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The Kitchen - Scottsdale

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I checked out The Kitchen last night in the old Dish location at Doubletree and Scottsdale Roads in the Gainey Village Center. They made some changes, but it still resembles Dish quite bit. It's basically the same concept. Although the owners tried to open one in Sacremento (I think), this is actually their first location and their flagship. They want to open in other cities, and also have kiosks serving pre-made sandwiches and salads.

The middle of the very big room still houses the oval deli counter with pre-made salads and sides facing the entrance, deli meat on one end and entrees around the other side. Separate stations still make to order salads and sandwiches, and there is a wood fired pizza counter and hot main plates area.

On the back side of the deli counter is a very large cheese area that holds a really good cheese assortment for Phoenix. They plan to have over 300 cheeses there, and they already employ two cheese mongers who previously worked for cheese distributors. I missed the cheese mongers who work from 7 am to 7pm, but the selection there already is pretty impressive. I noticed many, many cheeses I've never seen in Phoenix, along with plenty I've never heard of (and I really like cheese). They treat it like a real cheese shop in that you can try anything (anything!) they have. Although they have many of the cheeses cut and wrapped, they will take the main block of any cheese and slice you off a nice taste of anything. In fact, as I was looking, two employees separately made a point of telling me I could try anything in the case (and they weren't even the cheese experts). This is how a real cheese shop works, and I have to tell you, it was great. I tried several cheeses and purchased three, including a Valdeon goat cheese, a firmer goat and one cheddar. The woman who normally worked the deli counter was very helpful, and she is obviously trying to learn the cheeses. I will definitely be back for the cheese.

In addition, they bake their own bread, cakes and pastries. They also carry several breads from Simply Bread, and those looked a little better than the in house products. I love Simply Bread though, so I may be biased.

Dish had several salads you could order, or create your own from a ton of ingredients. This has been scaled down considerably. There are 8 salads on the menu. You can substitute ingedients in and out, but I didn't see a create your own option. The salads range from $7-11, and you can add red bird chicken for $3, skirt steak for $4 or tuna salad for $2. I ordered the Chopped salad ($8) with romaine, blue cheese, ham, bacon, salami, tomato, basil, red onion, hazelnutes and blue cheese dressing. It was very good and fresh. I think it was smaller than Dish, but still plenty for one. They make the dressings fresh, including a pretty good one with mustard seeds.

I also sampled several of the prepared items in the deli case. I must say, they not only make samples available, they make a point of asking you if you want to try something, and encouraging you to sample. Everyone was very friendly and proud of their products. I ended up purchasing some of the curry chicken salad, a smoked salmon and pasta "salad" with a lot of other ingredients that was delicious and a panzanella salad. All were very good. They were around $7-9 per pound.

The other side of the facility used to be a restaurant. It is now a cafe/wine bar. Very casual with an open kitchen. They offer 31 wines by the glass. The retail wine area is open, although the options are somewhat basic with a few gems mixed in (I saw a 2006 Pax syrah). You can also purchase a bottle retail and drink it there for a $9 corkage fee. There are 20 beers available. The have the 4 Peaks 8th Street Ale, Chimay Blue Label, Dogfish IPA, Stella, etc.

The menu includes several small plates, including crab cakes ($12), thai coconut oven roasted mussels ($10) and bruschetta trio ($9). They also offer new world and European cheese plates ($17 and $16), as well as an artisinal charcuterie plate ($16). Larger plates include salmon and scallop osso buco ($15), rack of lamb ($17) and short ribs ($15). There are also 4 wood fired pizzas ($13-14).

There are also several racks of higher end grocery products and some interesting olive oils. They just opened a week or so ago, but everything seemed to be running relatively smoothly when I was there. The staff is very friendly, helpful and professional, and they seem excited to be there.

Prices are somewhat high, including the wines, but I guess you have to consider the area and the rent. The cheese prices were high for those I recognized and have seen locally. That doesn't bother me, though, because they offer a lot of cheeses you can't find locally otherwise, and they will cut you off whatever size you want to purchase. I'm pretty excited to have a "cheese shop" in town (in case you couldn't tell).

The food I tried yesterday was good. The quality (to me) was higher than Dish. They need to fill in their retail wine area, maybe offer more olive oils and other retail products, but they are off to a good start. The cheese alone will bring me back. It's a great concept, but a tough time to introduce it, especially in the same location that Dish failed. One employee told me that Dish execs didn't have true restaurant or grocery experience, while the new owners do. I hope they make it.

Barry

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  1. Wow. Thanks for the detailed report.

    I too am very excited by the prospect of finally having a proper cheese shop in the metro area.

    -----
    The Kitchen
    8977 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85253

    1. Thanks for the very thorough review! I've been wondering about this place and I am extremely excited about the cheese shop aspect .

      1 Reply
      1. re: hungryinaz

        Note:
        Lunch is limited.....
        My Mother and I dropped in on Monday...lunch is self serve...like it was @ Dish and the dinner menu and small plates are not availalbe.
        In the evening it is more like a restaurant.....much more service oriented.
        We loved the market, the prepared foods and the cheese selection...which they were in the process of pricing as we were perusing.....
        I have high hopes for this place.....

      2. Cheese, cheese??? Real cheese shop in Phoenix (Scottsdale)???? Did someone say cheese?

        If this is a great cheese shop & we get addicted & they go the way of Dish, it will break my heart. Wish someone'd do this without the burden of huge square footage but I'm heading over!

        BTW, just heard that Rancho Pinot is bringing in Murray's Cheese now.

        1. Great analysis, Barry. I never experienced the incarnation of Dish. I did stop by The Kitchen for lunch last week and I was pleased overall.
          Pricey and upscale, but no doubt the quality is there. I wish them well! I would go back again, definitely.

          1. i stopped back in to The Kitchen last week looking for smoked mozzarella for a recipe. They didn't have it, but I got to meet Laura (the cheesemonger). She is great! Her family owns the artisinal food company in Phoenix that supplies restaurants and chefs. She knows her stuff, and in addition to the cheeses, they have charcuterie, as well, including some pretty good looking salami. The pate looks good too. She asked what I was making and then recommended combining a smoked cheddar and fontina (it was fantastic). I made a fettunta with the cheese and prosciutto (also purchased at The Kitchen) over grilled boule slices from Simply Bread. Laura even brought me some chopped parsely from the kitchen.

            They had the cheese maker from Beehive cheese in Denver providing tastes of his cheeses. Laura said the shop is going to host cheese classes on Wednesdays after they get more settled.

            As luck would have it, some of our dinner guests brought dessert from The Kitchen. The cookies were amazing. The very pretty cake was good, but a little too much of the icing for me (it was tasty though). The huge chocolate covered strawberries were incredible, as well.

            Barry

            4 Replies
            1. re: barry

              I think that cheesemonger's name is Lara....

              1. re: jopvegas

                perhaps he's referring to lara from fromage a trois?

                1. re: azhotdish

                  That's her. Sorry for mispelling her name. Lara and her family run fromage a trois which I believe distributes cheese and other artrisan items to local chefs. The Kitchen hired her to set up and operate the cheese and charcuterie areas, and she will continue to work for them as they open in other cities.

                  1. re: barry

                    thanks for the report barry, she was helpful in finding some cheese for me last year - their place offered some cool gift baskets around the holidays. will have to stop by and check out what they have over at the kitchen.

            2. I stopped in and the changes to Dish seem fairly limited. I still saw a lot of people browsing more than buying / eating.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Mattoclock

                A sign of the economic times unfortunately, Mattoclock.

                1. re: firecracker

                  Yea some of it is the economy but I think some of it is the business model too.

                  I was thinking of getting a sandwich or something. But I looked at a chicken club sandwich in a plastic tub that looked pretty uninspiring and it was $8.99, not organic or anything.

                  So I bought my son a slice of cake, which I had promised him at the train park, and got a latte. It just seemed like most people had the same idea, they came in to have lunch and just weren't grabbed by the concept.

                  1. re: Mattoclock

                    I think you hit their issue right on the nose. I have yet to experience "the Kitchen" but I work right down the street and used to stop in for lunch frequently when it was Dish. They try to do too much rather than focus on one or two specific things and the marketing comes across (or used to) as a restaurant which is not what I would classify this place. The selection is to die for but I could see some being a bit overwhelmed not to mention turned off on the prices in this economic climate. I do hope they can pull it together even it means making a few tweaks.

                2. re: Mattoclock

                  Physically, The Kitchen is pretty similar to Dish, as I mentioned. The big difference to me is the cheese and charcuterie area. I stopped in again on Friday, and there were even more cheeses to try. I bought a few for a dinner party on Saturday, along with two of the salamis. The salami is made by a guy who moved to the US from Italy and makes it here as his family did in Italy. It was truly amazing, and so different from what we usually can get here. They are getting in some unique pate soon, too.

                  The Kitchen is not a place to get a bargain. Everything is priced at the high end for this area. However, if they offer things I can't find anywhere else in town, and it's good, I don't mind paying a little extra. For me, offering unique items and an educated staff that knows their stuff makes it a value.

                  By the way, they have several sandwiches in the center deli area that they'll put in the panini press for you, perhaps making it more appetizing.

                  Barry

                3. So let me get this straight. Sacramento-based Good Eat's bid to aggressively take over (Sacramento landmark) Corti Brothers grocery location fails and leads to loads of negative press in Sacramento. And their next step is to open up said grocery in Scottsdale, only to use the name of a very established Sacramento institution, The Kitchen? Let's hope their culinary creativity exceeds that of their marketing.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: billmitchell

                    Bill, your comments are interesting. How do you have that information? I've googled the bejesus out of the subject but can't find any solid evidence of your claim. I've been told by an employee or 2 that not only is "the Kitchen" an institution in Sac, but that "good eats" is an institution in Texas. Fire that marketing person, I agree. Can you think of a slightly more creative name for a kitchen? I think my 3 yr old could.
                    I have also heard that the aforementioned "Lara" the cheesemonger is no longer with them and that half the original opening management team, including the exec. chef is no longer with them.Their remaining corporate chef is widely regarded by the staff ( I know because I'm, there several times a week and talk to them) as a synchophant and an inexperienced half drunken joke. Not a good sign. To quote Nikki Buccanons review: eerily similar to Dish. Hank, are you listening?
                    Having said that, the food is increasingly excellent. they seem to be gradually adapting to Phoenician ways and at least the Bistro staff appears to be approaching what you would call normal standards for a great restaurant experience. I highly recommend the veal chop, not found anywhere else in this parched valley.
                    Barry, the wine guy accross the way? Fear not, the charcuterie is still better than any even without Lara. I like the mere idea of mixing the salami you mention with the local institution Schreiners and the SF based Molinari salami's and pate. The other items in the "center stage" area are good and bad depending on the day and the staff. Just like any market. At least they offer a taste so you can decide for yourself..
                    And I disagree at the bargain part, maybe I'm new to this: $5 burgers and gelato? Sick. I'm thinking someone is making a mistake (who is in charge of marketing?), but I have found now and before some great discounted items much like you can in any Fresh and Sleazy where they mark down prepared foods by as much as 75%.
                    Bottom line: get a new marketing team, a new corporate chef who has experience, stop stepping on local institutions, be honest.
                    People like this concept but will reject it in ANY location if you condescend to your clientele and your staff.
                    In any profession DON'T condescend, even if and especially if they are not so bright kids.
                    People will subliminally love you for this.
                    Good luck.

                    1. re: lisacoq

                      I remember the Good Eats chain from when I lived in Dallas a few years back. I only went to the location in Irving, TX, once or twice around '96/'97. Just a typical restaurant, nothing special.

                  2. Dish, one of Sam Fox's only mistakes, was a complete knock off of Eatzi's, a Texas based chain developed by Phil Romano and later sold to Brinker (Chili's, Etc.). They expanded from Dallas to Houston, Atlanta, DC, Long Island and Macy's in NYC. The NY stores were a disaster and closed. Brinker sold it back to Romano who closed all of the remaining stores except Dallas. Eatzi's was far superiod to Dish and to Kitchen but the problem with all three of these is overhead. It costs a significant amount of money to just open in the morning with all that staff and food. One thing that Eatzi's did/does do is sell off all the remaining food at night at a deep discount so you know the food is freshly made the next day. That doesn't happen at Kitchen and didn't happen at Dish. Besides superior food quality, the remaining Eatzi's is located on the edge of an upscale neighborhood close to downtown. It does an enormous catering business. Even with a reported sweetheart lease, Kitchen will be hard pressed to make it without significantly increasing their catering. The economics are really challenging for a place like this.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Poerz

                      Ummmmm, I'm almost embarrassed to reply, but I seek the truth!

                      Please someone hit me over the head if I am wrong;

                      Sam Fox has nothing to do with The Dish. Either not really or never and I only say that because Bloom is 2 doors over.

                      The Dish at Macys? I doubt it. Either not really or never and I only say that because I worked for someone who worked at Macy's NYC. Prove it.
                      The Dish had nothing to do with any of the companies you mention, nor does The Kitchen.
                      You must be a conspiracy theorist...............
                      I have heard of the Eatzi's connection and agree you should sell off unsold items at a deep discount, like Fresh and Sleazy.
                      Not like it's an original idea, any cheap ass consumer like myself could tell you the same thing.

                      Poerz, what are your credentials to make such claims, and how far do your economics degrees go?
                      Please tell.

                      1. re: lisacoq

                        Dish was definitely a Sam Fox restaurant and it was
                        Eatzi's not Dish that was in Macy's basement. (please reread my post) Sam Fox frequently groups restaurants together. Note Kierland and shortly he will have a new restaurant replacing the failed Pink Taco (he has no connection to that) at the Scottsdale Waterfront. just steps away from Sauce.

                        As for my creds, I've been in the restaurant business for more than 30 years.

                        1. re: Poerz

                          Sam Fox never had anything to do with Dish, you are clearly confused. I work with a former exec. chef of Bloom and he would know.

                          Eatzi's is a knock off of a knock off as well.

                        2. re: lisacoq

                          Concur with biffmo and lisacoq - Fox Restaurant Concepts and/or Sam Fox never had anything to do with Dish. This is a fact.

                          30 years of restaurant experience is no substitute for doing your research and knowing the facts.