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Fox Restaurant Concepts (Phoenix or Tucson)

Any opinions or thoughts on the Fox Restaurant Concepts restaurants like Zinburger, Sauce, North, etc in Phoenix or Tucson? I've never been to any of these places, but have been hearing about them more and more. Thanks!

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  1. I've been to Sauce at Val Vista and Baseline in Mesa, and I quite like it. The spinach, pancetta, and goat cheese salad is quite tasty, and I love the wild mushroom and truffled arugula pizza. I also love that the nutritional information is available, and their food is actually quite reasonably healthy. I don't often remember Sauce exists when we're casting about for a place to dine, so it's obviously not truly amazing, but I've enjoyed my experiences there.

    1. I went to Olive & Ivy a couple of months ago. I stared at the gelato case for a couple of minutes while the duo behind the counter chatted idly while cleaning the espresso machine next to the gelato. I suppose if I drove an exotic car and had the valet take care of it they might have noticed me. Since I didn't feel like being an interruption to the staff's social hour, I went somewhere else where I felt welcomed and haven't been back. I have no desire to try any of the other Fox restaurants.

      1. I went to Sauce's Phx location for dinner once. A friend of ours who is definitely of the "food is fuel" mindset had chosen it, because he knew he could get a big salad there. I thought the food was a decent value but found the vibe chain-y.

        If I lived or worked nearby, I could see myself occasionally grabbing lunch there. But like modryth, I never think, "Oh! I know. Let's go to Sauce for dinner." This is partly because I'd rather patronize eateries that are not part of some corporate empire. Also, at dinner time, I tend to favor venues where I feel comfortable lingering a bit--Sauce did not evoke that feeling for me.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hohokam

          oops. forgot the place link...

          742 E Glendale Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85020

        2. My experience with Fox has been limited to Sauce and Olive & Ivy. Sauce was okay, but I haven't made any concerted effort to return.

          Olive & Ivy, on the other hand, was a complete waste of time. Poor service, uninspired food and a feeling like I wasn't welcome. I guess since I am not one of the pretty people and O&I is, after all, right on the old canal - oh! sorry! I meant Waterfront - I probably shouldn't have gone in in the first place.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Seth Chadwick

            I got the same cold treatment at Olive & Ivy, but generally the service at other Fox Concept resto's are fine. Their restaurants aren't outstanding, but they're good for a diversion once in a while, especially in Tucson where we need some variety to augment our favorites.

            1. re: Seth Chadwick

              I pretty much straight across the board dislike Fox restaurants.

              We used to go to Bloom several years ago & it was really good. Several terrible visits made me want to never return, especially with the disappointment that it has been pretty good.

              Went to Olive & Ivy about 6 months ago & I ended up riled up beyond belief. It was one of the worst dinners I've ever had. Empty restaurant. Had a reservation (had a gift card). Seated us right next to the waiter's kiosk. Our waiter was a complete jerk. The food was lousy. Our courses were rushed like crazy. Hated it.

              With that being said, the extended family picked Sauce a few weeks ago when we were out for a Saturday lunch. I was actually very pleasantly surprised. Wile I totally agree with others here that I'd rather patronize an independent place like PB, Humble Pie, Cibo, etc., I would definitely go back optimistically if someone wanted to go. Wouldn't choose it myself but I wouldn't mind returning.

              I've heard North is decent and Greene House. If someone wants to go, I'll go but I definitely won't initiate it. I won't go back to Olive & Ivy ever. Especially with so much other great food so close - hit Digestif twice within the last week & like it!

            2. Sauce is a pretty good place to grab a salad or pizza for lunch. I like the chicken and pine nut salad, and I've always found the service to be friendly and quick. This is a chain concept that they want to grow. That said, I"ve always found the food to be tasty and consistent (plus they have diet Sobe cranberry/grapefruit on the soda fountain).

              I used to go to Bloom at Gainey Ranch for lunch, and they had great salads, as well. Dinner there is good, too.

              NOrth is ok, and I know some people who like it, but I've never been that impressed with the food.

              We went to Olive and Ivy for dinner shortly after it opened, and we found the food to be rather boring and bland. Their signature lamb shank lacked any real flavor. I thought the service was ok but not great by any means. We haven't been back, but I would consider returning for a drink on the patio and maybe an appetizer. I wouldn't bother for dinner, although I've read they changed the chef and menu since my visit.

              Green House in Keirland is actually pretty good. The food was great during our last visit there, and we found the service to be very good. They even kept bringing out tastes of wine so my friend could pick a bottle he liked.


              2 Replies
              1. re: barry

                i think sauce is just meh. i thought olive and ivy was ground zero for the $30k millionaire happy hour.

                but green house? i went there with some friends after their new chef started - they were regulars at his old place in san diego called 'region'...i liked it, he kept sending us tasting stuff that he was trying out. service was good, nice wines - he's keeping them to smaller producers, under 500 barrels so there are some real finds.

                but honestly kierland is just way too far for me to go but maybe once every year or so.

                1. re: barry

                  When it first opened, I used to do Bloom WEEKLY (Creature of habit) and I enjoyed their salads immensely. They had a great lobster salad, but after about four EXTREMELY poor visits we decided not to return. Tried it again about a year ago, even worse!

                  I feel Fox restaurants are very overrated- all talk no substance.

                2. I have found Fox's concepts to suffer from the same fundamental issue of unevenness - if the food is good, somehow the service suffers, and vice versa. I have been to every one of their concepts (including the now-defunct Bistro Zin in Tucson) and have found this to be generally true among all of them. I've actually had some excellent food and service at Greene House, which has impressed me the most (besides Bistro Zin, which I found to be excellent on all counts), and some abysmal food at Olive & Ivy, which I would NOT go back to unless I heard overwhelming praise. North has been the most consistent, and perhaps my favorite, because there are a few items on the menu that I like and will order again and again, while being able to dine at the bar; service there however, in my experience, is rushed and unorganized.

                  I have nothing against any of the FRC establishments, it's just that there are a lot of options out there.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: azhotdish

                    It's interesting regarding the positives about Greene House - I was told by one of the employees at North that it was the only restaurant in the Fox group where the chef is given free reign to create his own menu.

                    1. re: Rubee

                      Interesting - on my first visit (about a month after they opened), we were persuaded by our server (who had come from the LGO group) to try a dessert (gratis) - to paraphase, "our pastry chef worked at the French Laundry and did a spin-off". It was basically a hot chocolate on steroids, I can't remember all the details, but it was wonderful and I remember it to this day. Sounds like the idea is working well @ Greene House.

                  2. Zinburger in Tucson is what replaced Bistro Zin(which I liked). It is considered a gourmet burger place. The inside is cold, white and antiseptic. It looks like a European Hospitial waiting room. The beef is supposedly ground twice daily and our burgers were a bit dry. Ordered the truffle oil fries which did not taste any different from regular fries($5 extra). Burgers come with nothing but a pickle chip(not even a good sliced pickle, reminded me more of a pickle at the school cafeteria). The burgers at In and Out are more of treat than these.
                    Expensive, antiseptic and not worth the trip.

                    Bring back Bisto Zin.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: italianscallion

                      My husband and I went to Montana Avenue (on Grant, in Tucson) last fall and it was ok. I started with the bleu cheese potato chips (wonderful!) and followed with the special, a serviceable cioppino. I also had a "Montana Margarita" with pomegranate juice which was pretty good. My husband had the "Bistro Zin Ribeye" which he liked. For a tab of close to $100 was it worth it? Well...no. Would I go back some afternoon for another order of the bleu cheese potato chips and a drink? Oh, absolutely! The atmosphere is a little on the industrial side, so it's pretty noisy, definitely not the place for a quiet, romantic dinner. But the service was very good and attentive.

                    2. So....Sam Fox is a semi-finalist for Best Restauranteur for this year's James Beard Awards....would this inquiry be related to that?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: desertsun

                        We already know that, of late, a James Beard Award can be meaningless. Nobu is certainly worthy but El Chorro?????

                        1. re: jock

                          being nominated on the long list and making it to the short list are two very different things...it surely is an honor to make the long list but IMO there is no way that Fox makes the short list...his spots are lacking any true culinary edge, but they got flatbread ;)

                          1. re: mkiss

                            El Chorro made the short list. Unbelievable.

                      2. Bistro Zin was one of my favorite restaurants in Tucson (along with Feast and Tavolino, if you're keeping score), but they closed it down in order to open Zinburger, which is just ok.

                        Sauce is a fun place for a pizza. Again, nothing to write home about, but they get my lunch business a couple of times a month.

                        I've been underwhelmed by North every time I've been.

                        Haven't been to Olive and Ivy, and don't see myself going, based on the reviews here.

                        I was at Greene House last week, my third visit, and it has been consistently good, but never quite crosses the line into great, though it does try pretty hard.

                        Bloom and Wildflower are both very good places. Probably my current favorites in the chain.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Booklegger451

                          In Tucson North is probably my favorite restaurant. The food is always excellent and the service is prompt and friendly. Recently, my wife and I have been going to Wildflower--'twas off our beaten path for a few years--and the meals and service have also been excellent. Sauce is always fine, but not one of my favorites. Montana Avenue suffers from an uninteresting menu; I can never find anything that excites me. Re: Zinburger, I'm following my mom's rule: if you don't have anything nice to say, be quiet!

                        2. Zinburger, while not excellent on the one time I visited, had a few redeeming qualities. Granted, there were more negative than positive, but it could have been attributed to the fact hat I was with a large party. We had made a reservation for 7:00. We arrived at 6:55, and were not sat until at least 8:15. There was a game on the TVs they have, and people were being extremely rude and after they had finished eating, were just sitting there. It's a restaurant, NOT a sports bar! I'm not sure why they have TVs in there anyway...

                          There is also zero space for people to wait for a table, save for a teeny tiny entrance in front of the host stand (where they will glare at you if you're there for more than a minute). We ordered a bottle of wine from the bar and had to awkwardly divide our party up into different areas of the restaurant to stand around so as to not be in the way of the waiters. They constantly were running into us and made us feel guilty for having to stand in their way, as they kept having to run food out to the patio (right near the front entrance).

                          After waiting for about 45 minutes, a server brought over a plate of zucchini fries for free. They later brought out sweet potato chips, as well as normal fries (we were waiting for a longggg time, especially since we had a reservation). I thought that was a nice gesture of the staff to give those to us for free, although none of them were even that tasty.

                          I found my Ahi burger to be very tasty, but the Vegetable burger was a bad imitation of a Morningstar farms creation. My friends that ordered regular burgers liked them, but they aren't very picky. The truffle fries were awful, but the saving grace of all of the meal were the desserts. The shakes are REALLY tasty. I didn't order my own but got to taste a few and all were thick, creamy, and unique...although they are pretty pricey for shakes ($6).

                          I would recommend visiting Zinburger on a non-weekend night, and only with small parties, and don't order the vegetable burger!

                          As far as North and Sauce, they're definitely not "bad", but they're not the best. They're good at what they try to be...but by no means special. Wildflower/Bloom (same menu essentially) are good for a nice dinner with people who have varied tastes, but I've had much better. I've enjoyed most of the things I've had at Montana Avenue (the chicken sandwich was good as I recall), but it was pricey and the quality could have been better. Olive and Ivy is extremely pretentious, but I enjoy their flatbreads. It's also a good place to go and have a drink at night, provided you don't mind the pretentious vibe.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Jess321

                            My husband and I went at 2pm on a weekday, and it was pleasantly empty, quiet, and our server was very nice. My burger was just okay, but my hubby raved that his chicken/turkey/whatever burger (I wasn't paying much attention, could you tell?) was the best he'd ever had. I liked having the ability to get decent wine/beer/shakes w/ the burgers.

                            1. re: Jess321

                              For our first night at Zinburger my wife, daughter and I waited about 40 minutes. I wasn't terribly bothered until I saw two couples I knew, who walked in at least ten minutes after we did, seated before us. I threw a fit and, in return, we were promptly seated and given zucchini and truffle fries "on the house." (More on that later!)

                              My wife liked her turkey burger and the Samburger that my daughter ordered looked and tasted--I had one bite--pretty good (although it didn't begin to compare favorably with Delux in Phoenix). My Veggie burger was awful. It tasted like melted cheese ona bun with "something" under it. I also thought the buns were uniformly bad. They had a spongy quality that was very unpleasant, and were tasteless too boot!

                              The banana cream almost redeemed the entire evening. Truly the best slice of cream pie I've ever had, and I'm a cream pie fan!

                              Then there was the check. Someone goofed, I guess, as we were charged for the "free" fried stuff. With a teenage daughter who hates scenes, I just paid. I did call and complain and was treated very well on the phone. I was offered a refund and a promise that I'd be taken care of next time. Unfortunately, I got busy and never popped in to get the refund.

                              I do think Sam Fox is a very good operator and, in his markets, I think he provides an excellent product. I expect, with time, that Zinburger will improve.

                            2. Looking for a good meal and nice dining experience? Don't eat at these restaurants, but save your money for a more worthwhile, special place.

                              However, that being said, I really like their happy hours. Good food, reasonable prices, and a nice place to sit and chat. If that's the route you go, stick to the "conventional"-type appetizers, as their creative dishes (zucchini chips) fall way flat.

                              And, if you are really into bargain hunting, go to Costco and buy a pack of gift certificates there, because with the purchase of 100, i think, you get another $10 (or was it 20) card free... thereby driving down the price at least 10%.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: oryza

                                The Costco deal is $100 of credit for $80. The credit is good for food, alcohol and tipping. It's a very good deal!