General Restaurant Week Reviews - Phx
I wanted to create a canonical list with reviews from the first Restaurant Week in Phoenix. There have been a few scattered reviews, but I was hoping we could collect some general impressions in one topic, so future CHers could check the post to determine which restaurants are the best bet for future restaurant weeks.
Please take a moment to review your RW meals. Tell us what menu items stood out, how the service was, and how you would rate the value.
I went to 2 places:
Bourbon Steak was great. The food was delicious, the portions we ample, and the duck fat fries that were complimentary were to die for (especially the truffle ones). Staff was very accommodating, with no "attitude" about "cheap people just here for the RW deal". The sweet corn soup was my favorite dish, as it was perfect, and really captured the "essence" of the ingredients. Another huge hit was the begniets for desert, which tasted just like they do in New Orleans. We each had a glass of wine with our dinner (which were fairly pricey), and our meal came out around $100 out the door with tip. I thought this was a tremendous value, and would likely eat here again (even if it wasn't during RW).
Also went to Roka Akor. This experience was only OK. Our waitress clearly was not interested in pushing the RW menu. Of the items we did have off the RW menu, the butterfish tataki was really great. The fish was super high quality, and the accompaniments added complimentary flavors and textures. The main courses from the RW menu were Filet Mignon, and Salmon. They were both terrific. The steak was cooked perfectly (exactly the temperature we requested), and the salmon glaze was charred perfectly, while the interior was still moist and flavorful. The chocolate cake for desert was only fair (but I don't think desert is a Japanese Restaurant specialty). No-one at the table cared for the green tea center (as green slime in your desert isn't always appealing). My main gripe for this place, is that we were "suckered" into buying bottled water. We asked for still water, and were brought a bottle of Voss (at $8). It felt like our waitress was trying to increase the bill (other reviews indicate that other people have the same experience). We added a few extra items to our meal (but probably didn't need to, as we had way too much food in the end). Overall, the RW meal was a decent value, but I didn't fall in love with Roka, and likely will not return anytime soon (I think there are a few better Japanese restaurants in town that are superior, and a better value - Hana and Yasu come to mind immediately).
My only RW experience was Capital Grille. Overall, a solid B.
We all had the RW menu and selected the following: two French Onion Soups, one Caesar Salad, one Mixed Green Salad, three Kona-Crusted Sirloins, one Filet, two Flourless Chocolate Cakes and two Creme Brulees. The winner was the Kona-Crusted Sirloins. They were fantastic. But I will also give a nod to my Mixed Green Salad which I thought was one of the better salad presentations I have seen in some time.
We also ordered the Au Gratin Potatoes and some Vidalia Onion Rings as add ons. The Carrots and Sugar Snap Peas in Cranberry Walnut Butter was included with the RW menu. All of the sides were excellent.
What put a damper on our visit was the service. Just too many minor things (missing cutlery, lack of refills, disappearing staff) that added up to keep Cap Grille from getting an A. Sure, the place was a madhouse and the hostess told us they had served over 305 covers of the RW menu before we arrived at 8:30. However, we were perplexed to discover why the staff (servers and bus) would be absent from the floor all at the same time.
Our bill was $187 and change before tip. We thought it was a steal for what we got and considering CG's normal pricing.
We went to Cowboy Ciao with 50/50 results. We loved the food. While I thought my four crispy shrimp was a bit small for a main dish, the flavors were good. The chopped Stetson was great. Dessert was only ok, mostly because the only available choice for me was bread pudding, which was probably good, but I'm not a bread pudding fan.Tara loved all of her choices (chopped Stetson salad, Pistachio salmon, and chocolate peanut butter pot pie).
Service was the big let-down. No water refills for most of the meal, never asked if we wanted refills for our by-the-bottle cokes, absent server, automatic tip that the server added that should not have been mandatory. The RW menu included two glasses of wine. Since we aren't wine drinkers, I asked if we could substitute Cokes for the wine, but was told it was a fixed menu, so we had to pay extra for the Cokes but never got the wine. I could actually go on, but won't.
To their credit, upon seeing my previous post, the restaurant actually contacted me to find out exactly how the experience went so wrong and how they could improve the situation.
we absolutely loved the cake with the maccha center at roka :D
the food was great, we added a thing or two, but it was still expensive as all get out. i probably won't be returning any time soon because of the price tag.
I went to Capitol Grille and Lon's but I'll review them separately:
Capitol Grille: A
I did Capitol Grille Saturday night with my bf, mom and her boyfriend. Mom and her bf were celebrating their 4-year anniversary. I had driven there earlier to drop off a vase and flowers to be the centerpieces of our table, and one of the staff graciously accepted it. Our reservations were at 6:30 and when we got there, the flowers were indeed highlighted in the center of the table, with some complimentary rose petals strewn around.
I always ask the server what they recommend, and this one highly recommended their Caesar Salad, Kona -Crusted Sirloin, and strawberry with ice cream (I'm sure there was a fancier name for it) dessert. I suppose none of us wanted to risk it with the appetizers, as we all had the Caesar Salad. The others went with the Kona-Crusted Sirloin, and I got the filet. For dessert, we had an order of of the creme brulee, a flourless chocolate cake, and two strawberry with ice cream with an incredibly sweet reduction (maybe raspberry and sherry?). 3 of us absolutely loved the caesar salad. Like Seth pointed out in another post, the dressing on there was really light, which worked perfectly for us. This was the first time I've had a Caesar salad that came with the dressing mixed in that wasn't too thick or overwhelming. The entrees, which was served with sides of carrots and sugar snap peas as well as mashed potatoes, were definitely the highlights of the meal. There were a few grunts of "the best steak I've ever had" from the general male direction of our table. The kona-crusted sirloin slices that I tried, both medium and medium-rare, were cooked perfectly. The medium-rare pieces that I kept on taking from my bf's plate were wonderful in their texture... I think it was the first time I truly appreciated the texture of a cow. My filet mignon was, however, slightly better. The flavor and texture combined to create something close to red-meat heaven, where all good hunters go when they die. The desserts, after the entrees, were disappointing. After the way our server lauded the strawberry with ice cream, perhaps I was expecting something more than strawberries with ice cream. There's a restaurant in Tucson where a dessert comes out with a little firecracker on top... I really wish there had been a firecracker on top.
I haven't been to that many upper-scale restaurants (probably less than 10), so I don't have that many experiences with service to compare it to. However, at least for us, noen of the waitstaff were remiss in their duties. Since we sat near an air vent, our server promptly brought my mom and I shawls when requested. Our drinks were promptly filled, and every once in a while, someone would come and inquire to how we were doing.
So, overall, especially at the RW prices, it was a fantastic deal. I hope CG participates in RW again next year!
Second RW review: Lon's at the Hermosa: B-
Thursday night, I gathered up 6 of my friends to join me at Lon's. Unfortunately, we were right over the patio limit of 6 people, so I resigned myself to looking wishfully out at the courtyard from our table with a courtyard view.
Each of us started out with a drink of choice, wines for everyone else, and a mojito that I pounced upon the moment I saw it in the drinks menu. Despite what I had read about with other peoples’ experiences of a fast-paced meal, ours was incredibly sedate. Our drinks did not arrive at our table until about 10 minutes after ordering; the first courses about 15-20 minutes after ordering.
As there were 7 of us, we were able to order the full breadth of the RW menu. I had the shortribs to start. Anything that has mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes is an instantaneous arrow to my heart (in a good way), and the sweet potatoes in this dish not less so. The combination of the shortribs, sweet potatoes and carrot jus was a carnivore’s delight, and probably the best part of my meal. The salad was also well received. At this point, there were definitely no leftovers on any plates.
For the main course, I ordered the ravioli with shrimp and olive oil cured tomatoes with crimini mushrooms.... It wasn’t until I tried everyone else’s dishes that I realized, sadly, that I made a poor choice. Instead of large, jumbo shrimp that I would expect from a restaurant of Lon’s “reputation”, I got the medium-small shrimp that sells for $6.99 a lb at the grocery store. The mushrooms, probably the best tasting part of the dish, were few. So these small shrimp and few mushrooms were piled upon a few large slices of pasta (tasted like homemade), with a drizzle of the lobster jus. It sounds a lot better than it tasted. It was bad, just “blah”.
However, I was able to also taste the other entrees. My companion to the left ordered the pan-roasted scallops with roasted pepper spaetzle, organic spinach and corn jus. Holy cow, I’ve never had roasted pepper spaetzle, or any spaetzle before, but I’m hooked. The combination of the roasted spaetzle and corn jus were like little stars shooting off into the sunset (except the sun had set already)... just beautiful. The scallops, unfortunately, were like my shrimp, not anything special. It could have benefitted from slightly more seasoning, or a more flavorful sauce. The beef tenderloin with purple mashed potatoes that I was able to negotiate off of someone’s plate was good as well. It’s hard to say if it’s just because there were mashed potatoes, or because I can’t remember anything negative about the dish. I think the entree that was the biggest hit of the night was the chicken breast with goat cheese grits. The chicken by itself was ok, a well-roasted chicken that was nice, tender and juicy. However, when the goat cheese grits was added to it, became what batman became after his utility belt... better and more powerful. One of my friend called me up last night to reminisce over the chicken and goat cheese grits .
Is it me or are desserts not as cared about at this restaurant. Both the fruit tarte and chocolate torte were decent, but driving down the road to the Gelato Spot offered better dessert.
Overall, Lon’s at the Hermosa is... ok... but, to me at least, not worth their regular menu meal (although I may go back for a mojito or two), and is skating the thin line of whether or not it was worth even the RW price for me. I just need to not think about the opportunity cost of that meal (I could have gone to CG again).
i'm sorry you didn't enjoy your lon's experience as much as we did. for what its worth, the shrimp that was in the open face ravioli really are special.
not only are they farm raised *which is infinitely better for the environment*, they are also local, which means they don't have to be hauled half way round the world. that allows them to be infinitely more fresh once delivered, than again, any fished from any place around the world.
it also allows the restaurant to decide what size they like, and purchase accordingly.
here's more info about them :
we went to 3 places : lons, noca, and roka akor.
on all three - the food was excellent, the portions were fine, and we thought everything was a great value for the 29 bucks. general comments :
roka akor's rw red wine was 80 bucks a bottle, and not labeled other than 'restaurant week red'. not that we wanted a cheap wine, or a 'sale' price, but 'red' for 80 bucks seemed a little funky.
the best service was at noca, followed by lon's, then roka akor. i got my app wellllllllll after everyone else's, and got the standard 'we bring things out in no particular order' speech. there staff is legion, and we were well handled, altho we did feel like we got the upsale pressure here more than any place.
noca's 6 dollar pasta add-on was the deal of the week. their marscapone stuffed spinach mezzaluna's were addictive. what isn't to love about noca, i mean really.
lon's - we loved. i think i already wrote about it ;) super nice staff, from the hostess to our server to the 2 sommeliers. we got a tour of the wine cellar, loved the food. i thought my open face shrimp ravioli was great, loved the short rib, and thought my chocolate dessert had a great texture - light and airy, fabulous. didn't love my friends lemon tart thingie. my friend's already been back for dinner off the regular menu, and i can't wait to get back.
they only place i'm not running back to is roka akor. don't get me wrong - the food was great, the service was attentive, its gorgeous inside. we shared one small appetizer *omg the butternut squash tempura is crave-inducing*, 2 drinks, and spent almost 100 bucks a person with tip. i just kept thinking 'holy moly, this would have been a small fortune if we'd ordered off the menu'.
4 of us went to Ristorante Tuscany at Desert Ridge. Here's a partial copy of a review I wrote:
We decided on the following two appetizers from the restaurant week menu: the melon salad and the carpaccio. We also ordered the crostini sampler from the regular menu.
The melon salad was a large bowl of cubed yellow watermelon, intermixed with heirloom tomatoes, chunks of really good quality feta cheese and chopped fresh mint leaves. This salad was very refreshing and I loved the combination of salt and sweet.
The carpaccio was several slices of beef, cut ultra thin, topped with a mound of fresh arugula dressed with a light truffle oil. One bite of this salad and I was hooked.
The crostini platter included an assortment of toppings: chopped tomato with onion and basil, chickpea puree, and burrata cheese and roasted pepper. All three varieties were equally good in their own way. I honestly couldn't decide on a favorite.
My husband and I both went with the free form rabbit lasagna as our entree. I'll try my best to explain. (boy I wish I had my camera) There was layer of rosemary ricotta cheese spread thin on the bottom of each plate. Over the ricotta was a large lasagna noodle topped with a mound of Tuscan style rabbit sugo and then another lasagna noodle. All of this was covered in a bechamel sauce. I absolutely loved this dish. From the quality of the ingredients, to the mix of flavors, to the whole free form idea; it was all wonderful.
Our friend Chris ordered the veal osso buco served on a bed of risotto. If you've never had osso buco before it's basically a braised veal shank that is traditionally served with risotto. Chris's veal was fall of the bone tender, as it should be, and was topped with a horseradish gremolita. I couldn't resist a taste.
Haley went with an entree from the restaurant's regular menu; saffron pappardella with lobster. The homemade saffron pasta was cooked al dente and included several large pieces of lobster. The pasta course at Ristorante Tuscany comes in two sizes. Haley opted for the small which we all agreed was plenty big for one person.
Tiramisu was the restaurant week dessert option. Not usually my first choice (I think I've just eaten way too much of it over the years), but this was good. It was very creamy and served in a small cocktail glass. I prefer this consistency over the kind that is sliced like a piece of cake.
The evening was perfect; the food was delicious, the company was great and the waitress brought us complimentary orange filled Italian chocolates to enjoy on our way home.
I did two RW visits: one to Sol Y Sombra, and the other to Roy's in Chandler.
Sol Y Sombra was terrific -- on a Wednesday night, they had flamenco guitar, and there was no appreciable upsell (we ordered two extra dishes, a very lovely inexpensive bottle of grenache rose, recommended by the sommelier, and a bottle of Basque cider) and no attitude for ordering from the RW menu. Two couples ate for about $100 each. My only regret was not fully understanding that they would bring everything out tapas style, in courses, rather than bringing each dish to the person who ordered it -- if we'd known, we would have ordered each possible dish and not doubled up on certain items. Gracious service, loved the food, loved even better the sunset over the desert. This place should go on the 'places with a spectacular view' lists. My hat's off to Aaron May, because I think he really 'got' the essence of Restaurant Week -- use it to expose your true talents to more people.
Roy's was wonderful, and to those who would scoff at the idea of going to a chain on Restaurant Week, in my defense I have to say I have been to most of the Roy's in the islands and never had a bad experience, and my sister loves it as well, it was her pick. My only regret was that I didn't add on the yellowfin poke. I perhaps ordered badly, I went with the salmon instead of the braised shortribs, but the chocolate souffle at the end made up for that handily. I should say that Roy's does the same prix fixe menu all summer; it's just that the summer 3-course selection is $35 and they drop it to $29 for restaurant week.
We managed to make it to Lon's during RW. We were generally pleased with the food, but it was a tad uneven.
After a bit of consultation with our server and one of the sommeliers, we settled on our meal and a very nice bottle of wine. On our server's recommendation, we both ordered the short rib and sweet potato starter. We were both of the opinion that the elements of the dish were quite good on their own, but didn't necessarily work well together. Given the choice between seeing it as one flawed dish or seeing as two very nice small dishes, I opted for the latter view. :-)
For our main dishes, we ordered the beef tenderloin medallions with mashed purple potatoes and the open ravioli with shrimp ravioli (mentioned above). The ravioli dish was clearly the weaker of the two entrees we ordered. My problem wasn't so much the size of the shrimp, but rather the preparation. The shrimp themselves were overcooked and tough, and the lobster jus, while rich, was not very "lobster-y"--any lobster flavor that might have been present was overwhelmed and obscured by the seasonings. I wouldn't say it was a bad dish, but I had the feeling that it probably was not up the restaurant's own standards. We're not generally fillet people, but we did enjoy the tenderloin medallions, potatoes, and accompanying crispy greens quite a bit.
I guess we are in the minority, in that we really loved the lemon tart. After such a rich dinner, I found the...well...tartness of the lemon custard quite refreshing. The accompanying strawberry sorbet provided welcome relief from the heat of yet another sultry desert night. We were split on the chocolate dessert. I say something was scorched during cooking, she says it was just smoky tasting. I liked it at first, but after 3 or 4 bites, I tired of the "smokiness" and finished my portion only out of a sense of duty.
Service was attentive and polished throughout. We never felt rushed or neglected. And of course, the setting is hard to beat. While I wasn't blown away by the meal, I did enjoy it enough to consider giving Lon's another try.
I am adding links to the other RW reviews that were already posted:
Menu Change Discussion:
Where to Go?
The Estate House:
Point in Tyme:
We went to Grille at the Wigwam and liked the short ribs, king crab risotto, hangar steak, and apple fritter the most. Service was a B, and overall it got the nod over Bourbon Steak.
At Bourbon Steak we loved the duck fat fries,burratta with tomatoes, corn soup, my sole, and the beignets. the hangar steak was good but more charred than they liked. Service and room was A. I would return to both.