite Meal Crostini


                                            Buffalo Short Ribs Braised in Nebbiolo Grapes with Its Tartar Two Celery Puree, Foie Gras Emulsion, Pickled Radish


                                            Champagne Poached Sturgeon Caramelized Salsify, Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Grated Horseradish and caviar fondue

                                            Exotic Fromage Foam Sourdough Crostini, Comb Honey, MArinated Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes

                                            Meyer Lemon Vanilla Panna Cotta Micro Mint "Salad", Meyer Lemon OIl, Local Pistachio Brittle, Sweet Avocado Meringue

                                            The oyster was delicious- my husband is not a fan of oysters & barely got this one down. It was big, very cold, but yummy. The langoustines were out of this world- you could cut them with a fork & the accompaniments were delicious. The swordfish was the only dissapointment- the whole dish needed something crisp to go with it- the poached swordfish, then the mushy turnip, & the sauces were too much "smoothness"- the bits of blood orange were a nice contrast, but there wasn't enough to go around for each bite. The Pork belly was really good too- saved half of mine to reheat in a frying pan for breakfast tomorrow! The sorbet was delicious-( my favorite of theirs is the lemon sorbet with the the chile honey...yummm... I could dive into a bucket of that:) I had the veal tenderloin & my husband had the the buffalo short ribs. The tenderloin was good, but the ribs were out of this world. I actually started dipped my veal in the sauce from my husband's plate & Feliciano brought me a bowl of my own of the sauce- OMG YUMMMY. The Fromage fowm was a maytag blue cheese/champagne foam that was incredible & I literally could have licked the bowl of the honeycomb... I even said so out loud.... The panna cotta was good- I do not like chocolate so I was very glad to have a non-chocolate dessert on the menu. Except for the swordfish, every dish was supurbly put together with unusual pairings. It is nice to go out & get something completely different.

                                            Now we were expecting the possibility of a prix fix menu, but we were not told about it when we made the reservations, so I am sure this would bother some people. (There was actually a couple seated after us who obviously had no idea what Kai was about- wearing gym shoes & casual clothing & their cell phone was ringing within moments of sitting down- they were very loud, so we heard their entire conversation...I'm not too sad to say they left soon after) Two tastings were $330. We chose not to do the wine pairings, but ordered some wine separately. It was expensive, but the service was impeccable & worth eating ramen noodles soup at home for a week:))))

                                            1. We were among the crowd that stayed home...my birthday is next week, so will wait to go out them. We had Rib-eye steak from the Awatukee farmers market (grass finished from a NM ranch) on the grill -- very good, served with a red wine - onion reduction compound butter, a spinach (Mediterranean type, also from the farmers market) gratin, orzo, then chocolate filled meringue with strawberries (quite surprised to get pretty good strawberries at Safeway for $3 a box!). And Champagne!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: firecooked

                                                Just returned from Jade Palace- Fabulous experience we ordered an eggroll to share, lettuce wraps medicocre

                                                As the main we got the peking duck ehich is the reason I went. It was GREAT!!! worth the 20 somehting drive. The place was slammed not due to v-day but a bunch of regulars as lEon made his rounds.

                                                The duck was really close to NY style the bst I have had in 10 years. Enough to fill 4 people. They gave a free chocolate dessert very rich 3 layers of choc. We also had a bottle of MUMM the bill was $120 incl tip for 2.

                                                We then chose to move to the bar area where Leon let me taste several wines gratis and gave us a few drinks on the house. I spoke with a few others that dine there 2 days a week. I would reccomend the place to anyone looking for chinese NY style and a great atmoshere and friendly serveice. The man who served us our peking and wrapped the pancakes was as if he has being doing it for decades.

                                                I had a fab time and can't wait to reaturn. You should all go experience the great aura.

                                              2. Forgive the interruption, but please keep the focus on local chow - but not chow at home! If you want to talk about what you cooked at home, you are welcome to post about it on the Home Cooking board - there's an existing thread discussing that subject:


                                                Thank you.

                                                1. We normally don't go out on Valentine's Day, but this time we had a very nice dinner at Tandoori Village on 43rd Ave. and Bell -- no crowds, great food, inexpensive, close to home.

                                                  1. Well, since we were in the air and not flying FC, it was pretzels and sparkling water! OTOH, two nights before, we did Le Paradou, and the next night, Vidalia's, so all was not lost.


                                                    Le Paradou
                                                    601 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC

                                                    1990 M St NW # 2, Washington, DC